India’s most successful captain and probably the best in the present generation, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, calls it a day to the reigns of captaincy and he does it in his style – calm and simple. Multiple newspapers and digital media reported that he spent the day after his announcement playing PS with his Jharkhand teammates. It doesn’t come across a surprise for a man who always trusted his instincts and backed his decisions.
My association with M S Dhoni is largely selfish if you might want to call it so. My journey with him, started back in 2007 when he was handed the T20I captaincy and I was going through a difficult phase of sorts.
10 years hence, the man had witnessed every success that you could think of for an international cricket captain. He won World T20 championship, followed it up with No. 1 Test ranking and completed the trio with ODI World Cup. It just doesn’t end there as India won Champions Trophy in England. The list continues with multiple IPL Trophies and Champions League title.
I might not have seen success in the scale of his but I had won my own battles. The first and probably the biggest learning I had from him was way back in 2007 when he mentioned the reasoning behind why there is no point in worrying about the outcome. It might seem a simple proposition but the younger me needed someone to tell me that.
M S Dhoni might not be the most skillful or talented player of his times but he exactly knew where to put his money on. The question most people doesn’t often ask themselves is: if there is one attribute about you that you can bet your life on, what would that be? I asked the question myself and I do always now. Back yourself is what he always believed in.
As the limited overs formats started to reign over the longer format, it took a sense of adaptability not just for the players but for the viewers too. This is what M S Dhoni mentioned about the way to deal limited overs when you are constrained by your resources:
“In Tests, there is only one variable you can control – wickets and with limited resources, we had back then, it was often tough to manage the variable. Whereas in limited overs format, you have two variables to control – wickets and deliveries. The more variables you have, the easier it gets as long you have one variable sorted out.” More variables are not always chaos; you just need to know the variable you can control effectively.
As the leader, he trusted his players. He wanted the ones who does the job for him- doesn’t matter if it was the most popular choice. The leader needs to do what it takes to get the job done which would often lead to unconventional decision making. “Think out of the box” is the most commonly and very abusively used terminology but to think what fits and ticks the box is not a common choice recommended.
As like many admirers of his, I got into many arguments about why he is much resourceful than others. But, as time passed by, as the man transformed from being an example of machoism with his long hair and often references to his love towards advanced bikes, to a man of brains who brought the intellectualism to the game, I changed myself too.
He is a man who effectively helped transition Indian cricket from the generation of masterful Big 4 to the aggressive generation which demands them to be jack of multiple trades. The generation needed a leader that could choose the trade that is most needful and back it.
M S Dhoni is that mentor and role model for many of our generation as he is for me.