This Season is Witness, Cricket Needs Dhoni to Return to His Roots

Here’s how Dhoni’s mere presence in the domestic league could help the quality and standard of Indian cricket.

3 min read
(Photo: AP)

There are whispers doing the rounds that the Indian limited overs captain MS Dhoni could lead the Jharkhand side in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the domestic one-day competition, this December.

Dhoni has played very little domestic cricket over the years – his last appearance being more than six years ago, when he played the Challenger Series in October 2009. So when he steps on the field this time around, his very participation is sure to excite many and draw plenty of eyeballs to this usually low-key tournament.

This Season is Witness, Cricket Needs Dhoni to Return to His Roots

Much like in other countries and in other sports, India’s domestic cricket is the feeder to the national team. The quality among the higher rung is a direct reflection of the Ranji and the other domestic leagues, so it is important that the quality of cricket played at the domestic level is of a pretty high standard. To ensure this, players with international caps need to feature in it regularly, if not all the time.

Dhoni’s participation in the tournament (along with that of a few other players who are currently a part of only the India limited overs team and a few others vying to reclaim their place in the Indian team) is likely to ensure a higher standard of cricket in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

Bengal’s Ranji Trophy team. (Photo: PTI)
Bengal’s Ranji Trophy team. (Photo: PTI)

The Effect of Playing Alongside a Star

The participation of the likes of MS Dhoni will have a huge influence on the relatively low-key tournament.

Having stars play domestic cricket provides youngsters in the team the opportunity to compete against them and learn the nuances of the game first-hand. There is plenty to learn from just watching how the experienced players prepare ahead of a game. Then there’s also the opportunity of batting in a partnership with one of the international stars, the chance to deliberate over what fields to set, plotting a dismissal, etc. Even a mere tap on the shoulder, a ‘well done’, or a high-five from the international players could serve as huge inspiration for budding cricketers.

Sample these events from the Ranji Trophy matches played this season:

  • 17-year old Himanshu Rana was involved in a 124-run partnership with Virender Sehwag in a match between Haryana and Maharashtra.
  • 19-year old Ricky Bhui was involved in a 173-run partnership with Mohammad Kaif in a match between Andhra and Mumbai.
  • 20-year old J Kousik, playing his first season of domestic cricket, dismissed Suresh Raina in a match between Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
  • 21-year old Ankit Rajpoot dismissed Rohit Sharma in a match between Uttar Pradesh and Mumbai.
  • 22-year old Shreyas Gopal dismissed Virender Sehwag in a match between Karnataka and Haryana.
India’s under-19 cricketer Ricky Bhui who plays for Andhra Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy.
India’s under-19 cricketer Ricky Bhui who plays for Andhra Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy.

Imagine how much the likes of Himanshu Rana and Ricky Bhui would have learnt during their partnership with Sehwag and Kaif. Similarly, imagine how much confidence J Kousik, Ankit Rajpoot and Shreyas Gopal would have taken from dismissing Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Sehwag respectively.

These days most international cricketers, when they decide to call it quits, call it a day from all formats of the game. There is possibly plenty of merit in them spending another season or two playing domestic cricket.

Note: The Vijay Hazare Trophy, India’s premier domestic one-day competition, is scheduled to begin on December 10 and conclude with the final on December 28. Jharkhand, who are expected to be captained by MS Dhoni, are slotted in Group B along with Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat, Kerala, Haryana, Karnataka and Railways.

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