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Anjum Chopra’s vote goes to captain Dhoni

‘India captaincy is a crown of thorns’
Anjum Chopra

Calcutta: Anjum Chopra, a former India captain and one of the glamour girls of Indian sport, recently spoke to The Telegraph.

The following are excerpts

Having one captain for men’s Test cricket and another for ODIs and T20 Internationals...

I consider no split to be a good policy. If the person we’re looking at as captain is good enough to find a place in all three formats, then he should be the only captain.

The disadvantage of a split...

It’s more pronounced on tours, I think, where 60-70 per cent of the players are common across formats... If you have different captains, then the players have got to keep adjusting in the dressing room. No two captains have the same mindset or the same temperament and they’ll have different sets of players ‘following’ them. Call them loyalists, if you wish. I don’t think that’s healthy. In my view, camaraderie gets affected.

If Mahendra Singh Dhoni should keep the captaincy in all three formats...

Well, Dhoni is a good player and a good captain. He’s a match-winner... I’d retain him, absolutely. The best part about Dhoni is that he’s happy to take the back seat when the going is good, but steps out and takes charge when the going isn’t good. A captain has to be a leader. Dhoni is one.

Dhoni getting the stick for India’s awful performances both in England and in Australia...

That’s because he’s the captain of the ship, but you’ve got to remember that cricket is a team sport and there are 10 other individuals.

On Dhoni having been the India captain across formats for nearly four years...

Captains have to take a calculated risk and many of Dhoni’s moves have paid off. Generally, he’s handled the pressure situations very well.

If she’s ever talked captaincy with Dhoni...

We’ve met just once, in 2010, but there wasn’t time to talk about captaincy and leadership.

Her choice of Dhoni’s deputy...

There’s Virender Sehwag and there’s Gautam Gambhir... I’d probably go for Gambhir.

Virat Kohli, the vice-captain in the Asia Cup...

It would be very awkward if Sehwag and Gambhir were on the field and Dhoni, if he had to go off, asked Virat to take charge.

An ideal captain...

Is one who is instinctive and backs himself or herself. The person has to be strong-minded... Self-belief has to be high... The captain has to tell himself or herself ‘I can do it, I can pull it off’... Besides being a leader, a captain has to be a friend, guide and mentor... Different situations call for different responses. Also, a captain has to be thorough with the home work.

Identifying leaders...

You don’t have to go around with a lamp to find out who can lead, the person gets identified on his/her own. Whether the person is born a leader or not, a leader is a leader. Indeed, a leader can be spotted in a crowd.

Her role model captain...

Steve Waugh... He had the resources, but marshalling the resources well holds the key to success. Steve was amazing, with such an enviable temperament.

Approach to captaincy...

My approach is that there’s something to learn every day... A trick here or there, something which could help strategy-wise.

Being reinstated as the India captain last season and, then, dropped from the team altogether...

The captain becomes a centre of attraction and whether they deserve to be there or not, there are players who want to be in your place. Of course, there are people who look up to you, but there are also others who want to pull you down. They (rightly) say that the India captaincy is a crown of thorns. Captains in India have to get everything right from the word go, there’s no scope for trial and error.

Lastly, her message for those aspiring to captain...

(Smiles) Be yourself.