I have been a blind fan of the Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who has taken Indian cricket to blinding heights in all three formats of the game. He is rightfully hailed as the most successful captain in the world.
But what he did at the press conference after losing out to the West Indies in the semi finals is unpardonable which is surprisingly being passed off as light-hearted banter.
Australian journalist Samel Ferris from cricket.com asked him a very normal question,”You have archived pretty much everything in cricket. Would you like to continue playing on.”
With a smile on his face, captain cool MS Dhoni invited Ferris to sit with him and asked him”,Do you want me to retire…Do you think I am unfit, looking at my running…Do you think I can survive till 2019, the next (World Cup).
When the clearly stumped Ferris said hesitatingly”Ummm …Ya sure” Dhoni told him”Then you have the answer to your question.”
If that was his honest answer Samel Ferris would not have asked the question in the first place.
But the unkindest cut was yet to come.
As a parting shot he told the national and international media ,”I wish I was asked that question by an Indian media person. Then I would have asked him if he had a son or a brother who is old enough and who can play as wicket keeper. If he would have said No, then may be I would have said OK, maybe a brother who can can play and who is a wicket keeper.”
This is downright arrogance.
I wonder why the Indian sports journalists are not making an issue of this “playful banter” which is being played and replayed all over the social media. Why are the former cricketers who are well paid commentators on various channels not protesting and boycotting the game.
Jobs are not easy to come by nowadays. But this is a time to react and protest against the blatantly arrogant and biased comments.Does this not clearly club all Indian journalists as greedy and biased who have a personal axe to grind if they ask the Indian captain if he wanted to play on.Were these questions not being put to Sachin Tendulkar when he had stopped performing, not to go very long back, Sachin had a much longer cricketing career than Dhoni but he never turned rude like this.
It seems the journalists covering cricket are not allowed to ask critical questions by the BCCI which is shocking.
In fact Suveen Sinha who wrote the piece ‘Why Dhoni’s banter with scribe is no laughing matter’ in the Hindustan Times is the National Business Editor of HT.
He is more hurt than shocked when he writes,”When Dhoni was bantering with the Australian, the other journalists in the hall were laughing.They would, no sports journalist would want to be anything but nice to the formidable India captain.That’s why this piece had to be written by someone whose day job is to write on business and economy.”
Not that there are no vested interests in business journalism, far from it. The stakes are much higher there we know. But this comment of Dhoni cannot be taken but as a slur on Indian journalism.
I have been a great fan of Dhoni, his guts,instinctive judgments, his captaincy and his commitment to the game.Talking about his cricketing decisions I trust him blindly because he is truly blessed in some divine sort of way.
I am not questioning his decision to bring Virat Kohli to bowl the last over of the match against the West Indies.He always likes to surprise his opponents. Remember the last over he handed over to one Joginder Sharma( where is he now) in the first T20 World Cup. And India won the inaugural World Cup.
Or his decision to hand over the ball to spinners instead of pacers when India and Pakistan had tied in the same World Cup with equal scores. Victory had to be decided by hitting at a single wicket with five balls. While Pakistan brought in its pacers to have a shy at the wicket Dhoni used his spinners who threw Pakistan out of the T20 games by hitting the stump thrice. Since that fateful day Pakistan has never won a single match in the 20-20 World Cup against India.
It was Dhoni who led the Indian triumph against a dominating and arrogant Australian team led by the punter Riki Ponting in Australia.The young Indian team led by Dhoni met their aggression with aggression even though an inquiry was set up against the Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh for being a racist by calling Andrew Symonds a monkey.
He was let off by the committee when Bhajji told them that he had not called him a monkey but said, ” Teri maa ki” which is a common Punjabi abuse but not a racist comment. Ponting never came out of that shock and the Australian team lost its position at the top.
My own reading is that Ponting, who is known as punter lost out to Dhoni because he is a better gambler than him. He trusts his instincts and even the team management lets him have his way most of the time.
In the quarter finals against Australia he brought in Yuvraj Singh to bowl against the Australian captain, the most dangerous man in their team and he was bowled on the first ball.
Dhoni has done more for Indian cricket than anyone else, having won the World Cup both in ODI, the 20-20 version and also reached the top of the pinnacle in Tests.
That is what Ferris meant when he asked that question but instead of taking it as a compliment he cast a slur on the Indian media which cannot be allowed to go without an apology.
By Amitabh Srivastava