Steve Waugh has labelled Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as "street smart" and knows his limitations as a leader. In Mumbai for a charity event, the former Aussie Test captain praised India for their 95-run victory against England at Lord's on Sunday.
Waugh slammed Alastair Cook for his tactics and advised the embattled England skipper to trust his instincts and stop "captaining for the commentators".
Ishant Sharma took a career-best 7 for 74 as England lost five wickets in a space of 33 runs to collapse like a pack of cards on Day 5 of the second Test. Ishant used the short-pitched ball to telling effect as England's batsmen played atrocious strokes to gift India the game.
Waugh said India used the conditions at Lord's better than the hosts and if they can retain their consistency, Dhoni's men will challenge Australia when they travel Down Under later this year.
"I was very encouraged by (Mohammed) Shami and (Bhuvneshwar) Kumar the other day. They bowled really well. I was impressed with Ishant Sharma. I don't know why (Ravichandran) Ashwin is not playing. The batting is very good and there is no reason why they can't be very competitive," Waugh said.
The Lord's Test seemed to be heading for a draw still England lost Moeen Ali at the stroke of lunch on Sunday. Dhoni didn't seem too keen on forcing a result till Ishant triggered the post-lunch collapse.
"I don't follow cricket that closely these days, but I'm surprised he chooses to do it (settle for draws). You got to be prepared to lose a Test to win it. There's so much competition between various sports these days that you need to put out a good product. People want to see results," said Waugh.
Having been at the helm of affairs, should Dhoni quit Test captaincy then? "He's a street smart guy. He'll work that out. In a lot of ways it is not his decision you have the selectors for that," Waugh replied.
Waugh criticized Cook for his captaincy.Â The England captain has received flak from pundits and that seems to have made him more unimaginative, feels Waugh.Â Cook must trust his instincts and stop "captaining for the commentators", Waugh told BBC Test Match Special, adding: "What he needs to do is do it his way."
Waugh was particularly critical of Cook's strategy in the first innings of the Lord's Test, when Liam Plunkett was asked to bombard the tourists with bouncers on a pitch offering prodigious movement. The tactic backfired as India recovered from 145-7 to post 295 all out.
"The mistakes Cook made on Thursday were, I think, because he was captaining for the commentators," said Waugh, who won 41 of his 57 Tests as Australia captain between 1999 and 2004.
"They have given him (Cook) a lot of criticism about how he has been boring and hasn't got the game moving along. But 145-7 on a flat track, that is when you needed to be boring, bowl line and length and wait for the nick.
"They could have bowled India out for 180 and been 150 runs in front. Instead they went for the 'Bodyline' theory, leg side, just to be innovative and seen to be doing something. Unfortunately he picked the wrong time to be innovative."