Struggles 'will improve Cook'

  • Last Updated: July 8 2014, 16:48 BST

If anyone can empathise with Alastair Cook's current problems, it is Mahendra Singh Dhoni - his opposite number in the forthcoming Investec Test series.

MS Dhoni: Feels empathy for Cook
MS Dhoni: Feels empathy for Cook

It is a conservative estimate that India captain Dhoni has 10 times more people - in his cricket-mad homeland - to satisfy than Cook has in England.

Exacting standards are of course required too of the world's most populous cricketing country, and a run of 14 Tests without a victory away from home is nothing to crow about.

While Cook tries to arrest his own sorry sequence without a Test century, to add to his national record 25 - and no victory either in England's last seven under his leadership - Dhoni's advice, broadly, is to keep calm and carry on.

"It is a difficult job being a captain," Dhoni said.

"It is a difficult phase for him and (one) each and every cricketer has faced - it doesn't matter if your name is one of the greatest in cricket or not.

"It is a phase he (must) also go through, and it will only improve him as a cricketer and (make him) a better human being."

Dhoni's thoughts on collective success or otherwise apply just as easily to his own side as Cook's - although on the eve of the first Test in Nottingham he was, in fact, speaking about the opposition.

India have spent the past winter losing narrowly in South Africa and then New Zealand, and also came up short in their last two series home and away against England - by a 4-0 whitewash here in 2011.

"It is a phase every team goes through - even the mightiest of teams, like West Indies when they were really dominating," said Dhoni.

"This England side has very good talent and very good players, so it is just a matter of time before they come back into form."

Dhoni is sanguine too about India's poor record on their travels.

He is trying to inspire the winning habit in the post-Tendulkar generation and notes that unchecked progress is highly unlikely for an inexperienced team.

Another change is perhaps in the offing, with a Test debut for Stuart Binny one option if India decide to sacrifice a frontline batsman for an all-rounder.

Reflecting on the tourists' recent fortunes, Dhoni said: "Stats are one thing that really teases the cricketers.

"There have been a lot of changes in the Indian side in the last one-and-half or close to two years.

"If I compare the first Test we played in South Africa and the last Test we played in New Zealand, there has been considerable improvement.

"Of course, it will be a challenge for them.

"But as they play a lot more matches abroad, the equation will get much better.

"It's a constant process."