Sometimes you read something so poignant about cricket that you simply have to share it. Having read the excellent article in the Guardian by Mike Selvey about 1 billion people saying thank you to Sachin, I scrolled down to see the reaction of fans and readers in the comments. One comment from a person known only as Captain Jory pretty much summed up the MS Dhoni’s ‘coming of age’ story in the most eloquent of fashion…
“Tendulkar is an absolute legend, and that’s how he will be remembered.
However, in the context of this game, I would just like to put in a word for Dhoni, who I thought was immense. I remember a few years ago when he came out of nowhere like a whirlwind, blazing the ball out of the park from the very start of his career, like India’s very own Shahid Afridi. The long flowing locks and sex appeal only added to his stardom, giving him an almost Bollywood like aura.
The change from Dhoni then to Dhoni now is almost remarkable. Unlike Samson (and Adebayor / Torres and anyone else you can think of), getting his hair cut seemed to give him new powers. He has become such a pragmatic, resilient captain and batsman. Throughout the last few years, and especially over the last month or so he has had so much pressure on him, but he’s just gone about things its own way. To captain a team with the likes of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Laxman and Dravid in it and still look like the man in charge is quite an achievement in itself, but the burden on him and the scrutiny he has faced throughout this world cup was just immense.
He has completely changed his batting approach, and is no longer the six hitting trailblazer that he was. Yes, we all know he has it in him, but he has become so much more responsible, really playing for the team and allowing the others to bat around him while he sticks around and holds things together. True, it hasn’t worked all that well for most of the world cup, but even to be able to change his style so much is quite an achievement, and one which others, and Shahid Afridi comes to mind (despite his bowling heroics) could take note from.
There was a lot of criticism of his lack of willingness to talk with the media and to only give them the bare minimum; but that just seemed to me to be a man not wanting to let his guard down until the mission that had consumed him was complete. And right to the very end, he continued to show a steely determination.
And ultimately, when it mattered most, he absolutely delivered. Whilst Mahela Jayawardena’s century earlier was a real thing of beauty (and how I would love to eulogise about him, but this is already too long..), Dhoni’s innings was remarkable for his absolute coolness under pressure. He soaked it all up, kept his partners’ focus with regular pep talks and just batted in a way that you just knew he was going to be there at the end. A few boundaries aside, he played in such a calm way for the duration of his innings. But then, at the end, when it was possible to finish the game in one hit, he did just that; the slogger’s instinct in him took over and he creamed a beautiful six over long on. You felt that this was a man letting out a lifetime’s pressure compounded into six short weeks with one fell scoop. For a brief second he held his pose, his bat held majestically in position, as his eyes watched the ball sail over the boundary.
And then all hell broke loose, the Indian team went wild, and Sachin was rightly given a lap of honour on the shoulders of some of his teammates. But every now and then there was a shot of Dhoni in the background, smiling and looking relaxed, the mission of his life completed. Forget Bollywood, that is a real hero.
I’m actually a Pakistan fan, but (semi final aside) I have really enjoyed watching the Indian team playing in this World Cup, from Tendulkar and Sehwag right through to Yuvraj and Zaheer Khan. But, despite their heroics, I’ve been most impressed by Dhoni. We Pakistanis have not had a decent captain since perhaps the greatest captain of them all, Imran Khan, and even then I am too young to remember or have seen the majority of his career.
What I wouldn’t give for a Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the Pakistan side.”
Thanks to CAPTAIN JORY and The Guardian for such greatness on cricket…
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