'Firmness in his tone stopped me from pushing it': Ravi Shastri recalls MS Dhoni's sudden decision to retire from Tests
- Ravi Shastri said MS Dhoni was only 10 Tests shy of playing a 100 Test and he was still one of the fittest cricketers going around.
Almost 7 years after the announcement, MS Dhoni’s decision to retire from Test cricket almost at the prime of his career, still continues to be one of the biggest mysteries of Indian cricket. Former India all-rounder and current India head coach Ravi Shastri said Dhoni’s decision to retire from the longest format midway through the Australia tour in 2014-15 didn’t make sense to him at that point of time.
Shastri said Dhoni was only 10 Tests shy of playing a 100 Test and he was still one of the fittest cricketers going around.
"MS was India's, in fact the world's, biggest player then with three ICC trophies under his belt, including two World Cups, and some very impressive silverware from the IPL. His form was good, and he was just 10 matches shy of completing 100 Tests," wrote Shastri in his book "Stargazing: The players in my life" which was released recently.
Dhoni announced his retirement from Test cricket after the Boxing Day Test in Australia in 2014 ended in a draw.
"One of India's greatest Test Captains under whose leadership India became the No. 1 team in the Test Rankings MS Dhoni, has decided to retire from Test Cricket citing the strain of playing all formats of Cricket," the BCCI had said in a statement.
"Still one of the top-three fittest players on the team, he would have the opportunity to boost his career stats if nothing else. True, he wasn't getting any younger, but he wasn't that old either! His decision just didn't make sense," Shastri wrote further of Dhoni's retirement plans.
Shastri also revealed that he had thought about speaking to Dhoni as he was the Team Director at that time but quickly dropped the idea once he found out the firmness in Dhoni’s tone.
"All cricketers say landmarks and milestones don't matter, but some do. I approached the issue in a roundabout way, probing for an opening to make him change his mind. But there was a firmness to MS's tone that stopped me from pushing the matter any further. Looking back, I think his decision was correct; also brave and selfless," Shastri wrote.
"Giving up on the most powerful position in cricket in the world, in a way, couldn't have been easy," he added.
Dhoni, one of India’s most successful captains, scored 4,876 runs at an average of 38.09 in his 90 Tests. He played 60 of those as captain. Under Dhoni’s captaincy, India attained the No.1 spot in ICC Test rankings for the first time in 2009.
Shastri heaped praise on Dhoni’s wicketkeeping, batting and captaincy.
"MS is an unorthodox cricketer. His technique, in front of and behind the stumps, is not easily replicable. My suggestion to youngsters is don't try imitating him unless it comes naturally. What made him so successful were his splendid hands. They were quicker than a pickpocket's!
"No other wicketkeeper, at least in the era MS has played, was that fast. He was the best in the world for a long while, and in white-ball cricket by a long distance," Shastri wrote further of Dhoni.
"MS was sharp in his observation of whatever was happening on the field, and uncanny when it came to taking decisions based on 'reading' the trend of play. This quality of his went unnoticed simply because he made such few mistakes. His success with the Decision Review System shows not just fine judgement, but also how well he would be positioned behind the stumps to make the call."