Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s cricketing edifice is based on the unconventional. His batting style defies the accepted norm. He flirts with the technique and uses more muscle and power to rotate the bat and send the ball soaring across the field to achieve maximum results.
His skills behind the stumps, in comparison, may be sounder but he lets his unbridled imagination cut loose when leading the side. The logic of his many moves on the field is fudgy till the final result is achieved. When it works, he gets wholesome praise and when it fails he is pilloried. More often than not, he has succeeded, making him a highly successful gambler in a world dominated by cold ruthless logic, which operates on the assumption that if I can’t win, I won’t let you either.
What has lent mystique and aura to his personality is his humble, small-town background, which, if conventional wisdom is to be believed, should have hampered his growth while interacting with the city-bred, public school educated smart aleck. That he has not only thrived but even outwitted them, that too on his own terms, makes him stand out in a crowd of look-alikes, who clone each other so that they are not left behind.
Dhoni has also done something, which a celebrity of his standing is not supposed to do: Kept his thoughts to himself, remained a very private person and rarely allowed anyone a peep into his personal world. He has never opened out to journalists, leaving them to piece together his life story, based on second-hand information.
And now, by shutting out the media from his marriage, he has even more strongly conveyed to the outside world that he values his privacy and will protect it fiercely even if it means annoying those who are powerful and even believe he is their friend.
The mass media, especially the electronic media, feeds on voyeurism and to deprive them of that diet requires courage and conviction.
We live in a fiercely competitive world where the majority thrive on the principle of mutually beneficial give and take, that is, you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. Anyone daring to break that mould can only survive at his own peril.
Dhoni, purely on cricketing merits, has so far not only survived but even prospered. He is at the pinnacle of his powers and more people need him at the moment than he probably needs them. How the world treats him when age starts catching up with him and the slide begins is hard to guess.
As of now, Dhoni deserves admiration for hoodwinking the scrutiny of the “electronic eye” and not turning a private affair into a “tamasha”, a feat which we thought was almost impossible to achieve.