Quit while you’re ahead – that’s the sage advice that both MSD (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) and MMS (Manmohan Singh) should have been wise enough to follow. But if MMS feels history will judge him kindly, MSD might not be able to live down the connection with betting and conflict of interest. Which is why Srinivasan would do well to salvage what’s left of his reputation by bequeathing BCCI to a younger, more dynamic, less tainted option.
In the immediate aftermath of his decision, commentators have been kind on Dhoni, with Nasser Hussain leading the effusive brigade. The democratic touch with his social background that MSD brought to the Indian game and his earthy and ‘bindaas’ touch brought home several things and a cool, detached attitude was one definite factor. The fatcats of the BCCI thrived on his brand equity, but the MSD-Srinivasan tango raised more shindig than anything else; controversies surrounded the apparently unflappable and uncomplicated guy from Jharkhand.
Something had to snap sometime, and it has.
The importance of Dhoni, his quintessential contribution will surely endure: after all, he is the product of any ordinary middle class household’s favourite dream—a man who makes it to the top by his sheer resolve. At one point in life, he wanted to be a footballer. The fact that football does not capture eyeballs and is not a premier sport contributed to his ultimate choice. The fact that this uncomplicated man eventually came to becoming India’s cricket captain, meant carrying the additional burden of the hopes and dreams of millions. Certainly not an easy thing to shrug off, ever.
Dhoni would be happy that he went about his career on his own terms and even his retirement from Tests was announced on his own terms. He kept it to himself until the last minute and word was given without the customary press conference and a public farewell.