MS Dhoni praised Gautam Gambhir for the way he had batted in Mumbai and Kolkata © Getty Images
New Delhi/Nagpur: Dec 12, 2012
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Wednesday found himself at the centre of a controversy after the disclosure that the Cricket Board President N Srinivasan had overruled a unanimous decision of national selectors to sack him from captaincy.
All the five national selectors had decided to sack Dhoni in January this year, but BCCI President Srinivasan had intervened and disapproved the decision, according to one of the then selectors Mohinder Amarnath.
Dhoni, who is Nagpur for the fourth and final Test against England starting Thursday, did not appear to bothered by the controversy.
In India, “every Tom, Dick and Harry have an opinion about the game”, he said, adding, “when people appreciate me a lot, I don’t feel as if I am in seventh heaven. And It’s the same when people criticise me. We (Indians) have extreme opinions”.
“We praise and then start pulling the same individuals down. I would say it’s very important to be in the middle path because that’s how you will enjoy the sport,” he insisted.
Dhoni said that in the Indian cricket setup, everything was under the microscope and questions are asked for every decision you take.
“If you are part of the Indian cricket set up everything is under the microscope and everybody has an opinion. You can ask plenty of questions on why that guy was not picked and why this guy was not given the new ball. It’s a team sport. It’s getting very critical,” he said.
Dhoni continued to come under attack from former selector Amarnath, who said that the proposal to change the skipper after the disastrous tours of England and Australia was made in the larger interest of Indian cricket.
“It was an unanimous decision, all five selectors supported it. The Board President (Srinivasan) did not approve the unanimous decision to replace Mahendra Singh Dhoni,” Amarnath said.
“Why do you need a selection committee there if one person needs to be at the helm of affairs. We should not be there. Who knows the constitution of BCCI? Is the current selection committee aware of it? I was not aware of the constitution of BCCI,” Amarnath said.
“We are working on trust there and we are doing our job honestly. It was a unanimous decision of the selection committee to replace Dhoni with somebody after the disastrous series in Australia,” he added.
Amarnath, who played 69 Tests and 74 one-dayers for India, said the selection committee had picked 17 players for the CB series in Australia but had not named a captain.
“We selected the team for the triangular series, selected 17 players but we didn’t select the captain. The captain was selected by somebody else,” Amarnath, one of India’s heroes in the 1983 World Cup triumph, said.
Asked about the specific reasons behind Srinivasan’s non-approval, Amarnath answered, “When you respect a person, you don’t ask questions…but my question here is you have a selection committee those who think what is best for Indian cricket then why are they not given free hand?
Amarnath, however, did not comment on whether Dhoni’s association with Chennai Super Kings, which is owned by Srinivasan himself, had any bearing on the incident.
“The Chennai Super Kings does not come into this. This is between captain and Mr Srinivasan. I have nothing to say on that. I’m not in favour or against anything like that,” he said.
There was also one report that a miffed Dhoni was unhappy with Gautam Gambhir’s attitude and had lodged a complaint with the BCCI, though, at the press conference, he praised him.
According to a website, Dhoni felt that Gambhir puts his interest above team and had become too “self-centred” which was hurting the team.
However, at the press conference, Dhoni praised Gambhir for the way he had batted in Mumbai and Kolkata.
“The best thing about Gautam is his aggressive character. He has batted very well in the last two games. Being aggressive is not only about stepping out and hitting the ball but also about positively defending.”
Turning to the match, Dhoni said that the character of the team can be judged only during a tough situation.
“As a captain and an individual such a situation does not happen often. It was a similar situation against South Africa too (in 2008) when we played at home and were down in the series and the last game was at Kanpur (and won the match to draw the rubber).
“But such situations are very few. I won’t say it’s a very good situation to be in, but the true character of a person as well as the team comes out in tough situations. In a way it’s good we are in a situation like this. We have nowhere to go and have to do well in this game,” he remarked.
Dhoni, however, got support from former captain Sunil Gavaskar.
“There is no alternative to Dhoni. He and Virat Kohli have been tireless on the field. Virat has been exception and Dhoni has also been tireless. He hasn’t missed too many opportunities of catching and stumping,” Gavaskar said.