"MS Dhoni would've decided his retirement date a few years back itself", feels Anjum Chopra
- Former Indian women's cricket team captain Anjum Chopra gave her views about MS Dhoni's retirement.
- She also spoke about the COVID-19 situation, split captaincy in Indian cricket and more.
As the cricketing world battles an indefinite halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many players and fans have turned to their favourite memories of the sport to keep them going.
Sportskeeda took this opportunity to hang out with a cricketing great who is continuing to spread her insights through commentaary. Anjum Chopra, a art of Indian women's cricket folklore, has a sharp cricketing brain that helped India become a ruthless force in overseas conditions.
Her captaincy reign coincided with that of the equally fearless men's skipper Sourav Ganguly. That meant the future of Indian cricket rested in the safe hands of the two left-handers.
The former Indian women's team captain suffered heartbreaking losses in the semi-final and final in two consecutive World Cups. The defeats did more good than harm, as she played a handsome role in putting Indian women's team on the national as well as international maps.
Post her retirement, Chopra continues to stay in and around the sport through live commentary and expert analysis. In an exclusive chat, she shared her take on the current COVID-19 crisis affecting tournaments like the IPL and the T20 World Cup in Australia. Chopra also dealt with some burgeoning questions relating to the Indian men's cricket team, the conundrum around MS Dhoni and the pros and cons of 'split-captaincy' for the Indian team.
"No one has any idea about what the future holds as far as COVID-19 is concerned. A player always wants to play, that's what his or her job or passion is. That comes naturally to the player."
"But since we are fighting things that are in the dark, there is resistance from all quarters. No one can guarantee the safety of players if or when they step on to the field. Before being players, they are human beings and that brings in responsibility towards themselves and their families. Everyone is vulnerable, despite the position or post they hold. Therefore, we need to find the right balance."
With the IPL getting postponed indefinitely, Chopra talked about the possibilities the BCCI and the world governing body can consider if and when the COVID-19 situation gets better.
"I think the speculations are there because the T20 World Cup is in October- November and we are still six months away from it. So we are banking our hope that the WC will not be affected by COVID-19 crisis. But we can only plan for three or four months. It depends upon the lockdown period. Even if we have the IPL in September or October, we will still need people to travel."
The former India captain knows what it takes to lead the country and the kind of pressures one has to deal with. With India not winning an ICC event since the 2013 Champions trophy, the scrutiny is bound to be there on the current Indian captain.
However, MS Dhoni has somehow remained a key figure in the Indian cricketing ecosystem despite not playing since the infamous loss to New Zealand in the semifinal of the CWC 2019. She spoke about MS Dhoni's eventual retirement and what it means for the upcoming talents in the country.
"I think only MS Dhoni can answer the questions relating to his retirement. And I don't think anybody else should answer this question. All his fans throughout the world would want him to be back on the field, which they would've to have in IPL had the COVID-19 situation not come in the way."
"He would've had already given retirement a thought a couple of years back itself, I am sure of it. But as seen in the past as well, nobody wanted Sachin Tendulkar to retire as well. Do you think Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul would be complaining that MS Dhoni isn't available for selection? Nobody is complaining in the team because MS Dhoni is missing."
Chopra also gave her insights as well as the pros and cons of split captaincy for the Indian cricket team. Despite having a mixed outing at ICC events, Virat Kohli has continued to be the front-runner for the captaincy duties. However, the criticism of him going trophyless coinciding with Rohit Sharma's emergence as a genuine T20 leader in IPL has somehow created dark clouds over the entire situation.
"I am not for split captaincy. I have been in that position. If somebody is playing all formats and is leading from the front in one format, then why shouldn't he continue in other formats as well. A captain is not just a captain, he is a leader."
"Both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are outstanding players with their plus points. It's brilliant to see Sharma propel himself to a leader's role in IPL. But whether only IPL can be seen as the measuring parameter for becoming a national leader, that is for the selectors to decide. If Kohli has been handed the mantle to lead India after Dhoni, then he should be seen as that leader. If Kohli is unavailable, then surely Sharma can take over from him. Split captaincy only creates confusion in the team."