Dubai: Kiran More, former Indian stumper and chief selector who played a key role in giving the legendary Mahendra Singh Dhoni a break in international cricket, feels that the current Indian spinners are missing out on his guidance behind the stumps.
Considered as one of the best in business during his tenure for nearly a decade from mid-Eighties, More had donned several hats since his retirement and is currently associated with Mumbai Indians in a consulting role. Gushing about the former Indian captain who walked away from international cricket, More said: ‘‘It will be very difficult to find another Dhoni. If you see so many countries like Pakistan, England or South Africa trying with a wicketkeeper-batsman as captain, it’s because they have seen the benefit of having someone like him behind the stumps to read the game from the best position in the ground.’’
Speaking to W.V.Raman, former Indian opener in latter’s podcast ‘Inside Out,’ the Baroda man held court on a range of subjects - from analysing the contribution of ‘MSD’ to the absence of wicketkeeping coaches in the country despite the big complement of coaches at all levels of cricket these days.
Rahul Dravid had already kept in 75 One-day Internationals, so we were looking for a wicketkeeper-batsman who could whack the ball and we could give Rahul a respite. There was surely something special about the way he (Dhoni) approached the game
‘‘During Dhoni’s time, he was constantly giving advice to bowlers on what length or line to bowl - albeit mostly in Hindi. Now that Dhoni is not there behind the wickets, India’s spinners are struggling - you will see Kuldeep (Yadav) or (Ravindra) Jadeja are no longer the same bowlers. He has done it for 10-12 years with aplomb as Virat Kohli could afford to stand in the deep, but now he has to either stand at short extra cover or mid off to talk to the bowlers,’’ he said.
Looking back at 2004, a watershed year for Indian cricket as it saw Dhoni’s international debut, the 59-year-old said his entire team of selectors deserved the kudos for spotting this unusual talent with a mane of hair. ‘‘The scenario was something like this: Rahul Dravid had already kept in 75 One-day Internationals, so we were looking for a wicketkeeper-batsman who could whack the ball and we could give Rahul a respite. There was surely something special about the way he approached the game. We picked him for India A to Kenya, where he had a good tour and scored over 600 runs. We already had players like Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh but when Dhoni came, he was a complete package and took the Indian cricket by storm,’’ More recalled.
An insider of the Mumbai Indians support system for years, More attributed a lions’ share of their success-rate to the owners and the eye for detail in their preparations. The Mumbai Paltans were a cut above the rest in the IPL 2020 in the UAE and won their fifth title in a canter - all of them coming under the leadership of Rohit Sharma.
‘‘I have seen him develop tremendously as a player and captain over the years. The first time I saw him was as a 16-year-old at my academy where he played an innings of 160...and I thought this kid is special. When he first took over as captain (from a illustrious figure like Ricky Ponting), people were questioning but he showed brilliant temperament. He gives his players a lot of freedom and the biggest quality about him is he doesn’t panic even under severe pressure,’’ said the member of the 1993 Hero Cup-winning squad.
More revealed that the reason behind Mumbai’s success is that they don’t allow their players to relax even after the season is over. ‘‘Our campaign is not about a two-month operation. We follow our players round the year and monitor the progress of the youngsters as well - for example we are mentoring Digvijay Deshmukh - a talented kid from Maharashtra right now. The doors of Reliance Campus are open round the year for the cricketers - if any of them picks up an injury, he can just walk in for attention,’’ he said.
Finally, what would be his mantra to be a good wicketkeeper? ‘‘See my advice is if you don’t love wicketkeeping, don’t go for it. A lot of people say it’s a thankless job, but I feel it’s a very challenging job. To me, a good wicketkeeper is someone who can make something out of nothing. I don’t like ‘keepers waiting for things to happen,’’ he added.