Shakespeare’s ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’, is probably tailor made for the Indian cricket captains. At least in the last couple of decades, no captain has had an easy run, with the controversy peaking with Sourav Ganguly. Rahul Dravid was almost relieved to give up the post of captain and MS Dhoni walked into the scenario. Later with Anil Kumble opting out of leading the side at tests, MS Dhoni took up the role of full-fledged Indian skipper.
In the recent times, MS Dhoni has become symbolic of the rise of the small town middle class India. With a mix of a little aggressiveness and also the signature humility of the Indian middle class, there was no way that he couldn’t become the Indian poster boy. In 2007 when he took up captaincy, lament was thick in the air. The fab four would be gone sooner or later. Some said Indian cricket would be in Dire Straits. And it was exactly round that time that Dhoni captained the side to win the inaugural ICC T20 World Cup.
Years later MS Dhoni is not exactly as popular as he earlier was. Do we love to see our heroes fall? Or is Dhoni controversy’s favourite child? May be he is. Dhoni’s recent on field fiasco with Mustafizur Rehman shows a very different side of the man fondly named Captain Cool. Though Sourav Ganguly was quick to defend Dhoni, and so were his fans, the question still remains at large. Is the flamboyance of Kohli affecting him? Should we go all out in this witch hunting? Wasn’t he the same man who called back Ian Bell after that controversial run out? Weren’t we the same fans that had eulogized him for his sportsmanship spirit?
If we look at the ‘it is time for MS Dhoni to step down’ as a subject, we will realize that it is going on forever. He is often alleged for having been instrumental in the sacking of Dravid and Ganguly from the Indian ODI squad in 2007. However Ganguly was also controversy’s favourite child (and has been dropped for bizarre reasons even before MS Dhoni came to the party) and Dravid (his fans would vouch for this) wouldn’t have liked to overstay.
MS Dhoni is also said to have a spat with his contemporaries Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan and Sehwag. Sehwag was his deputy for a while and they did not have a very good rapport. All these names, including a Gautam Gambhir were eventually dropped from the side. But it is necessary to note that they did not have illustrious records at the time for exclusion.
His closeness with Srinivasan and the growing corruption in IPL (the CSK being an integral part of the controversies) did not let MS Dhoni bask in the glory of the World Cup for too long.
Mohinder Amarnath had brought up the issue of the Sinivasan- Dhoni lobby back in 2012. The team’s debacle in Australia and England had called for the sacking of MS Dhoni . The unanimous decision of the board was trashed by the Supremo Srinivasan. Amarnath known for his firebrand attitude had nonchalantly said the truth and paved a way for media to eventually make it all the more threadbare. Srinivasan’s act is deplorable, but the question is who would have replaced Dhoni in 2012? Kohli? Was Kohli mature enough at that point? The middle finger gesture is not the epitome of cricketing diplomacy.
In spite of all the corruption in BCCI and Srinivasan’s policies we’ve had successful runs in the ODIs. And history has a long record of test debacles. Therefore blaming one man for the entire downfall is wrong.
MS Dhoni had the odds in his favour and continued as Indian Captain for a very long time. No other skipper had this luxury.
Let us look at this record. From 2007-2015 MS Dhoni has had a success rate of 60.58% in ODIs, which maybe not is not great in the world scenario, but is the best bet in the Indian scenario.
Source: Espn Cricinfo
With all his misgivings of promoting his favourite players (Jadeja for example) and his fixation with his batting position, MS Dhoni has also given us a century of wins in ODIs.
It is true that by the time MS Dhoni decided to retire in test matches, the damage was done. There were loud whispers of his not wanting to play under Kohli, Kohli and Dhawan’s dressing room fiasco etc. And when MS Dhoni was to take back the reins from the stand in skipper Kohli there was another controversy in waiting. The uncomfortable truth is India lost the Adelaide test in spite of Kohli’s aggressiveness. Sunil Gavaskar vociferously spoke on the need for putting the captaincy issue to rest. “I am absolutely in favour of being an aggressive captain. But it should also be tempered with a little bit of prudence”, the legendary batsman had added.
It was tomfoolery to even tease the issue as the World Cup was so close. Name calling by sections of columnists and likening him to the disastrous last years of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was absolutely uncalled for. As far as retirement is concerned Indian Cricket has the history of waiting for a year to see that one century. We’ve had power centres, zonal lobbies and out of turn sacking of players. Our cricketing history is not clean after all.
Why the discomfort for MS Dhoni then? What is it that makes us live in the past and deify retired cricketers? Kapil Dev is thanked to this day for the 1983 World Cup. Why not cut some slack for the 2011 World Cup too?
Kohli is the inevitable future captain but why the hurry? As another successful captain Ganguly says, we can give some respect and time to MS Dhoni . There is no charm in seeing heroes fall.