Thursday, February 9, 2012

The tryst of being a “MIDAS”

Way back in history, there was a king of Macedonia, King Midas. The great king was blessed with a wish that anything he would touch would transform into pure gold. He was ecstatic with his good fortune, a feeling that he would be propelled among the greatest of kings, the richest and the most powerful. All went well, till he was hungry. He picked up a morsel to eat and it turned into pure gold, and he famished into oblivion.

Many thousands years later, one Mahendra Singh Dhoni bursted into the Indian cricket team. After years of misfit in the wicket keeping slot, Dhoni with his long mane was a refreshing change. From the irritating noise behind the stumps in Mongia days to the measured silence in Dhoni’s time, from the ghastly silence of runs from wicket keeper batsmen to the ballad of sixes in Dhoni’s days, he became the toast of the nation. His belligerent batting, his commitment to the game, his connect to the Indian youth propelled him to the greatest throne the cricket crazy nation could offer, the captainship of the “men in blue”. And the lad never disappointed. He won everything that came his way that the sport could offer to a captain. From T20 world cup to ODI world cup to test no. 1 team and even IPL & Champions league. Everything he touched turned into gold. Midas Dhoni’s team seemed invincible.

In his period of success, he rarely showed emotions and never gobbled the limelight. Even in the trying of situations he seemed unfazed, possibly disinterested and let the game go on till the climax, when he pulled back the game on the dice with threads invisible to the lesser mortals. He gambled with zeal and yet remained the unperturbed spectator. If he failed, he acknowledged his gambles and walked on, while the cricket pundits spent nights’ debating his shrewd tactics. He was the calm leader of a fearfully united battle clan. Both on the field and off it, he was politically and media correct. Behind the curtains, he showed glimpses of the great Clive Llyod with inferior artillery at hand. It seemed the bloom of Dhoni’s spring and his tryst with lady luck would last for long till came the gloom and despair of the English and Aussie summers.

The cracks in the clan surfaced. The very voices that anointed him the captain of a billion hopes, now questioned his authority of leading eleven people on field. His gambles were now whispered as the whims of fading captaincy. His “captain cool” image suddenly was seen as a timid submission of an ailing leader. His statements were no more digested as media correct but were dissected till it became fodder for his own grave. Overnight he was projected as a quitter of Test leadership, as if some Mayan calendar has prophesised the decimation of his Test career in 2013. Many in the team suddenly seemed too keen to shoulder the role of the Midas. Parallels were drawn with another Shakespearean hero of the nation, Saurav Ganguly. It seemed our World Cup victory had been decades ago.

Dhoni unlike Saurav had got a team forged with steel, an ideal balance of youth and experience, but maybe it was with that steel that forged the nail in his coffin. Saurav when captain had a daunting task of creating a team from a gang. He commanded respect, for his team members were his fellow mates (in age group and experience) or young guns brought to the arena by him. His aggression was uninhibited as he was as good a Test and ODI player as anyone else in the “men in blue”. The young respected him to the core as he was always behind them; the seniors avoided the finger pointing as he was one of their own and the BCCI muted discord as he was one of the big four with a terrific record backing him.

With Dhoni, superficially though the task seemed easier, but it brought the additional burden of handling the seniors. He was calm, his aggression subdued as he had to lead players whom he had adored and worshipped during all his formative years. He cannot force them to retire neither could he drop them from the squad. He was never the class act with the bat when compared to Saurav, particularly in Tests, and that made it difficult for him to contain even his comparatively successful mates in the team. When success soared him, the voices were bound to be a whisper, till it eluded him for the first time and the whisper turned into a chaos.

Dhoni’s success ratio in tests is directly proportional to the respect he commands as a batsman and captain in the dressing room in Test matches. For Dhoni, it is easier to rest himself in Test matches rather than asking Tendulkar, Dravid or non performing Laxman to rest for the match. His success in limited overs cricket proves the fact that, unless the reins of the horse is in your hands you cannot ride it. His man management, silent leadership skill was what steadied the Indian ship when there was none to look up to. His act of letting Ganguly captain the last few overs of his final test and let Tendulkar steal the limelight of the World Cup victory from him is a testament of the wise head over his shoulders. His “never say die” attitude and tremendous fitness levels, performing as a captain in all the formats of cricket and even mating success in a globalised IPL team proves his leadership skills beyond doubts as compared to his present day peers. Tough decisions have to be taken, for a religion like cricket cannot be maligned, but not at the cost of its preacher. India failed overseas as a team and crucifying Dhoni for it would be the easiest job. But then, has anyone proved their credentials (even in IPL) to deserve his role?

The history of larger than life captains in India has always been like the fable of Midas. Till they had the golden touch, they were hailed as the greatest, but one failed step of the team, they were thrown into oblivion. Team India needs Dhoni, atleast to tide over the generation of the greatest batsmen India has ever produced. We have seen the great Kapil Dev in tears in national television, shunned forever, after putting India in World cricket map. We have endured Saurav Ganguly fight for his existence and forced to bow out of the arena, where he created champions. We now see a faltering Dhoni amidst intense pressure justify his place in Test matches till 2013. Aren’t we Indians fed up of the old fable or do we need more Midas to keep constantly reminding us of the moral of the story forever?



mamta said...

You write awesome Basu.Very much true really and now YUVi's lines are coming in mind "JAB TAK BALLA CHAL RAHA HAI TAB TAK THATH HAI AUR JAB NAHI CHALA ...."

World is not much sentimental now specially in a business where players have been paid for the performance.

They way you put your thoughts in words is really awesome.

Saptadeep said...

Hey Mamta...U r always d one dat keeps the inspiration going. Thx 4 dat. Well I just feel shocked about how we forget things so easily....n today Dhoni feels d axe on his neck!!!

mamta said...

You deserve to be!

We do not forget ,we remind them again by doing same thing to another.See in this case we are trying to remind Dhoni now what we did with Saurabh!Is not it ?

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