NEW DELHI: Standing in the first slip and observing Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s match-reading skills convinced Sachin Tendulkar that he was ready for India captaincy, something he told the BCCI when he was asked for his suggestion back in 2007.
Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid had decided to give juniors a chance in the inaugural ICC World T20 that year and BCCI had asked the maestro about who would be his choice for captaincy.
“I wouldn’t get into details how it happened but yes I did say when I was asked (by the senior BCCI people) as to what do I think,” Tendulkar recollected during an interview to PTI on the just-retired former India captain.
“I had mentioned that I won’t be going to SA as I was carrying a few injuries… But back then, I used to stand in the slip cordon and I used to interact with MS and understand what he was thinking, the field setting and I would discuss all those aspects.
“I observed his match reading and I came to a conclusion that he had a good cricketing brain so I suggested to the board that this is what I feel. MS should be the next one to take charge,” India’s greatest batsman recollected what transpired 13 summers back.
Tendulkar said he was impressed by Dhoni’s ability to convince anyone of his decisions.
“Whatever I was thinking and whatever he thought, we were more or less on the same page. If I have to convince you about something, I have to be on your page and that is exactly what happened with MS. We both were thinking alike and that’s why I suggested he should be the one.”
Dhoni’s promotion to Test captaincy in 2008 happened at a time when the Indian dressing room still had Tendulkar himself, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan as senior cricketers.
Asked how he rated Dhoni’s handling of senior players, Tendulkar said: “I can only speak for myself that I didn’t have any aspirations to become captain. I can tell you that I was not wanting to become captain and what I wanted was to go out and win every match for the team.
“For that whoever the captain was, I was going to give 100 percent all the time and whatever I feel are the right things to do, I was going to tell that person. Then the decision becomes captain’s but it becomes our duty to take the load off him.”
For Tendulkar, it was his duty to give multiple suggestions to Dhoni and let him enjoy the freedom of taking the final call.
“If each person contributes in different capacities, then there is less load on captain… That’s what good teams do. The mootidea is to help each other.”
So did he ever come to Tendulkar with what he expected of him? Tendulkar said that it was like a bridge. Both persons traverse
a distance and meet at a common point. “When MS became the Test captain in 2008, I had completed almost 19 years in international cricket. After having played that long, I also understood my responsibility.
“They looked up to me as an elder brother and it was my duty to guide them and tell them what I feel and also tell them equally.
It could not be one way traffic that I tell them and they listen to me.
“We should have kind of relationship that they should also be able to tell you what they feel and I believed in that.” World’s highest run-scorer in Tests and ODIs feels that one of Dhoni’s biggest contribution was to give confidence to the players he believed in. Rohit Sharma’s emergence as a world-class white-ball opener and Ravindra Jadeja’s elevation as the team’s premier all format all-rounder are a case in point.
“I think for any player to have the captain’s faith in your abilities makes a huge difference. It’s not just this generation but all generations, players have needed support.