Opinion: MS Dhoni deserves a graceful exit from international Cricket
On the 30th of December 2014, shortly after the end of the Melbourne Test, when MS Dhoni announced his retirement from Test Cricket through a BCCI press release, it came as a shock to the entire cricketing world. There was still another match left in the series to be played at Sydney. But India had already lost the series 2-0 by that point of time.
What came as a shock to everybody was that he decided to not just quit captaincy, but hang up his boots from the format altogether. His record as a Test captain overseas had suffered a lot in the couple of years prior to the Australia series.
As a captain, he must have felt the moral responsibility for the under-performance of a young and talented team, where players like Kohli, Pujara and Rahane were beginning to fill the huge void created by the retirements of the likes of Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly and Sehwag.
But like many Indian captains before him, he could have given up his captaincy, and still continued to be in the team as a player. He was still the best wicket-keeper for India in Tests. Even in the Melbourne Test, he had performed admirably by effecting eight catches and a stumping.
He had also played a vital unbeaten innings on the last day of the Test to take India to safety. His spot in the team was never in doubt. He was also very close to playing 100 Test matches, a proud record for any player in the format.
But Dhoni is from that rare breed of selfless cricketers in Indian cricket, who has always put the interest of the team before any personal milestone.
There have been some (actually, quite a few) instances where the legends of Indian cricket, for all their greatness, could not time their retirement well. They dragged their career even after form and fitness had both deserted them.
Through his self-less act of retiring from Test cricket, Dhoni gave the new captain in the young Virat Kohli an opportunity to build his own team. Has a similar situation arrived for Dhoni in the limited over format of the game now?
With his own diminishing powers as a batsman, as was evidenced from the just concluded ICC World Cup, and the rise of the exciting new talent in the form of Rishabh Pant, there have been some suggestions of the former Indian captain handing over the ODI wicket-keeper baton to the young Delhi lad.
But knowing Dhoni and the way he puts the team and the greater good of Indian cricket before his own personal interest, it can be safely assumed that he would know when the time comes. One thing is fairly certain; he will not overstay his welcome.
But unlike what happened with Yuvraj Singh, when he was not given a farewell game, the Indian selectors must talk to Dhoni about their plans for him. The least they could do is to give India’s finest ODI captain a deserving farewell series!