A captain feels he is under probation when his tenure is defined so precisely, writes Steve Waugh

It would have been great if the Indian board had announced the Indian Test captain on Tuesday itself, when they were announcing the captain for the one-dayers. It would have given a sense of stability to the team, and put an end to the speculation that has surrounded the top jobs ever since Rahul Dravid announced his resignation.

The selectors are obviously impressed with the little they have seen of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy. As far as ODIs go, it’s evident that the selectors have decided to hand the baton over to the younger generation.

The selectors would have served Dhoni better had they merely named him captain instead of saying it was for the first 12 one-dayers that his team will be playing. A captain feels he is under probation when his tenure is defined so precisely.

It is understood that the selectors have the authority to replace a captain whenever they feel he is not right for the job, so a time frame is quite unnecessary.

Dhoni will have to share the dressing room with three former captains — Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid — and how he fares will depend a bit on how he handles this situation. Ideally, he should use their experience and counsel, but not allow them to influence his decisions.

Stable leadership

Dravid has stated that the shelf life of an Indian captain is getting shorter, which means nobody will last in the job for more than two years. This is not good for Indian cricket, because a team must have stable leadership if it wants to do well.

The media and public have to give their future captains some leeway if they want them to take the team forward. Four to five years is optimum for a captain to steer this team in the direction he wants to take it.

The timing of the team selection for the one-dayers could also have been better as far as India is concerned.

Some of the players in the Twenty20 squad would be disappointed at not being picked for India’s future games.

However, I hope that Dhoni and his men are focussed on the Twenty20 tournament amid all these events because they are in a must-win situation in their next two games, against England and South Africa.

The Australians are in a must-win situation as well, after they lost to Pakistan on Tuesday. Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson has some serious talent to handle in the pace bowling department. Umar Gul and Mohammed Asif are both class bowlers, but the man who really stood out was Sohail Tanvir.

An exceptional talent

It is wonderful to see such raw talent, untouched by coaching and academies. Such pure, unadulterated ability has always been a trademark of Pakistan cricket.

Tanvir is an exceptional talent, and when Shoaib Akthar returns to the team, Pakistan could have a pace quartet that could rival some of the attacks of the West Indies from the 1980s.

The Australians are taking time to come to grips with the Twenty20 format, and seem to be caught between wanting to play the way they do in 50-over cricket and trying to innovate.

New to this version

All the sides are new to this form of the game, but the sides that Australia play have less to lose than the world champion.

They might still go ahead and win the tournament, and though this is not as big as the 50-over World Cup, there is no denying that the Australians want this one.

The middle-order has hardly got any batting, so it’s hard for them to go out and perform immediately in this format. The match against Sri Lanka is a virtual quarterfinal and they could probably looking at changing their batting order and sending Michael Clarke ahead.

Gameplan

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