MS Dhoni just announced his retirement from International Cricket. I know it was a long time coming, and no one is really surprised by this decision, but as a cricket fan, I will definitely miss seeing his reassuring presence behind the stumps every time the Indian Men’s National Team takes to the field henceforth.
I know, I know. He hasn’t played for the National Team since the ICC ODI Cricket World Cup 2019. But there was always the reassuring possibility of his availability should the team need him. But now that isn’t a possibility anymore.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni needs no introduction to a cricket fan, not even to a casual cricket fan and definitely not to an Indian cricket fan. I’ll not get into the details of his career, since everyone knows just how gifted a wicket-keeping batsman he is, and just how invaluable a player he was to the Indian team. “Captain Cool” as he’s often referred to by his fans, for his ability to remain composed under pressure, MS Dhoni has seen the team home in many matches, closing India’s innings with the bat effectively in the last crunch overs.
Behind the stumps, his quick reflexes in catching the ball, his ability to stump a batsman out, really out of no where, in split seconds, very often, the batsman having done absolutely nothing wrong was amazing to watch.
While Dhoni hasn’t been a part of the team for a while now, I genuinely feel that even at his worst, he was the best wicket-keeper Team India had. Even the best of the younger players cannot match his skills behind the stumps, nor his effectiveness with the bat, even when Dhoni is now 39+ years old, and not even close to his best form.
For me, who wasn’t even born at the time when India won the ICC Cricket World Cup in 1983, Dhoni leading the Men in Blue to their second ICC World Cup (ODI) win in 2011 was one of the best days of my life, and a memory that I cherish. A memory that will never grow old or fade away with time. The memory of parading the streets of Bangalore with my best friends and thousands of ecstatic cricket fans who were all out on the streets to celebrate the win is still fresh on my mind as if it happened only yesterday.
I know replacing Dhoni isn’t easy. In fact, it is impossible to replace him. But I do hope that Team India will find a good, steady, dependable wicket-keeping batsman to keep the team going. While I had a lot of hope for Rishabh Pant to do well, with him failing repeatedly despite numerous opportunities, I hope Team India will start giving other keepers a chance with the gloves.
I wish Dhoni didn’t have to go. I wish he could keep playing for India indefinitely. But that isn’t how life works. He’s decided to end this chapter of his playing career. I’ll keep cheering for him and wish him all the very best as he ventures into the next chapters of his life. I hope that he’ll continue to contribute to cricket and participate in developing grass root cricket in India. It is something I wish more retired Indian cricketers would consider doing.
Adieu MS Dhoni. Another one of my Indian Cricket Heros I have to bid farewell to.