‘It’s fair enough till sledging stays on the field’

For someone making such a major decision in his career, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was remarkably composed and light-hearted in his last media conference in Test cricket.

Asked whether he was surprised when the Australians settled for a draw with four overs remaining, he quipped, “I was ready to play. I had played 14-15 overs and another four overs wouldn’t have made a difference. Maybe they (the Australians) were too tired to bowl four overs. That’s a very Aussie answer I have given!”

On the more serious issue of sledging that has marred this otherwise engaging series, Dhoni said, “A lot of what is spoken on the ground, I don’t really know. I just told my players not to abuse anyone. That is definitely unacceptable. I am behind the stumps so I don’t really know what’s happening between the runner and mid-off fielder.”

He added, “I always tell the umpire if there’s anything that is untoward please tell me and it will be handled appropriately. At the same time you don’t want players to be just standing there not speaking and just playing cricket. Overall I don’t know what has happened but both the sides have handled it quite well. Till it stays on the field it is fair enough.”

When queried on the Virat Kohli-Mitchell Johnson spat, and whether he had a chat with Australian captain Steven Smith on the issue, Dhoni said, “It is something that needs to be done from both sides and from an individual level also. Individually it can be handled and the players should be able to address it. Don’t cross the line, play it in good spirit, yes, you represent your country and it is important to play tough but it’s also important that one of the individuals will have to back off. If sledging goes on for five days there will be harsher words spoken.”

As he signed off with a smile, nobody would have thought that the match at the MCG would be Dhoni’s last Test.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 6:17:51 AM |

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