NEW DELHI: Former India skipper MS Dhoni acted bravely and selflessly when he quit Tests suddenly and midway through the tour of Australia in 2014 with just 90 Tests under his belt and not dragging himself to 100 Test matches, Indian head coach Ravi Shastri has said.
“MS was India’s, in fact the world’s, biggest player then with three ICC trophies under his belt, including two World Cups, and some very impressive silverware from the IPL. His form was good, and he was just 10 matches shy of completing 100 Tests,” wrote Shastri in his book “Stargazing: The players in my life” that was released recently.
“Still one of the top-three fittest players on the team, he would have the opportunity to boost his career stats if nothing else. True, he wasn’t getting any younger, but he wasn’t that old either! His decision just didn’t make sense,” Shastri wrote further of MSD’s retirement plans.
The former India all-rounder, who has written about quite a few players in his book, added that he tried to convince the former India wicketkeeper to mull over his decision again. However, he feels Dhoni took the right decision by sticking to it.
Shastri was Indian team’s director cricket when Dhoni decided to hang his boots.
“All cricketers say landmarks and milestones don’t matter, but some do. I approached the issue in a roundabout way, probing for an opening to make him change his mind. But there was a firmness to MS’s tone that stopped me from pushing the matter any further. Looking back, I think his decision was correct; also brave and selfless,” Shastri wrote.
“Giving up on the most powerful position in cricket in the world, in a way, couldn’t have been easy.”
Shastri called Dhoni’s hands while wicket-keeping “quicker than a pickpocket’s”.
“MS is an unorthodox cricketer. His technique, in front of and behind the stumps, is not easily replicable. My suggestion to youngsters is don’t try imitating him unless it comes naturally. What made him so successful were his splendid hands. They were quicker than a pickpocket’s! No other wicketkeeper, at least in the era MS has played, was that fast. He was the best in the world for a long while, and in white-ball cricket by a long distance,” Shastri wrote further of Dhoni.
“MS was sharp in his observation of whatever was happening on the field, and uncanny when it came to taking decisions based on ‘reading’ the trend of play. This quality of his went unnoticed simply because he made such few mistakes. His success with the Decision Review System shows not just fine judgement, but also how well he would be positioned behind the stumps to make the call.”
Shastri termed Dhoni as one of the three most impactful Indian cricketers besides Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev.
“MS’s impact on Indian cricket has been enormous. As a player, he is in the same league as Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev where multi-format excellence is concerned. (Virat Kohli, if he sustains form for the next few years, will be included in this club, but I can’t think of a fourth right now.) Yet, this hardly looked likely when he first came on the international scene.”