It was a simple warm-up game for England but a star-studded affair for the fans! They turned up in numbers to watch one man — Mahendra Singh Dhoni! The fall of a wicket was greeted with anticipation by thousands chanting his name. And, when he strode out, he didn’t disappoint as he smashed a strokeful fifty. One could sense that this routine warm-up had become a special affair, with many terming it Dhoni’s swansong from captaincy.
Yes, it is the end of an era — one that has seen India scale dizzying heights at the highest level! Yes, all good things end. It is a fact of life! Log in to social media and you will find numerous posts in tribute. The outpouring of emotions following Dhoni’s resignation from captaincy has been as if the wicketkeeper-batsman has called time on his career. It simply reflects the persona of Dhoni and the icon he has become for the cricket-loving public! However, it is time to think objectively and realise that it is the right call.
For starters, Dhoni isn’t going anywhere in one-day cricket and will be around as a senior statesman for Virat Kohli and co. Some may argue that he hasn’t been the same force in recent times and that retirement may be on the horizon. Possible! But, let the future answer those questions. As cricket lovers, one must enjoy every bit of Dhoni’s remaining career. Congratulate him for his splendid contribution as India captain and wish him well for the future. Celebrate his captaincy and welcome Kohli’s ascendancy. As said by many, this may help him play with more freedom in future and allow him the licence to express himself.
At 35, Dhoni may be in the final phase of his career but one cannot predict how long it will last. One gets the sense that he will take a call once he assesses his fitness, performance etc. As long the level is good and that there is no cause to complain, he will stay and he should. However, this phase may also bring the best out of him. Numerous players have found some of their best years on the wrong side of 35.
The best example one can give the Indian fan is that of Sachin Tendulkar. In his early 30s, he battled injuries yet fought back! Tendulkar played some great cricket from 2007 until the 2011 World Cup. He got the first One-Day International (ODI) double at the age of 36. In Test cricket, he scored two more Test doubles after the age of 37 and went on to win the World Cup. Those were very prolific years for India’s greatest. Today, Dhoni is 35 and he can keep an eye on the 2019 World Cup, for it is a realistic goal. If he manages to remain fit and perform, one doesn’t see why he cannot last until then.
As written in a previous article, the helicopter hasn’t landed, but has merely changed course! Save the emotions for his retirement, for his loss will be colossal to the one-day team!