Leave it to Mahendra Singh Dhoni to pull another fast one. On Wednesday (January 4) evening, he stepped down as India’s limited-overs captain, taking everyone by surprise. Once the initial shock wore off, the cricket fraternity began to introspect about his decision and his legacy. Make no mistake, Captain Cool will be missed dearly.
Elsewhere, The Guardian analysed why there have been more drubbings than draws in Test cricket of late, and N Srinivasan is back … to chair an informal Board of Control for Cricket in India meeting, that is.
Right decision at the right time (The Hindu)
By relinquishing the responsibility of captaincy in the shorter formats, he has only confirmed that no one can read his mind. No one. He surely wants to serve as a player at a most critical time for Indian cricket. Did he pre-empt a move from this selection committee? Not possible because his stature was too overwhelming for MSK Prasad and Co. to take a call on his captaincy.
Dhoni — Limited-overs cricket’s very own Don (Sportstar)
It should surprise nobody that Dhoni is the only cricketer in the history of the game to have led his team to victory in all limited-overs global tournaments on offer: the World Twenty20 in 2007, the World Cup in 2011 and the Champions Trophy in 2013. The manner in which he understands how to control the game, whether when he is marshalling his troops on the field or when shepherding a chase — and he is the one finisher who puts Michael Bevan to shame — is something the world game has never seen before.
Dilip Vengsarkar, the man who made MS Dhoni the skipper, looks back (Mid-Day)
Dhoni went on to take charge of all three formats of the game and led India to numero uno status in each of them. Did Dhoni’s all-round success as captain amaze him? “Not really,” shot back Vengsarkar. “When you pick a guy, you do so because he has potential. He is expected to succeed and that’s what Dhoni did. When a player who you pick fails, it is disappointing for a selector because again, you selected him for his potential. I will say Dhoni never disappointed me,” said Vengsarkar, who also picked Virat Kohli for a one-day international series in Sri Lanka during the 2008 season.
Great gambler (Mirror)
Those who knew him slightly better had no such doubts. They knew Dhoni’s ability of keeping his emotions under check. Melodrama isn’t his forte. He was never the one to deliver lines like “I gave my sweat and blood to the nation”. He was not going to let tears roll down his face while thanking his family, wife, kid and administrators.
A reputation staked on bold decisions, Dhoni makes one more (ESPNCricinfo)
In the high-pressure final, against the great rivals Pakistan, having given up a winning position in a match India originally had no business winning, amid blaring music, this man, in his first tournament as an international captain, told Joginder, two years younger to him: “You have bowled so many overs in domestic cricket with so much dedication, when no one is watching. Don’t worry, cricket won’t let you down now.”
Like with many things Dhoni, it can’t be said with certainty if he believes in concepts such as larger fairness or destiny. It is also not a Dhoni-like thing to say. He, after all, sought to take all emotion out of his cricket. At the same time Dhoni is not an unemotional person; he just shies from expressing them.
MS Dhoni will go down as one of the best captains the world ever saw (The Indian Express)
India had many choices. It was a team that had Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh. But the selectors chose Dhoni, a wicketkeeper-batsman only five years into his career. But who would have thought that the Ranchi boy with long hair will take India to title win in that World Cup.
MS Dhoni: Well played India’s most successful limited-overs skipper (The Economic Times)
It was like all things Dhoni. No prior intimation. No brouhaha. No melodrama. Just a matter of fact decision conveyed in the most matter of fact manner from India’s most successful limited-overs captain. Is it the right time to hand over the baton to Virat Kohli and will this prolong MSD’s career as an India player?
N Srinivasan is back, to chair BCCI’s informal meeting (The Indian Express)
N Srinivasan has called a meeting in Bangalore on Saturday that is likely to discuss the future course of action for the BCCI. According to a source, the former ICC and BCCI chief still has significant clout in the Indian cricketing fraternity and the meeting is likely to be attended by a host of administrative heavyweights like Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) secretary Kasi Viswanathan and Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) secretary Brijesh Patel. Even after the Supreme Court’s January 2 order that ousted Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke as the BCCI president and secretary respectively, a section of the cricket board maintains that the “game is not over yet”. Interestingly, Srinivasan has once again become a key figure in the BCCI to decide the way forward.
Why drubbings exceed draws in Test cricket’s modern era (The Guardian)
First, a quiz. In 2016, what linked the Tests between England and South Africa in Cape Town, West Indies and Australia in Sydney, England and Sri Lanka at Lord’s, the first between West Indies and India at Sabina Park, the fourth between those same teams at Queen’s Park Oval, South Africa and New Zealand in Durban, and India and England at Rajkot? The answer is so obvious you may have overlooked it: the result. There were 47 Tests in 2016, and those seven were the only ones that were drawn. So few you can list them all in a single paragraph. Only two decades ago, in 1997, almost half of all Tests played ended in a draw, 21 out of 44. Now you can count them on your fingers.
Peter Handscomb the mad scientist of batting (Sydney Morning Herald)
His innings had begun, on Tuesday, in the shadow of a shadow. Renshaw had come out from behind the breathtaking David Warner, and Handscomb quietly built his foundations behind Renshaw’s expansion. With 40 to his name as Wednesday got under way, Handscomb had a guarantee of success. We don’t yet know how he copes with failure in Test cricket, as he has dealt with the issue by not failing. Stationed with both feet behind his crease, Handscomb went about his patented method, opening the bat face with that weird single tap, waiting, waiting, playing chicken with the ball before tucking it nonchalantly to leg or back-cutting it off the tip of his off-bail.