Backing India's much-talked about rotational policy, Australian greats Greg Chappell and Matthew Hayden today emphasised the need to be a good fielder to survive in modern-day cricket.
Chappell and Hayden expressed their views a day after India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said seniors like Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were good fielders but on big Australian grounds they were "slightly on the slower side".
"The message to our players is quite clear. If you want to be an international cricketer, you have to be a good fielder, you have to be fit, you have to have good throwing arms, you have to bring more to the game than just runs or wickets," Chappell said.
Both the former players' observations are significant in the context of Dhoni's remarks. The former Aussie skipper felt that one has to be an exceptionally good batsman or a bowler to make up for his weakness as a fielder.
"If you are a Shane Warne or a Muttiah Muralitharan, takes 700 wickets, may be you will get away not being a good fielder, or a Sachin Tendulkar making a lot of runs but, by and large, for most players Don Bradman made more runs at better average than anyone else, but he spent more time in fielding than he did batting," said Chappell.
"So players need to understand that fielding is a very big component of the game. It's not something you just do between bowling stints and batting opportunities," he added.
Matthew Hayden believes Dhoni's rotational policy is the right way to go. PIC/SHADAB KHAN
Hayden said in ODIs a team has to be exceptional in the field and emphasised on the need for two-dimensional players. "In one-day cricket you have got to be an exceptional side. And Australian cricket had that for a long time. You have to be two-dimensional players. When you have too many players who are one-dimensional and that is exactly the case with the Indian team. You can't hide, especially in the massive grounds, where you have to run really hard. For example, Michael Hussey might be 36-37 but he has got the ability to run hard."
About the rotation policy, Hayden said, "It's really hard playing all the formats of the game, it's unfair. To me, someone like Tendulkar taking a decision to play only Test cricket is very special to the group moving forward. It gives younger players opportunities...to blood them (helps them gain experience) and get answers in all sorts of conditions."
Chappell said a team would "run into problems" if it plays the same XI all the time. "I think you have got to take opportunities to give other players exposure. We all know how full the international programme is. If you think you can play the same XI all the time you gonna run into problems."
"Fitness and enthusiasm ... all those things are going to wane over a period of time," he insisted. Chappell said the Indians had played 50 per cent more than the Aussies during his controversial coaching stint.
"I know that the time I spent with the Indian team it was constant cricket. They were playing 50 per cent more than the Australian players of that time. It's tough." He said that the Indian players look jaded in the ongoing tour of Australia.
"The Indian players in this team...you can see some of them were jaded, no doubt about that, even some of the Australian were. The selection process needs to take that into consideration. "You can't play the key players in every game. The best team is not always the same team." Citing the example of Brett Lee who has made a stunning comeback from a toe injury, Chappell said, "It's amazing what fresh bodies, fresh minds can do."