Dubai: The last time a cricketer’s retirement united India and the global cricketing fraternity in this manner was when Sachin Tendulkar walked out of Wankhede Stadium after his final Test match in 2013. The style of the announcement between the ‘Little Master’ and M.S.Dhoni may have been like chalk and cheese, but the impact had been the same.
The morning after Dhoni caught the world unawares by just announcing through an Instagram video that he is done with international cricket - tributes have not stopped flowing from people of various walks of life. Erstwhile teammates, cricketing legends, sports celebrities from other disciplines, politicians and Bollyood joined the chrous as calls grew for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to retire his No.7 shirt.
Adam Gilchrist, former Australian wicketkeeper-batsman with whom Dhoni’s style often drew comparisons, was effusive in his praise for the Indian captain. “Always a pleasure to play against you @mahi7781 You did it with style, flamboyance and above all else, calmness. Your own way. The Dhoni way. Congrats on all you achieved,” Gilchrist said in an Instagram post.
Former England captains-turned-TV pundits Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussain rated Dhoni as arguably the greatest white-ball skipper in the history of the game, a statement borne by the fact that he is the only skipper to have led his country to triumph in all three major ICC white ball tournaments: ICC 50-overs World Cup (2011), T20 World Cup (2007) and ICC Champions Trophy (2013).
“What an incredible international career. You could argue the greatest ever white ball captain & finisher,” tweeted Vaughan.
Hussain also praised Dhoni’s ability to finish a game in style, best illustrated in the final of the 2011 World Cup when Dhoni sealed India’s victory with a six.
“A great captain, probably the best white-ball captain there has ever been,” Hussain told Sky Sports. “And also a cool, calm customer under pressure; a great finisher of a game, the game wasn’t won until you got Dhoni out.”
Dhoni aggregated 17,000 international runs across formats and claimed more than 800 victims as wicketkeeper.
Spin great Shane Warne was another admirer of Dhoni’s unfussed brand of leadership. “He had a calmness about him that was fantastic and he always got the best out of his team...” Warne told Sky Sports.
“His players really respected him and responded to the way Dhoni wanted to play the game.”
Warne also extended a public invitation to Dhoni to play next year in ‘The Hundred,’ English cricket’s new short-form competition, where he has taken on the role as head coach for the London Spirit.
“I just wonder if I could get him down to the London Spirit next year for The Hundred,” Warne said.
“I might put out a call to see if he wants to play at Lord’s. I’ll find the money, MS!”