Indian Test Cricket Captain – MS Dhoni - retired from Test Cricket; both as the Captain and a player. I had a spirited exchange with a young fan of Dhoni back home and I argued that Indian Captain, highly acclaimed player with most towering sports personality in a Billion Plus Country of India and Cricketing Global fraternity (with equally great pay check, probably in the vicinity of Peyton Manning’s), missed on Test Cricketing Culture in executing his departure from Test Cricket.
Test Cricket has been played over a century and is the most classic, longest and complete form of cricket game; all rich in tradition. At the heart of it is Civility, Sportsmanship and Team Spirit. As such, Captain of a Test Cricket Team occupies the special place and role in all that – all inspiring, leading from front and “captain leaves the sinking ship last” mentality. Generally retirements at such stratospheric level of Test Cricketing and profession are handled gracefully and methodically. This means that for MS Dhoni, despite howsoever disappointing the current Test Series has been going; he was required to declare that he would put down his Captaincy cap after completing the home away series in Australia. He owned at least that much to the game and rich heritage of Test Cricket.
But in MS Dhoni’s case it seems like his propensity towards a practical, non-emotional approach saw better of him and he simply cut the chord – instantly, in all too unfamiliar manners of Test Cricket. As I explained to the young fan in India, it is true that all Indian Test Team players are multi-millionaire adult athletes; but still it gives an impression that Dhoni abandoned them in the middle of action.
May be MS Dhoni never had much heart in the rich heritage and tradition of Test Cricket, neither much cared beyond a point what Test Cricket has bequeathed over a century to Billions of people of this globe. I am not saying this because I am sad for his departure. No, I am not his fan in Test Cricket and the decision for MS Dhoni to quit now is right. Test Cricket and One Day Cricket formats have developed so far at this point that to expect that one single player fulfills roles of captaincy in both formats as well as succeeds as a player is too much to ask for. That is injustice in a sense to the player as well as to the game. So yes, sooner or later India indeed needed to find appropriate players for captaincy roles in these two separate teams. It is just the jarring manner in which MS Dhoni pulled off that; otherwise one of the most respected, ethical and honorable players of the game.
The thing is it is not Test Cricket only which has tradition and respected players are expected to honor that seminal heritage. Here is the case where Jonathan Chait explains the meaning of losing of my home town Football Coach – Jim Harbaugh of 49ners - to Michigan University which has American Football history of more than century.
Sports is fun because we humans reconnect to ‘our ancestors’ in some unique fashion to establish continuity of present life with past and it is only human that the athletes we love and respect realize, preserve and nurture this emotive craving of we spectators.