John Wright has revealed that Sourav Ganguly was too keen to pick MS Dhoni in the squad for the historic 2004 Pakistan tour but eventually, the ‘borderline’ decision had to be given in. Wright has also showered praise on Dhoni’s tactical acumen and the way he learnt a lot with his listening skills.
India’s tour of Pakistan in mid-2004 is a historic series in its own context with the passionate following of the teams at a political level and the high-voltage cricket it offered. With Rahul Dravid and Parthiv Patel keeping for India in the limited-overs and Test sides respectively, there were a few openings in regards to the keeping position but as Wright revealed Ganguly wanted to pick Dhoni in the side for the 2004 tour but eventually settled for Patel.
"Dhoni nearly toured with us to Pakistan (in 2004). Sourav was very keen to have him in the squad. He was on the borderline, and it was one of those decisions that could have gone either way. As it turned out, we selected a successful Test team, and he didn't make it," Wright told IANS in an interview.
"That was obviously when Dhoni had started to come into discussions at the national level. Sourav had very good things to say about him and always encouraged youngsters who came into the set-up. But you never know how things would have worked out (for Dhoni had he been picked for the Pakistan tour). That's when I first started to hear about him.”
The Jharkhand man retired from all forms of international cricket on August 15, India’s Independence Day, after making his one-day international debut in December 2004 against Bangladesh in Chittagong. What stood out in the 16-year journey was Dhoni’s stoic personality and a solid cricketing brain which picked up the debris to formulate a strategy before anyone else could and Wright attributed the same to Dhoni’s listening skills.
"And Dhoni seemed to be reading the game an over ahead. That's always a sign of a good, strategic captaincy. He's obviously one of India's greatest captains along with one or two in the Modern Era. He has certainly been fantastic for India. His record speaks for itself.
"It was obvious that Dhoni was not only a very gifted cricketer but also an extremely intelligent one. He was a very good listener who didn't say much in his first series (under me), but was observing and learning all the time. I thought at the time that he had a big future in front of him," said the articulate former left-handed opening batsman.”