Gary Kirsten has called MS Dhoni a loyal cricketer and revealed an instance when the former Indian skipper called off a team trip to Bangalore Air Station because the non-Indians were not allowed inside. Kirsten has further added that Dhoni has got an incredible presence as a leader.
MS Dhoni’s love for Army is no secret as the honorary Lt Col from the 106 Parachute Regiment of the Territorial Army is a qualified paratrooper after completing five parachute training jumps from Indian Army aircraft in the Agra training camp. While he had spent a considerable amount of time doing shooting, mountain climbing and other activities back in 2006 as a part of the team exercise, there was a moment before the 2011 World Cup when the Indian team had received an invitation from Bangalore’s Yelahanka AirForce Station to visit their base camp.
However, with only Indians allowed inside, it was a grave problem to have considering the Indian team had the likes of Paddy Upton and Eric Simmons in the support staff apart from Kirsten himself. Understanding the precarious position, Dhoni took no time in calling off the trip for the entire team.
“I’ve said on many occasions, he’s one of the most impressive people I’ve met. He’s a great leader of people, he’s got an incredible presence as a leader, but I think he’s loyal, and that’s the most important thing. I’ll never forget, just before the World Cup, we were invited to Bangalore to go to the flight school, to go and kind of have a look at that,” Kirsten told commentator Radhakrishnan Sreenivasan, during his Youtube show The RK Show.
“Obviously, we had a couple of foreigners in our support staff, and we got word back on the morning before the whole team was meant to go – and everyone was looking forward to the event – that the three South Africans, which were myself, Paddy Upton and Eric Simmons, weren’t going to be allowed into the flight school because it was seen as a potential security risk.”
“So MS cancelled the whole event. He just said, ‘These are my people. If they’re not allowed in, none of us are going’. And that was what he was about.”
Kirsten was the coach of the Indian side when they went on to win the World Cup in 2011 while reaching the No.1 Test ranking for the first time in their history two years earlier. The South African was really fond of Dhoni during that entire tenure and now, as he revealed, the appreciation was actually mutual.
“He was very loyal to me, and I think he saw it as well. There were times when we didn’t always win games and we’d have some tough times. We’d spend a lot of time, just one on one together, talking through, taking the team forward. I think we built a strong relationship in the three years we had together.”