Saurabh Somani writes about the hoopla created by the announcement that MS Dhoni had stepped down as Indian cricket captain. He goes on to explore both scenarios of why or why not Dhoni owes his fans an explanation for the sudden decision to give up the post with which he will always be associated.
It was not such a sleepy time 14 months later, but it was still the after-lunch phase. India had just drawn a Test against Australia, and more crucially, MS Dhoni had just finished what would be his final press conference as the Indian Test captain, or player for that matter. Only, no one knew that the word ‘final’ was to be attached to that previous sentence then. A few minutes later, another innocuous looking press release landed. There was a similar flurry, but a tad more confusion. Had Dhoni announced his retirement at the press conference? If so, we could expect reams of copy on his thoughts, his captaincy, the works – because he would surely have been asked all that. It quickly became clear that the release had come only after Dhoni had answered the final question and put a safe distance between him and anyone else.
How did he strategise when he had a limited bowling attack versus a potent one? What did he think of domestic cricket as the feeder system for the international team – was it producing robust enough players? Where did they lack? Was the perception that he felt more at home captaining in limited-overs than in days’ cricket correct? Why if yes, why if not? Did the man behind the poker face ever worry or wonder about the legacy he was building or leaving behind, from reaching No. 1 to losing 0-8? Did he really worry that India could have lost a Test in Dominica when he shook hands with 15 overs to go? And, you know, just why did he have that deep point so often so early?
At the same time, if you see – as we’ll surely miss Dhoni saying post-match – cricket occupies a space in the hearts of millions of his countrymen that is somewhere between pilgrimage and well, orgasm. It is because there are so many Indians willing to sink so much of time and money in the game that the BCCI is the richest body in the world, that players like Dhoni are living the exalted lifestyle they do. The game may have given them everything, but it’s the fan that has given the game everything. To that fan, Dhoni owes some words. Not necessarily an explanation if he doesn’t want to delve into it, but words in the form of a farewell message that will help with closure.
Read the full article here.