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Tread carefully before stepping on Dhoni’s toes

Traditionalists may scoff at the present controversy, the sniffing noses may feel jealous of the reporter who got the news and the reader will want to know what the truth is, writes Pradeep Magazine.

cricket Updated: Nov 23, 2008 23:20 IST

Traditionalists may scoff at the present controversy, the sniffing noses may feel jealous of the reporter who got the news and the reader will want to know what the truth is. Whatever be the differing viewpoints on what transpired in last week's selection committee meeting, there is no shying away from the fact that by taking on the selector who "leaked" the news, MS Dhoni is confronting a whole range of issues head-on.

Disgusting and disrespectful are not the words captains use, especially in India, that too when they are directed at the men in authority. By expressing himself in these strong words, Dhoni has made it clear, that he "can't be trifled with".

That he is a man of strong beliefs and would stand up for them was never in doubt. That he is even willing to put his captaincy at stake, if not taken seriously in the selection committee meetings, just shows the man and his fibre.

In the press conference on Saturday, he did not deny — some would say did not even confirm — the news that he had gone to the extreme extent of threatening to quit if RP Singh was dropped from the team. But his vituperative railing against the selector who "leaked" this makes it clear that there is some truth in the news. His anger would also suggest that he realises the value of team spirit and does not want any player to feel unwanted. In short, like any leader who cares, he does not want to create the impression that he is playing favourites.

It is understandable that when a team of 15 has to be selected, there would be serious debate, even acrimonious at times, over a name. It has happened in the past and it will continue to happen. But it must be rare that a captain has threatened to quit if he does not get what he wants.

Some would wonder why a captain would want to take such a step, that too over a player who in any case does not have a great record and does not even always get to play in the final XI. This reasoning may have merit, but that is not the issue here.

The issue - and it has been debated endlessly before - is how much say a captain should have in team selection. Most of us would argue that he should have a decisive say, especially if it is a choice between two specific players. After all, it is the captain who knows the battle terrain the best and should be given the troops he trusts the most.

So, Dhoni, miffed at not been given the player he wants, had every right to raise objections and, if he felt so strongly about it, maybe even threaten to quit. These extreme on-the-spur reactions don't always mean that action would have matched intent, but this does show that Dhoni is his own man and this may just be the beginning of his turbulent relationship with the establishment.

The world does not like a "rebel" within its own set-up. Sourav Ganguly paid a price for his outspokenness.

Dhoni at the moment is India's favourite son and despite the warning bells, the establishment has no choice but to tread carefully before stepping on his toes.