India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has begun his team’s tour of England on an unlikely footing, rallying to the defence of his rival skipper Alastair Cook.
In his first media conference ahead of the tourists’ opening hit-out against Leicestershire, Dhoni urged Cook’s growing band of critics to remember what they were saying and writing about the opener when the two teams met previously in the Test arena.
That was in 2012 when Cook carved himself a slice of history as the first England skipper to win a Test series on the Indian subcontinent for almost 30 years and did so on the back of his own sizeable contribution of 562 runs from four Tests at an average of more than 80.
That included individual scores of 176, 122 and 190 in consecutive Tests in Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Kolkata.
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Dhoni, who himself endured calls to stand down from the captaincy in the wake of that series loss, said it was important to support rather than criticise a player with such obvious ability when they were enduring a form slump.
“The media is the same, it doesn’t matter if it’s here or back home in India,” Dhoni told reporters at Leicestershire’s county ground, Grace Road.
“It’s very important to back players.
“It doesn’t matter if he’s the captain of the side or a batsman or a bowler.
“What’s important is for the media to realise that the last time we were in India we were speaking about him and how well he’d performed.
“A bad phase is something that everybody goes through.
“You just need to back players at the right point.
“When you’re getting those big hundreds and double hundreds everybody will be on your side.
“The real test of character is when you’re not doing well.
“The toughest period in cricket is when the team is not doing well and people start questioning their own ability.”
India must face its own demons in the five-Test series that begins at Trent Bridge on July 9, having been whitewashed four-nil on their previous tour of England in 2011 with a team that included batting giants Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman.
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