The news that Mahendra Singh Dhoni will no longer play Test cricket will take time to sink in. The sudden and even brusque manner of this announcement through a press release from the cricket board, with a Test still left to be played of a four-match series in Australia, is perhaps not the best way for someone of the stature of Dhoni to quit the centre stage.
It is not that Dhoni was a great Test captain and Virat Kholi is not ready to step in, just that the timing of the whole thing suggests that something may have snapped somewhere forcing Dhoni to take this decision so abruptly. It is possible that the criticism of his lack of involvement with the longer format of the game and India’s continuing losses abroad finally had its affect on the man who many feel is steeled against pressure.
It is not my argument that Dhoni should not have been removed, or not have quit as captain. For the past couple of years, Dhoni has not been the best man to have led India in Tests, but somehow the manner in which it has happened does not seem right. Is this his own decision, an emotional reaction to goings on in Australia, or was the pressure put on him by the selectors too much for him to take?
These have not been the best of times for him even off the field. His close proximity to former board president N Srinivasan, allegations of conflict of interest and accusations of not giving a true picture of Chennai Super King’s ownership to the Mukal Mudgal Panel, have dented his image. Not doing well on the Test field, both as a captain and a player has not helped either, subjecting him to severe media scrutiny and criticism.
The man, who even by his own admission, has never felt very strongly for the longer format, was bound to decide one day that it is best to stick to the format he likes the best. The time to implement that decision would have been before this series began, when he missed the first Test due to an injury, giving Kohli the full feel of a demanding contest. And, if things were not working the way Dhoni may have planned, the perfect time to do so would have been after the series was over.
India may not miss Dhoni the Test captain, but Kohli, who has yet to recognise that the line separating brash arrogance and confidence is a thin one, will certainly miss Dhoni the player. That is why, Dhoni’s decision to quit Test cricket altogether may not be good news for the Indian team.Watch: How Dhoni performed as Indian Cricket team Captain?