Dhoni is one of the sharpest cricket minds I have encountered: Greg Chappell

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Former India head coach Greg Chappell heaped praise on MS Dhoni, saying the ex-captain of the national side was one of the sharpest cricket brains he had ever encountered.

He added that Dhoni played the game on various pitches early on, which resulted in him developing decision-making and strategic skills, setting him apart from his peers.

“The Indian subcontinent still has many towns where coaching facilities are rare and youngsters play in streets and on vacant land without the interference of formal coaching. This is where many of their current stars have learned the game,” wrote Chappell in his column for ESPNCricinfo on Wednesday.

Taking Dhoni as an example of learning batting naturally, Chappell remarked, “MS Dhoni, with whom I worked in India, is a good example of a batter who developed his talent and learned to play in this fashion. By competing against more experienced individuals on a variety of surfaces early in his development, Dhoni developed the decision-making and strategic skills that have set him apart from many of his peers. His is one of the sharpest cricket minds I have encountered.”

Chappell went on to say that the flair in England’s batting has been missing due to emphasis on learning via a prescribed textbook. “England, on the other hand, have very few of these natural environments and their players are produced in a narrow band of public schools, with an emphasis on the coaching manual. This is why their batting has lost much of its flair and resilience.

“The games that young people make up and play are dynamic and foster creativity, joy, flexibility in technical execution, tactical understanding and decision-making, which are often missing in batting at the highest levels. The greatest batters developed their talent over long periods of time by playing and learning in creative, informal learning environments from young ages without an excessive focus on perfecting someone else’s idea of what an ideal technique should look like.”

The 73-year-old signed off by saying that England need to reset their thinking on how they develop batting techniques, especially after a 4-0 thrashing in the Ashes.

“England would do well to look at their coaching methods and how the best batters develop their skills as part of any review that they initiate on the back of another resounding defeat in Australia. The England batting was bereft of class, short on imagination, and lacked resilience throughout this tour.

“If I was in charge of English cricket, I know what I would do first – but I won’t be giving that information away for free! If they don’t do something drastic, they will be accused of behaving as in the aphorism that has often been mis-attributed to Albert Einstein: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

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