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Very important to back quality players: Dhoni

Leicester: A day ahead of the start of a long tour of England under tough conditions, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that quality players should not be dumped on the basis of one poor series and rather, backed to return to form.

“I think it’s very important to back quality players. It does not matter whether he is the captain of the side or just a batsman or a bowler,” Dhoni said at his first press conference after arriving in England, on Wednesday.

With an aim to bury the ghosts of a disastrous tour of 2011, a new-look Indian cricket team would be eyeing a positive start to their two-and-a-half-month long tour, which gets underway with a three-day practice match starting here on Thursday.

Asked about his opposite number Alastair Cook, whose poor form played a major role in England’s Test series defeat to Sri Lanka on home soil, Dhoni said he expected the home side to back the beleaguered captain.

Cook, who played a major role in England’s 4-0 rout of India in 2011, was out of sorts against Sri Lanka. “A bad phase is something that every player goes through and you just need to back players at the right point because when you are getting those big hundreds and double-hundreds, then everybody will be on your side,” said Dhoni.

“What’s important is to realise what they were saying about him the last time we were here. He had performed really well at that time. But the real test of character is when your fans or the media or your teammates are supporting you when you are not doing well.”

Coach Duncan Fletcher was in charge of England when he handed Cook his Test debut in 2006 and had said the Essex opener has got the mental strength to handle the pressure he was under.

“I agree with MS (Dhoni). Too many people are happy to knock you off your pedestal. When they go through those bad times, they keep knocking them and that’s when they need the support,” he said.

“If you had looked at our batsmen and picked them on their mental aspect, one of them would be that they’ve got to be determined and stubborn. I think Alastair has got that, and proven with the runs he has got that he’s a very, very good opening batsman. “Almost everyone goes through some bad and some good times. I think Alastair is a very determined individual, which I think most opening batsmen have to be,” Fletcher said.