Mumbai, Oct 20: Former South Africa cricketer Jonty Rhodes feels that the absence of the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and not too much cricket, is the reason behind the sparse attendance at the first two ODIs between India and England in Hyderabad and New Delhi, respectively.
“Indians like their team winning. They won two matches in a row. You will now see the crowd coming back. I think Indians will very quickly forget that they were whitewashed if they return the favour (to England) here,” Rhodes, who scored 2,532 and 5,935 runs in 50 Tests and 245 ODIs respectively, said.
“Tendulkar is not playing the series may also be a reason for less attendance. When we (Mumbai Indians) played in Delhi and he came out, there was an uproar. We played in Chennai, they showed him on screen and the whole crowd started supporting the Mumbai outfit.
“Sachin is a trump card wherever and whichever team he is playing,” he said.
Rhodes believed that the split captaincy formula, being practiced by England and South Africa, is not ideal for India.
“You just cannot make anyone captain because someone else is not able to do the job. To be a captain you need to have leadership skills. If (India captain Mahendra Singh) Dhoni wants rest, India can surely appoint someone else,” Rhodes said.
“They have cricketers like Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir, who have done a good job leading the Kolkata Knight Riders and can step into his (Dhoni's) shoes,” he added.
Rhodes, best known for his electric fielding at backward point, made it clear that his country and England have been forced to appoint different captains for different formats.
“Graeme Smith has stepped down from limited overs captaincy. AB De Villiers broke his finger, so Hashim Amla had to step in.
Smith still feels he can play a true role in Test captaincy. Possibly De Villiers is going to be the next captain in Tests.
“England have three captains for three different formats. With the amount of cricket being played these days, different skill levels are required for different formats.
Rhodes also felt that Dhoni was unfairly criticised after India's drubbing in England and said the Ranchi-born wicketkeeper-batsman's contribution to Indian cricket would be truly appreciated once he retires from the game.
“They (India) are 2-0 up in the (current ODI) series. They are playing convincing cricket. For a captain, after being No. 1 in Tests and winning the World Cup...I am not surprised that the man is exhausted,” he said.
“(Former coach) Gary Kirsten has left and there is a slight shift in the balance of the team. (Incumbent) Duncan Fletcher is a good coach, (but) it takes a while for the balance to be restored.”
The 42-year-old cricketer pointed out that conditions play a huge role in team's performance as is highlighted by the struggling English side in the ongoing ODI series.
“They (Dhoni's men) are playing a series in India where they are comfortable with conditions. The team could gel easily in the known environment. Even the new players went to the crease and were comfortable,” Rhodes said.
“In England conditions are different. The ball swings, the ball seams, the ball bounces. So you suddenly have got younger guys outside their environment, which puts them under pressure.
“Dhoni got India to No 1 position in the world. So where was the problem six months ago? I think he has been an amazing captain for India and when he leaves people will appreciate how good he was,” he added.
Rhodes also said that excellent fielding in the first five overs of the World Cup final against Sri Lanka had swung the match in India's favour.
“I told Kohli after the final of the Champions League that the first few overs of the game was where I knew India won. I know Dhoni batted beautifully but the fielding for the first five overs was great.”