You can fool everyone with smart playacting but you can’t escape a trained eye. All summer, MS Dhoni’s ’keeping has been heavily criticised. It has been blamed on the India skipper’s inability to adapt to the conditions.
According to veteran Leicestershire wicketkeeper Paul Nixon, he is in trouble because of the pounding his hands have taken due to his gruelling work schedule. The former England ’keeper, who dominated Sunday’s newspaper headlines here for his super show during his county's National T20 title win, feels Dhoni was fumbling because he was trying to lessen the pain on impact while collecting.
Dhoni has been fumbling easy collections on this tour and has at times completely misjudged the swerve of the ball.
“The last time Dhoni was here on the 2007 tour, we had a couple of hours’ session working on his keeping. It’s interesting; I have been studying the way he’s been keeping.
“From what I can make out he has sore hands, I don’t know if he has or not, but he normally catches the ball strong and aggressively. This time he is giving a lot (swinging his hands back more to absorb the impact) and he normally doesn’t do that. I know you do that as a keeper when your hands are sore. I will talk to him here,” said Nixon, who announced his retirement from county cricket on Saturday.
On Monday, Nixon will go head-to-head with Dhoni in Leicestershire colours in a T20 friendly against India.
Dhoni has on occasions failed to react to edges. The most glaring was when he looked on as Jonathon Trott's edge in the first Test sailed between him and first slip Rahul Dravid.
England is one of the toughest places to keep wicket, and one has to work a lot on his game, Nixon said.
“It's difficult to adapt to English conditions. Touring is relentless. The pressure is on. When you do it day in and out, it’s hard work. Sometimes, as a captain, you have other things to do than work on your game, that’s why you need guys around you to say ‘c’mon let’s do little bit of your work’ because you will sacrifice and say ‘I will be alright’.
“I have been in the captain's role before and it can take 15-16 hours of your time. Dhoni is a tough character. He’s a giver. He’s a magnificent leader.”
It raises the question of too much cricket. Nixon said the onus is on the BCCI to take a call on the player’s stress management.
They can take a cue from how the football players are managed by the top clubs in England. They have an even more gruelling schedule but so much study is done on managing their workload.
“At clubs like Manchester United, the management of their players is so good. Their rotation policy is very good. The clubs don’t allow the press to dictate which matches their main players should be playing,” said Nixon.
The Indian team management barred the media from the nets on Sunday. It cited the security scare during Friday's one-day warmup in Kent. A team official said coach Duncan Fletcher had asked for the media to be kept away.