That Man Dhoni..

The challenge for writing a blog about modern cricketers is, you will not have any nostalgia to share. One, their sagas are still fresh in everyone’s memory and two, every moment of their life is captured in 24X7 video coverage, you may not have anything left to write about. Let me explain.

On a cold February morning in 1981 in Chennai (OK I understand you can’t say a cold day and Chennai – a kind of oxymoron – so let’s say pleasant morning in Chennai), I had to drop our neighbour’s son in school. I was confident that something great is going to happen in a place a million miles away in Australia. So I carried my pocket transistor with me. I dropped him, parked the bicycle under a tree, switched on the Radio and listened the commentary of the final overs and an emphatic series tying win against Australia. Kapil Dev (Happy Birthday Kapil Dev) who did not play the previous day due to some injury, took some painkillers and bowled the spell of his career and India won. Also the folklore, that, when GR Viswanath scored a century, India did either win or managed an honorable draw was kept alive.

Cut to August 1990, I was taking a trial in a paper mill in Balasore Odisha. This was before the advent of cable TV and I was carrying my faithful transistor with me. The boy genius who went on to become ‘the master blaster’ was scoring his first century helping India to avoid a certain defeat. The match was being played in Old Trafford, England and I caught up with every single delivery Tendulkar faced on a small transistor.

With Dhoni, things are bit different. He burst on to International cricket and Indian homes after India got 24X7 cable and satellite television. His every innings, every interview, every bike car acquisition was beamed live. It’s not the question did I watch it live, it is just the matter of where I watched – at home or a hotel room. We kind of watched his complete metamorphosis from flowing hair (T-20 world cup), to shaven head (after 2011 world cup) to his beard turning from black to salt and pepper to more silver kind.

Dhoni 3
Dhoni over the years

But then, during his evolution, we also evolved. From switching off the idiot box once Sachin (Tendulkar) got out to as long as Dhoni is there, we will win’ confidence. And most of the times he delivered, thus becoming the greatest finisher in One Day Matches. Sorry Michael Beven – you were dethroned. 

Dhoni probably is more fortunate to become captain of a team which was developing this ‘can win – will win’ attitude instilled by Saurav Ganguly. But that was to come later. When he took the Indian Team to South Africa for the first T-20 world cup, he had some good players (not big stars yet) and many new ones. No one expected India to win. Maybe Dhoni had. It’s the same when Kapil went to England for the World Cup third edition in 1983. Kapil winning World Cup changed Cricket in India and Dhoni bagging the first T-20 cup changed our approach to T-20 cricket, paving way to the most lucrative IPL to be born.

We can’t even imagine the pressure he must have had before the 2011 world cup. After all we did not win one after 1983 and to add to his woes,  the championship was happening in India. In one of the interview, Dhoni mentioned that for about 18 months prior to the WC, the only question he was asked was, ‘will we win the world cup?’ That he delivered when billion people were watching every moment, provides us with an insight on how mentally tough he is and the how did get the ‘captain cool’ tag.

He also became an heartthrob of people of Chennai when he became the captain of IPL Chennai franchise. Everywhere he goes, he is greeted with only one word, ‘Thalai’ meaning leader.

What I like more about the mega stars of Indian Cricket is, they serve as good role models to millions of young people in India and outside. They are very careful in what they say or do in public and players like Dhoni and Tendulkar fiercely protect their personal lives. Sangakara, the Sri Lankan legendary cricketer,  once mentioned that, it is easy for him to go for a walk in the morning near his house in Colombo and have a cup of tea in a small shack. But when he tries to get out of his hotel room in Chennai he is mobbed. So we all can imagine the pressure our cricketers go through. With all the adulation he has received (he still is), Dhoni has kept his cool both on and off the field.

I had great hopes on Rahul Dravid as a Captain; unfortunately with one bad series, he gave up captaincy. But he proved me right serving now as an excellent coach to young cricketers. As far as Dhoni is concerned, given his extraordinary leadership qualities, I am sure he will play his second innings as a leader in the state and even at national level. Let’s raise a toast to one of our future leaders.

As I was writing this, I remembered that when the first T-20 world cup was being played in 2007, I was in Munich for the Octoberfest (Yes Naga – the festival is just for drinking beer). On the day of the final I was traveling from Munich to Heidelberg. We stopped enroute to visit a monastery where they also brew beer. When I was about to get into the bus, JK called me to say that we have won the final against Pakistan.  So there is some nostalgia after all.

We will not be hearing the words during commentary, ‘As long as That Man Dhoni is at the crease, India can definitely win this match even from the situation they are in’ anymore. As long we were hearing them they gave us hope, excitement which culminated in unbridled joy. Take a bow Mr. Dhoni.

He has just announced his retirement through his Instagram post, Mukesh singing in the background, ‘Mein Pal Do Pal Ka Shayar Hoon’  – I’m a poet only for a moment or two.’ What great moments they are, which will playback in a loop in our memory, as long as we breathe.

Thank You Dhoni for the happy and lovely days of cricket you gave us. And all the very best to your new endeavours.

7 thoughts on “That Man Dhoni..

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  1. That’s a fantastic one , turned around in a very short time. You are right, it would have been difficult to write this than any blog on other greats. He demonstrated leadership lessons through religion called cricket to couple of generation already during his career. Wish him the best

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  2. Good instant writing r.ramesh when the news of Dhoni”s retirement is fresh.we love Dhoni as a sportsman while on the field or off the field. He is a great inspiration to many. Well done.

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  3. தோனி யை பற்றி மிகவும் அழகாக ௭ழுதி இருக்கிறாய். மிகச் சிறந்த விளையாட்டு வீரர். பொருமை , தன்னடக்கம் நிறைந்த விளையாட்டு வீரர். சென்னை சூப்பர் கிங்ஸ் அணி க்கு தலைமை வகித்து நமக்கு பெருமை சேர்த்தவர். நம்பிக்கை நட்சத்திரம். மனதை கவர்ந்த மனிதன். கௌரவமாக சரியான சமயத்தில் விலகுவது பெருமை தரும் விஷயம். அவருக்கு நம்முடைய பாராட்டு.

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  4. டோனியை விட சிறந்த பேட்ஸ்மன்கள் நம் அணியில் இருக்கிறார்கள்,இருந்தார்கள்,இருப்பார்கள் ஆனால் இவரை போல அதிக முறை வெற்றியடைய செய்தார்களா என்றால் “இல்லை” என்பது தான் அனைவரின் பதிலாக இருக்கும்.

    சச்சினை விட சிறந்த பேட்ஸமன்களை பார்ப்பது அரிது,அந்த சச்சின் கூட இந்த அளவிற்கு நம்பிக்கையுடன் “சேஸ்” செய்து வெற்றியடைய செய்ததில்லை,இங்கு தான் டோனி இமயமளவிற்கு உயர்கிறார்.

    பூவோடு சேர்ந்து மணக்கும் நார் போல கடைநிலை பேட்ஸ்மன்கள் கூட டோனியுடன் விளையாடும் போது சிறந்த பங்களிப்பை அளித்தார்கள,அதுவே அவரது சிறப்பு.

    டோனி ஒரு கால்பந்து அணியில் விளயாடினாலும் அவர் விளையாடும் அணி ஜெயிக்கும் என்று தமிழக மக்கள் நம்பும் அளவிற்கு நம்பிக்கை அளித்தது எல்லோராலும் முடியாதது.

    கடின உழைப்பு மட்டுமல்ல அதிர்ஷ்டமும் அவருக்கு உதவியது 2007 ,20/20 ஃபைனலில் மிஸ்பா ரிவர்ஸ் ஸ்வீப் ஷாட் அடித்து அவுட் ஆகியதும் வேறு வழியில்லாமல் கடைசி ஓவர் ஜோகிந்தரை போட வைத்த முடிவு வெற்றிகரமாக முடிந்ததும் கடவுளின் கருணையால் தான்,கடின உழைப்பாளிகளுக்கு கடவுள் இப்படியும் உதவுகிறார்.

    இப்போதுள்ள கொரானா அவசர நிலையிலும் டோனி ஓய்வு அறிவிப்பு வந்த அடுத்த நாளிலயே ரமேஷை ப்ளாக் எழுத வைத்தது டோனியின் தவிர்க்க முடியாத ஆளுமையே.

    எல்லோரும் அறிந்த தகவல்களை சுவையாக சொன்னதில் ரமேஷின் திறமை பாராட்டுக்குறியது 👏👏👏

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  5. Such an apt recollection of the times and impact of Dhoni. Very few sportspeople have captured the imagination in recent times like he has. His persona, his demeanour, that smile and his wisecracks on the field- everything will be sorely missed.
    Who else could have choosen a humble song like ‘Main pal do pal ka shayar hoon’ but ‘that man Dhoni’ 🙂

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