M.S. Dhoni has the rare ability to treat Kipling's impostors, Triumph and Disaster, the same. He appears to do so, at any rate.
Despite suffering his seventh consecutive away defeat and failing again with the bat, the Indian captain was remarkably even-tempered. Lesser men would have grown defensive under pressure. But Dhoni took responsibility — “I am the leader of the side; I am the main culprit.”
However, it was his handling of the question of a transition, after repeated batting failures, that was most notable for its thoughtfulness and its balance. It might be construed in some quarters as ambivalence. But in such matters, you have to hasten slowly.
Asked if he had considered a phase-out of the senior batsmen, Dhoni said, “I have not sat and thought over it. It's something everybody needs to be a part of — the players and the BCCI. It will be a process rather than just an event. We will carefully decide what needs to be done in the best interests of the country.
“I think there is a bit more emphasis right now (from outside) about getting rid of the seniors, but as I said, it will be a very careful decision. Because of what they have done for the country and the amount of experience they can share with the youngsters.
“You can't have all the seniors missing out all of a sudden and all the juniors coming in. We will have to thoughtfully decide the best option. Give a bit of exposure to youngsters coming in, and at the same time have a fair mix of experienced guys and youngsters.
“Once they transfer that experience, the job of the youngsters will become slightly easy. You don't have to play 100 games to be experienced. If you share whatever questions you have with these experienced guys, it really helps you gain the knowledge faster.”
On being questioned if asking icons to leave demanded courage, he said, “It's not about courage. It's about taking the right decision. For example, people went after Virat (Kohli) to be dropped and he batted really well. You have to give that span of time. Especially when you know somebody is really talented, you have to give that extra time to that particular batsman to keep going on. That's how great cricketers are made.”
Dhoni suggested that the process of bringing in change would begin after the fourth Test. “Maybe the end of the series will be the right time. We also have to see what the seniors' thoughts are.”
On Laxman's possible retirement
Asked about reports from India, that quoted BCCI sources saying V.V.S. Laxman would retire after the end of the ongoing Test series, Dhoni replied, “As of now, there is nothing that I know of officially. I won't like to answer something where there is a big ‘if' and big ‘but'. I don't know where this came from. Unless Laxman tells me, I don't know whether it's happening or not happening. I really don't have to think about it.”
Dhoni admitted that he was worried about India's loss of form abroad, but there were moments of levity in the rather serious press-conference. On one occasion, he smiled and asked a journalist to simplify his question, for it contained the words “phlegmatic” and “rollicking”.
And when asked whether the team would switch off after the third Test, as they had after the second, he said, “Switching off hasn't helped. Maybe we will switch on and switch off more often.”
Go-karting then? “Maybe some other sport will help”.
Keywords: India's tour of Australia