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Dhoni beats Ganguly (by a whisker) in battle of the captains

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MS Dhoni has marginally edged out Sourav Ganguly as the more impactful captain in a Star Sports survey, in which two of India’s most successful captains were judged across a number parameters developed in collaboration with ESPNcricinfo.

While Dhoni was rated the best ODI and home-Test captain by significant margins, Ganguly was the clear winner in the away-Test captaincy category. Ganguly was also rated the better captain in terms of the team he developed from the players he inherited.

A jury comprising former players, journalists and broadcasters from across the globe scored each player out of ten in eight different categories: red-ball captaincy at home and away, white-ball captaincy, batting record as captain, how they transformed the teams they inherited and the quality of the teams they left behind, their major achievements, and each captain’s overall impact. After totalling up all the scores in each category, Dhoni was the winner by 0.4 points.

The most closely contested categories were batting record as captain, the teams the two left behind, and overall impact, with Dhoni nicking the first category and Ganguly edging him out in the other two.

Among the former players who voted in the poll were former South Africa captain Graeme Smith, former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara and former India openers Gautam Gambhir and Kris Srikkanth. Here’s what they have to say on why they voted how they voted.

Tests Home
Survey results Dhoni (8.2) beats Ganguly (7.4)
While both men had strong records, Dhoni had to work a little harder with the personnel he had, and the fact that he did that successfully is apparent in how his teams were rarely beaten.

Gambhir: Sourav had Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh bowling in tandem. MS Dhoni had only Harbhajan Singh, so he had to find a second spinner. So probably MS Dhoni because he did not have Anil Kumble in his armoury.

Tests Away
Survey results Ganguly (7.2) beats Dhoni (5.5)
Ganguly’s teams were harder to beat when they travelled. He lost only 10 of 28 matches away from home – that’s 36%. But Dhoni’s teams lost 15 out of 30 – they were twice as likely to lose (50%) as win (20%) outside of India

Srikkanth: In difficult conditions, he started winning Test matches. That’s when India believed we can beat England in England, Australia in Australia and Pakistan in Pakistan. That belief came from Ganguly

Sangakkara: Ganguly did not like losing. You saw his emotions coming out in various stages. But it was not just destructive. It came out because he really hurt when India lost.

Gambhir: The expectations after winning the World Cup… we just couldn’t deliver. If we had gone with an open mind, thinking that even if we lose, the world won’t come to an end, we probably would have given ourselves a better chance. If our first intent had been to go out and win, we just didn’t have that.

Smith: Ganguly brought a hardness and a toughness to Indian cricket. He certainly was a huge pillar in the strength of Indian cricket and where it’s gone to today. And I always felt, even though MS had some success and India had some success, they were always lacking that one element of aggression.

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Star Sports Cricket Connected: Ganguly v Dhoni – Who was the more impactful captain?

ODI captaincy
Survey results: Dhoni (8.1) beats Ganguly (6.8)
There was only one winner, but also a tantalising what if. What if Ganguly had the quality of limited-overs players that Dhoni did?

Sangakkara: It was about the ability of MS winning those important moments by taking very simple decisions. He had a lot of clarity and a lot of confidence not just in his decision but also in trusting the player to deliver and he left the over-thinking to the opposition. But I think Dada had to work much much harder, with the team that he had, to get into those big moments.

Smith: If Dada had had an MS type player, his team was slightly more developed, I think you would have seen his team win more trophies.

Transforming teams
Survey results: Ganguly (8.6) beats Dhoni (7.3)
Clear winner again.

Srikkanth: Ganguly transformed the mindset of the Indian team. Then the fantastic winning combination was given on a platter and said, here Dhoni, you have a fantastic team, just continue what we started.

Smith: People only see what they can see. A lot of work goes behind the scenes as leader and one is identifying players and bringing them through, taking a chance on talent and I think Dada did that really well.

Teams left behind
Survey results: Ganguly (7.8) beats Dhoni (7.6)
This was a tight race. Ganguly gave India more players. He took over the side at a time of transition so a major part of his mandate was to find and blood new talent. Dhoni, though, helped reduce the fear of being dropped, giving those he believed in the time needed to settle in the team and become their best selves. Virat Kohli is a fine example of that. Still, there had to be a winner and a loser.

Gambhir: When MS Dhoni finished (his captaincy stint), he hasn’t given enough quality players to Virat Kohli, apart from Virat Kohli himself and Rohit Sharma. Or Jasprit Bumrah now. There are not too many world beaters, or probably people who win you tournaments. But look at what Sourav Ganguly gave to Indian cricket. Yuvraj Singh, man of the series in two World Cups [Yuvraj was only man of the series in the 2011 World Cup. Shahid Afridi was man of the series in the 2007 World T20], Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag – these kinds of world beaters.

Batting record as captain
Survey results: Dhoni (7.8) beats Ganguly (7.4)
How do you choose between a breathtaking finisher in ODIs and a Test batsman who began by making Lord’s bow down to him?

Gambhir: In white-ball cricket, MS Dhoni hands down. But in Test cricket, Sourav Ganguly. Because MS Dhoni, away from home or away from the subcontinent, doesn’t even have a hundred. And Sourav Ganguly has got a hundred at Lord’s, in Australia.

Smith: It’s almost impossible to move away from the impact MS Dhoni had on the game, on world cricket. His ability to finish, to handle the pressures in the almost gladiatorial moments in his career will leave an everlasting memory. I agree that when it comes to Tests, you always felt you had an opportunity to work him over, especially away and out of India. When it comes to Test cricket, I’ll have to sit with Dada, but one-day cricket, MS is my man.

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Star Sports Cricket Connected: Ganguly v Dhoni – Who was the more impactful captain?

Achievements
Survey results: Dhoni (8.5) beats Ganguly (7.2)
There’s only one world champion between the two and he takes the round.

Srikkanth: Come on man, World Cup 2011, the Champions Trophy, wins in Australia, Sri Lanka, of course the T20 World Cup. So as a limited-overs captain, Dhoni had a huge, huge impact both as a captain as well as a player and as a wicketkeeper, don’t forget that.

Gambhir: Purely from the trophies point of view, it’s MS Dhoni. But if you see the impact during those tournaments, MS didn’t have such a big impact as a player. But in the 2003 World Cup, Sourav Ganguly had a fabulous World Cup. If you see the 2007 T20 World Cup, MS didn’t score too many runs and neither did he score too many runs in 2011 as well. But yes, as a leader when you talk about winning trophies, yes MS Dhoni. He’s won both the World Cups, T20 and 2011, and the Champions Trophy. Sourav hasn’t won anything apart from the Natwest Trophy. [India were also joint winners of the 2002 Champions Trophy under Ganguly after the final was washed out on two consecutive days].

Overall impact
Survey results Ganguly (8.1) beats Dhoni (7.9)
Another tight race, with one man claiming trophies and climbing to the top of the ICC rankings and the other gifting India players of immense quality and, most importantly, the belief that they can win, even against the best

Gambhir: Both these guys have taken Indian cricket forward. Yes, MS Dhoni got it a little easier than Sourav Ganguly, but purely from the impact point of view I can only talk about MS Dhoni because he was very very serious about taking Indian cricket forward. People actually always used to think that he was not too serious about Test cricket, but he was equally serious about Test cricket as well. That was one of the reasons why we reached No.1 as well.

Smith: Sourav made such a big impact in Indian cricket in terms of the talent he brought, the mentality he brought… I think that like Allan Border probably did in the early days of Australian cricket, setting them up for the success, I think you’ve got to look for Dada here and say what he did for Indian cricket was iconic. He did the hard yards and all these wonderful players and captains followed.



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Ross Taylor on 2021 T20 World Cup: ‘Not sure’

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This February Ross Taylor became the first New Zealand men’s player to feature in 100 T20Is. Taylor celebrated the occasion with a half-century, studded by three successive signature hockey-swiped boundaries in a 34-run over off India allrounder Shivam Dube at the Bay Oval.

Taylor floated in the middle order at No.5 or No.6 in New Zealand’s most recent T20I series at home against India, and struck 166 runs in five innings at an average of 41.50 and strike rate of 131.74. He will be 37 when the T20 World Cup, which has now been pushed back to 2021 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, gets underway. So, does he see himself making that World Cup next year?

“Oh! Not sure,” Taylor told ESPNcricinfo in a video interview from Trinidad where he will be based for a month to play in the CPL 2020, playing for Guyana Amazon Warriors. “As you get older, things slow down a little bit, but your training and experience and your mind become even more important.”

There had been questions over Taylor’s T20I future after the previous T20 World Cup as well, in 2016, when he managed only 91 runs in five innings. In 2017, then-coach Mike Hesson explained that players on the fringe were putting too much pressure on Taylor.

Coming into the CPL, Taylor reckoned all players involved would face a sense of unease, having not played competitive cricket for a long time. Taylor had last played competitive cricket in March 2020, when New Zealand faced Australia in a closed-door ODI in Sydney before the rest of that tour was called off. Last month, Taylor was part of New Zealand training camp at the Bay Oval before heading to link up with five-time finalists Warriors.

“Yeah, it has been a strange time all around,” he said. I haven’t gone this long without playing any cricket since I was in high school. So, yeah obviously isolation and all those other things are a little bit strange, but it is what it is.

“You know it’s going to be strange for everybody at the CPL. Nobody has played international cricket for a while, so everyone is going to be nervous, I’m sure. So, the training and early games are very important. The atmosphere in Twenty20 cricket is a lot of what you play and we get the best crowds in that format. So, to play in front of nobody but knowing that people at home will be watching and cheering us on, it’s going to be a bit strange, but at the same time something that we’re going to get used to.”

Taylor is expected to fill the void created by the withdrawal of CPL veteran Shoaib Malik, who is currently on tour with Pakistan in the UK. With last season’s breakout star Brandon King at the top, followed by the power-hitting pair of Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer in the middle order, Taylor said that his role this season would be to draw on his experience and anchor the innings.

“Shoaib Malik has got a fantastic record, especially in Twenty20 [cricket] and especially for Guyana as well,” Taylor said. “I think he has got that anchor role – and a role that I’ll be looking to do as well. Hetmyer and Pooran… I’ve played with him [Pooran] before; they are not just exciting players in West Indies cricket, but in the world as well. I’m looking forward to see how they go and grow. It’s an exciting team to play for and every time I played against Guyana in the past, they’ve always been tough competitors.”

‘Expect spin to play a big part’

With CPL 2020 set to be played in just two venues in Trinidad & Tobago, the pitches are likely to deteriorate faster than usual. As a result, nearly all sides have packed their sides with spinners and slower-ball specialists. Taylor admitted that tackling spin could have a major impact on the tournament.

“Every team is stacked with quality spinners and we expect spin to play a big part and probably reverse-swing throughout the whole tournament,” he said. “Traditionally, it does spin a lot here anyway, so the way you play spin is going to be very important. Some of the world’s best spinners are here, and it’s going to be a good test for us batsmen going forward.

“You’ve just got to adjust as quickly as possible and adapt as quick as possible as well. I think regardless of whether you’re playing on bouncy wickets or spin-friendly wickets, you got to adjust to what kind of total you’re chasing or what you think is a par total is as well. So, hopefully the experience and reading the situation [helps] going forward, and also taking to your partner as much as possible and helping him out as well.”



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Lanka Premier League postponed until mid-November

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The Lanka Premier League (LPL) has been postponed until at least mid-November, after Sri Lanka’s government insisted that anyone arriving on the island for the tournament would have to undergo a 14-day quarantine. With only 17 days to go until the scheduled start of the LPL, and with a two-week quarantine period representing a substantial cost for organisers, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) was forced to rethink the tournament’s timing.

SLC had hoped Sri Lanka’s health ministry would allow a shorter and more flexible quarantine period for those directly involved in the tournament – players, broadcast crew, organisers and commentators – but with many of the potential new arrivals coming from nations dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks, government health officers had not consented.

“We’re not the experts, so we had to go with what the health ministry is telling us,” SLC vice-president Ravin Wickramaratne told ESPNcricinfo. “There’s a window from November 20th to December 12th, so that is what we are planning.” It was not feasible to simply push the tournament back several weeks, as it would then clash with the proposed dates for the IPL, which the LPL is unlikely to be able to compete with in terms of viewer interest.

ALSO READ: Bangladesh tour of SL could be rescheduled to October

Sri Lanka has largely been successful in containing the virus, recording even fewer official deaths than New Zealand. But that has been the result of stringent quarantine measures, which may even hurt the chances of international cricket resuming in Sri Lanka in October. Bangladesh are due to tour for a Test series during that month, with the BCB even asking to send a development squad, meaning there may be as many as 60 arrivals from Bangladesh. But if all of those flying in are required to undergo 14 days in quarantine, even that tour becomes less feasible, according to Wickramaratne.

“We have asked the health ministry to try and be more flexible going forward,” he said. “If they have to do a 14-day quarantine for the Bangladesh tour, then the costs of that will have to be borne by their board, and it becomes difficult.”

Playing the LPL at such short notice was always going to be a stretch given franchises are yet to be finalised for the five teams, while sponsors were yet to be found as well. The scarcity of flights into Colombo presented yet another serious logistical hurdle, with players and broadcast personnel needing to be flown in from various parts of the world.

SLC had confirmed an event-holder for the tournament in the Dubai-based Innovative Production Group (IPG), however, and IPG is expected to now work towards holding this tournament in November.

SLC has frequently failed to host a franchise T20 tournament. On at least four previous occasions, the board has announced a tournament that never materialised.



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Simon Kerrigan signs for Northamptonshire, three years after last professional match | Cricket

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Simon Kerrigan last made a professional appearance in 2017 © Getty Images


Simon Kerrigan, the left-arm spinner who played one Test for England in 2013, has signed a two-year contract at Northamptonshire, nearly three years since his last professional appearance.

Kerrigan, 31, was released by Lancashire at the end of the 2018 season after going a full year without making a first-team appearance, during which he put his playing career on hold to focus on coaching during a struggle for form.

Regrettably, he is best known for struggling badly on his Test debut against Australia at The Oval, during which he conceded 53 runs from his eight overs in the match. He was not immediately discarded by England, travelling to Sri Lanka with the Lions in the 2013-14 winter and winning a recall to the squad during the India series the following summer.

But his County Championship form tailed off somewhat: having taken 57 wickets at 20.89 in 2013, he averaged 35.36, 32.21 and 37.88 in the next three summers, before falling out of the first team in 2017. He joined Northants on loan for four games at the end of that season, but played club cricket for Fulwood and Broughton as a specialist batsman in 2018.

In 2019, he returned to bowling with a bang, taking 62 wickets at 8.48 apiece in the Northern Premier League to top the wicket-taking charts, and has trained regularly with Northants, travelling to Singapore with them on their pre-season tour. He has now signed a two-year deal with the club, which runs until the end of the 2022 season.

“I’m delighted to have signed,” Kerrigan said. “I’ve worked hard over the winter and went on the pre-season tour to Singapore with the club, and felt in a good place pre-Covid to push for a contract. I’m really happy that the club have put their faith in me and offered me a contract for next year.

“It’s an exciting time for the club with Sads [John Sadler] and Lids [Chris Liddle] coming in on the coaching staff along with being in Div 1 next year. I hope I can contribute a few five-fors to the cause and be part of some successful campaigns for Northamptonshire.”

“Since Graeme White retired from that side of the game we’ve been short of red-ball spin… so it’s great to have [Rob] Keogh and Kerrigan as a pair of red-ball spinners for Division One,” David Ripley, Northants’ head coach, said.

“Simon and I have kept in touch pretty much since he came on loan in 2017 and he’s bowled regularly with the squad too. I think where he is now is a really exciting place: he’s a bit more content in himself and his bowling is in a great place technically.

“I’m really excited: I’m pleased for him because he’s a cracking lad, a bit of a cricket badger and I’m really pleased we’ve given him and opportunity and I’ve just got that feeling it’s going to be a good story.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98


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