In cricket, a captain is what a manager is to a football team or perhaps greater. One smart move, a quick bowling change, an inspired field placement, can change the course of the match. Fortunately, India, on that front, have been blessed with some great captains. In terms of win percentage, current skipper Virat Kohli outdoes everyone, in terms of trophies there’s no one close to MS Dhoni. But is it fair to judge a captain’s impact only by the outcome of the match or tournament? Former India spinner Maninder Singh certainly doesn’t think so.
Maninder who has represented India in 35 Tests and 49 ODIs between 1982 and 19993 taking 88 and 66 wickets respectively, believes it is very important for a captain to instill belief in his team and also back his players.
The former left-arm spinner credited India’s 1983 World Cup-winning Kapil Dev for making everyone believe by winning India’s maiden world title, which later on helped the likes of Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni.
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“Dhoni was lucky that Kapil Dev won us the World Cup in 1983 then Dhoni was lucky that before him it was Sourav Ganguly, who made us believe that we can beat any team and in any conditions, so Dhoni got that,” Maninder told Hindustan Times in an exclusive chat.
Maninder added that according to him Kapil and Dhoni are on the same page as captains because of them were positive, calm, and tactically very good.
“When Kapi Dev was the captain that belief was missing. Otherwise, the positivity, the calmness, the captaincy instincts of these two is the same. For me, Kapil and Dhoni are on the same page. If Kapil had somebody else who had won us the world cup before him, then he could also have been a greater captain,” he said.
The former left-arm spinner, however, named current BCCI president Sourav Ganguly as the best India captain because of his ability to spot talent and back them to succeed.
“I loved Ganguly’s captaincy. See what all he has given Indian cricket He was a great judge of talent. He pulled out Yuvraj from the dumps, he got back Harbhajan Singh when he was dropped,” he said.
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Maninder highlighted that Ganguly, who led India in 146 ODIs and 49 Tests, gave India a number cricketers like Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, and Yuvraj Singh
“Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir you name it. He made Rahul Dravid keep wickets. Dravid scored 10 thousand runs in ODI cricket. Sehwag was a middle-order batsman, he told him to open in South Africa. Sehwag in an interview has said ‘what if I don’t get runs, I’m not an opener I don’t how to?’ Ganguly told him ‘I’ll give you these Test matches in South Africa, if you fail, I give you a guarantee that you won’t be dropped, I will pay you in the middle order’. This is what a leader is. I might have forgotten names, Sehwag, Harbhajan, Yuvraj, Zaheer Khan.
“I think it was Sourav who told him to play county cricket and after that, we had a different Zaheer Khan. For me, to be honest, Sourav Ganguly was the best,” Maninder added.
Further explaining the qualities of a good leader, Maninder said, a leader has to be both patient and aggressive. “See, a good leader will always be very patient and by patient, I don’t mean he won’t be aggressive. He will show patience by backing good talent, he will allow breathing space to young cricketers but at the same time he will show aggressive intent when on the cricket field just to send his message across to the opposition team.”
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