Originally Posted by Howe_zat
As for the general point, I think it's pretty hard to say which role is going to be better for the average. Sure there are more deliveries to negotiate from the top order but there are also more deliveries to play yourself in with. How often have we heard about batsman playing "selflessly" and gifting wickets away at the end of an innings? Nobody's going to moan about Jos Buttler's average of 14 from this series, we all know why he got out on 14 and we think he did pretty well. Conversely "playing for the average" is usually associated with playing more deliveries than you ought to be doing, isn't it?
I never ever suggested that Dhoni plays for the average. He doesn't. Nor did Bevan. That is not what is implied when I bring up the not outs point. In fact, Dhoni is one of the greatest team players India has EVER produced.
What Dhoni has done, and Bevan before him, is to understand the limited overs game much better than most cricketers. They realise that it is NOT all slam bam stuff that is required in this format. That is what Dhoni was doing in the early part of his career. But the bright guy that he is, he quickly realised that it was much better to play a smart game with the end result in mind than just playing to the galleries. It would have been easy for him to do the latter. No one expected anything different from him but he changed it on his own and put it even more emphatically in practice when he took over the captaincy with no one to 'order' him when to go hammer and tongs.
With the result his strike started dropping even as his average started picking up. He did not bother about the murmurs that were heard, including amongst some fans, about the new Dhoni. In fact, the helicopter shot was almost shelved completely till he suddenly brought it out in the current series in a modified version where he used it to hit boundaries rather than hit for sixes.
Dhoni, like Bevan, has understood that a very good run rate can be obtained by a pair of very good runners between the wickets who did not take undue risks in the middle overs when run rates drop and efforts to boost them can result in a fall of wickets which reduces the capacity to score at an express pace in the last few overs.
That is why with someone like Raina, for example, and even Sachin Tendulkar on the few occasions they have batted for a long period together, he has shown how very quick runs can be scored while preserving wickets. Bevan did the same. These are very smart cricketers. This is why he is different from Afridi who, talent wise is superior to Dhoni but has cow-dung between his ears.
A cricketer who can run quickly between wickets, keep rotating the strike, maintain a very decent strike rate even if a tad bit lower than the nail-biting edge-of-the-chair fan expects keeps the team very much in the run for he trusts his ability to score at an express rate towards the end. However, if wickets fall, even the best of strikers, Afridi, Razzaq, Kluesner et al, may not be able to score at 10-12 runs per over in the last 5-8 overs if the rabbits are at the other end. After all even the best of batsmen need just one good ball or one error of judgement to lose their wicket.
Dhoni also knows, to an incredibly fine degree of perfection, when to switch gears. This perhaps, is his greatest attribute. Of course, he will fail at times and fall before he has moved to top gear and the team's cause may suffer since he consumed far too many deliveries batting in the lower gear but he thinks, and rightly as we have seen, that the percentage of this happening is low enough to make the tactic more than worthwhile. is the big hotting. Bevan is not in the same category as Dhoni in this so we find Bevan maintained a relatively more even rate of scoring in the initial and latter stages of his innings - of course scoring faster in the latter part. Dhoni's two gears are pretty far apart which is what leads to cynicism amongst some. I was among those once but it became clear soon enough that this man knew exactly what he was doing.
Mind you Dhoni has limitations, severe limitations, in batting technique. This comes from virtually no formal coaching whatsoever. But how he has overcome it is a marvel, I do not recommend any one to copy Dhoni's technique but that does not mean one can't look at him and admire what he does with the complete bottom hand and wrist dominated batting with hardly any backlift and not much follow through as well !!
So Dhoni is a gem but we need to understand his batting and admire him even when comparing him with others and not use his average to do so.
By the way, the 42,2 that he averages when he comes in to bat in or before the 25th over is not given by me to show him in poor light. Most top order batsmen in the world would give away anything to average that. So no one needs to be defensive about his average batting early. I was only trying to show how averages can vary when a good batsman comes in with fewer overs left.
So he is a gem. I do not deny that. But he is not the greatest one day batsman, nor was Bevan and averages are not the way to decide where to place Sir Vivian Richards in that very short list