Till last week Mahendra Singh Dhoni had been the happy, natural successor of Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble — not to mention Sourav Ganguly — as the Great Helmsman of the Indian cricket team. We were all singing hosannas about the smoothness of the transition and how Dhoni was the smorgasbord of all good things that the team needed in a skipper. Then on Friday, our faith in the old adage, ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same’, was restored when Dhoni reportedly threatened to quit (since then denied) over a leak to the media about a disagreement between him and the national selectors. The captain was upset (since then confirmed) that this spat had been made public, confirming rumours that an Indian captain is still not the man with ultimate powers of choosing his own men in his team. But we, noble commentators who go beyond media ethics, stuck to the original dilemma: is the Indian captain still fettered by the decision of a board of selectors?
If R.P. Singh is the man whom Dhoni wanted in the team against England in the one-dayer on Sunday, how legit was it for selectors to foist Irfan Pathan instead? The fact that the notion of the captain not being his own man doesn’t help Dhoni playing the role of captain to the hilt. But Dhoni’s point that what was discussed in the meeting “should have remained between eight people” is something that adds to his credibility.
It’s another matter that his team won the match against England on Sunday. Because if we had lost, we would have had the strange vision of watching Dhoni blame the selectors while the selectors would have blamed him. And by the way, Pathan’s tally on Sunday remained unchanged as he did not take to the field.