Leicester, August 28: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni could be suffering from “sore hands” causing his wicket-keeping to deteriorate on the present England tour, is the verdict of former England wicketkeeper Paul Nixon.
Nixon, who last night retired after powering his Leicestershire team to domestic Twenty20 title triumph, has also been an England keeper in the past and is the one who helped Dhoni out with his keeping when he first came on tour to these shores in 2007.
”It looks like he has sore hands. He's too proud a guy to show it but he has sore hands. Otherwise, he is very aggressive and sure in his catching but (on this tour) he's been giving a lot,” Nixon said this morning.
”It's like being in the boxing ring. If your hands are tied, you can't throw a punch.”
Since Dhoni is not in the best of physical shape, Nixon believes he hasn't been doing those things consistently well enough which he passed it on him on the last tour.
”As a wicketkeeper, while you are behind the stumps, your chin should be lower to your knees. Your shoulders should be square and level. He hasn't been doing it.”
”If you are not very square (in shoulders), you could end up doing a lot of twisting and there would be more catching errors. Your arms should be at your chin height. He's not doing it as consistently in this series.”
Nixon said the only way to get rid of soreness in your hands is to give it a good rest—an opportunity Dhoni hasn't had for a very long time now.
”It (the soreness) isn't going to go away without rest. Sometimes, we are keen an artificial rubber-band kind of strip on fingers but then you lose feel of the ball. It's cumbersome on hands.”
Nixon believed Dhoni's personality and the fact that he is a leader, isn't helping him in seeking a break and sort out his battered hands.
”Being a captain, you need to put in 15-18 hours a day. You look after everybody, communicating. Dhoni is a giver and when you are so with other people, you neglect your own game,” he praised Dhoni.
”Dhoni is passionate about other people. It gives you respect from team-mates. But at times, senior players and management need to say ‘Let's forget about others and let's get you right. Let's clean up your backyard.”
Nixon admitted that it is indeed a tough job for players at the elite level.
”It's tough. Players need rest at the elite level. Look at me, I squatted 500 times yesterday and then there is the game tomorrow. It takes a toll,” Nixon stated with suggestions like India could follow the example of England in such matters.
”For this to happen, you need a good squad, you need rotation, clever management. England have done very well in the last few weeks. That's what India has got to do.”
Nixon feels it's been his good fortune to get close to Sachin Tendulkar while he played for Yorkshire in early 90s as well as share the same dressing room with Rahul Dravid while he played for Kent in 2000.
He rates both as two of the best sportsmen, and not just from cricket, he has seen during his 24-year-long first-class career.
”There's an aura about Sachin. Even when he played for Yorkshire, he had it then. We all have watched his journey. We all play cricket as our characters and Tendulkar is one of the biggest giants. He, alongwith two others, Martin Johnson now England rugby coach and Dravid, are at different level than others.”
Nixon picks out two youngsters to watch out for in the Twenty20 match between his team Leicestershire and Indians on Monday.
”Joshua Cobb was in my arms 10 hours after he was born. A couple of years ago he made his debut for us. He is tremendous against new ball and in Powerplays. James Taylor is another. He is short in stature. In my 24 years of first class cricket, he's the best young kid I have come seen through.”
Nixon waxed more eloquent about Taylor. “He knows his options, he runs it around, can hit the ball out of the park and has the same hunger as Dravid. He might have won yesterday but he's in the nets this morning.”
”He averages 50 in most formats and has the maturity of a 35-year-old. He can finish a game, hit the ball out of park. His father has been a jockey and he's similarly tough,” he concluded. Nixon played 19 ODIs for England, all in one year in 2007.PTI