Planning a fitting farewell for Mahendra Singh Dhoni has just got trickier. In not picking up a bat since Team India stumbled in the World Cup semi-final in July, Dhoni has placed neither selectors nor the BCCI in an embarrassing position. The wise men of cricket tasked with picking the team had no need to announce they were leaving Dhoni out of their plans and the BCCI could leave the former captain out of the annual central contracts list without kicking up a shindig.
The situation leaves Dhoni with the delicate task of formally announcing his retirement, which he will not do until he is convinced his ageing body will not let him give 100 per cent to Team India. The October-November T-20 world championship could well be his dream last hurrah.
Timing retirement from sport may be a personal decision, but it can assume a huge public dimension. Nobody can be perfect in this, not even Don Bradman whose well-planned farewell was ruined by tears in his eye that didn’t allow him to spot the Eric Hollies googly that bowled him when he was just four runs short of a magical Test average of 100.
Sunil Gavaskar’s stumps were brutally rearranged in his last innings for India, but he was a cricketer who may have called it a day when his skills were still intact. As a rule, great Indian cricketers, including Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar, tended to tarry before putting up their feet.
Dhoni has been an enigmatic character who called time on his Test career and his ODI captaincy in unusual ways, springing his announcements on unsuspecting teammates. He may already have decided there’s no motivation left in him for ODIs, but he indubitably deserves a grand farewell in keeping with his enormous contribution to Indian cricket. Let’s hope that such a farewell can be arranged in a T-20 series.