This article is not about the game. This article is not about media. This article is not about the records. This article is not about the fans. This article is about the incidences on/off field which have/will heavily influence this great sport in India. This article is about Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
India is blessed with the abundance of talent across all walks of life. Sadly, not all get to see the bright light & achieve the fame, which they truly deserve. Others, however, can turn anything into gold by a mere touch. Unfair, right?
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is probably the most well known name in India today. The captain of Indian team, who, with his ‘Midas’ touch, has managed to win everything that any Indian would has ever desired. Cricket World Cup, T20 World Cup, Number 1 in Test match cricket and the elusive wins outside the Indian subcontinent to name a few. This guy has gone further than any other Indian captain has ever been. However, does he deserve all this praise? My answer: HELL NO!
Strangely enough, the experts haven’t talked about his wicket-keeping skills. Numerous catches have been dropped in the last couple of years and still, nobody questions his technique. Having said that, his record behind the stumps is remarkable but is a wicket keeper in the team only to catch the balls once the batsman lets it go? Whatever happened to cheering up your bowlers? What happened to cheering up the team? What happened to ‘Aai ga’ ‘Shabbash’ ‘badiya hai’ chirps caught by the stump mic? Why is it that MSD smiles/shows happy emotion only when he has taken a good catch? Wicketkeepers are supposed to be the energy force behind the bowling team, where has this disappeared in the last few years? MSD is capable of all the above, and yet, everything seems missing from his game.
It’s an understatement to say that MSD is not the same batsman as he was during his initial days. The flamboyance has disappeared. The genuine passion for the game, which dripped from his face, is missing. Failures have taken a toll on him and he is now struggling to put forward his usual brilliance on the field. There is no doubt that MSD is an exceptional hitter of the cricket ball, why is it that he hasn’t done it often enough? Why has a butcher turned into a sheep farmer? I understand that at times, the team requires you to construct a cautious innings. Only at times. As a batsman, there are only a handful of innings that he has played to change the course of the match, and most of it, came when he wasn’t the captain of the team. We have seen his infamous ‘helicopter’ shot more in commercials and less on the field. I was an admirer of his attacking play (I still am), but its heartbreaking to see him lose that aspect of the game so early in his career. Yes, I do believe that he has a long way to go, provided, he gets back to being the MSD that took the world by storm.
Dhoni’s captaincy has not changed from day 1. His mantra is pretty simple; let the players do what they desire as long as they bring the positive results. It sounds good till things start to go south! Since 2007, when he took over the captaincy, there are hardly any noteworthy performances by him on field. They say, ‘Captain must lead from the front’, how often have you used this term for MSD since 2007? Infact, at times he has done things, which no international cricket should do: Choosing domestic cricket over international games. Two years in a row, MSD has taken a break from international cricket (Against WI & England) citing ‘overload of cricket’ as the excuse. Why didn’t he sit out of IPL if he thought he was getting burnt out? Agreed that IPL is all about the money & glamour, but at what cost? His policy, “players at this level know their responsibility & should do as expected.” Sounds good to the ears, but how practical is it? Virat Kohli has a documented history of abusing umpires, opposition players, fans & media personnel but MSD hasn’t done much about it – How do I know? Well, what did Kohli do after scoring his first Test century? Yes, BHENCHOD!
Clearly, everything that MSD has believed in, has failed miserably. Seven straight Test match losses are enough proof. As a cricket fan, I don’t mind the losses; I mind the manner in which my team lost – Repetitive mistakes, no planning, zero inspiration/motivation, unwillingness to improvise and lack of fight. This is unfathomable; especially from a team which was World Number 1 just a year back.
I have no qualms about players endorsing different brands, admit it, nobody minds some extra cash. Hell, I enjoy watching the IPL and passing comments on how stupid these players look in different commercials. Having said that, I am sick & tired of feeling let down by the team that, in an ideal world, should beat the crap out of most opponents.
As any other Indian, even I have certain suggestions for Captain Fantastic:
- If you have cherished all the praise & adulations given to you by the media, learn to take all the criticism as well. It is a shame to hear you talk about quitting the game when the team is in the gutter.
- People like Kohli & Shreesanth are immensely talented and as the captain of the team, it is your duty to help them channelize their energy in the right direction.
- No more ‘he plays like that and we can’t do much about it’ statements for players like Sehwag.
- Adopt the Steve Waugh method of being shrewd with the bowlers & make them learn the basics of batting. It was pathetic to see Zaheer Khan throw away his wicket every time he walked in to bat in Australia.
- Stop the BS about constructing the innings; you are at your best when you destroy the opposition’s bowlers. Do it!
I am not a Dhoni fan, but even I believe that he has it in him to help Indian team bounce back & be the world leaders in the game of cricket. It is safe to say that his honeymoon period with the media is over, it is time for harsh realities & he needs to grow a pair and face it like a man. Domestic fixtures like IPL & CLT20 are good on the eyes, but that’s precisely where their importance ends.
On that note, here is a question for all: Do you think Dhoni would have secured his position in the team for so long if he weren’t the captain?