Jones sees Dhoni as a one of a kind cricketer
Former Australia batsman Dean Jones believes India will never again see a player quite like captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and added that he expects the wicketkeeper-batsman to retire as one of the top three Indian players in the history of the sport.
“If I asked you who were the top three Indian cricketers of all time, would you have M.S. Dhoni among them? Well, if you don’t, you will by the time he retires,” Jones wrote in his column for the Sydney Morning Herald. “The recent retirements of Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman have allowed Dhoni the opportunity to bat higher and show us all that his batting alone can match some of the greats. Sure he hasn’t made the runs yet, but after his epic 224 in Chennai, he has gained even more respect from the hardcore Indian fans.
“Dhoni is an enigmatic figure in Indian cricket. He doesn’t have the technique or grace of Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid, Sunil Gavaskar or Gundappa Viswanath. Nor does he possess the silky soft hands of Syed Kirmani behind the stumps.”
Jones noted that while Dhoni may never be classed as a textbook player, there was no denying that he always has an ace up his sleeve.
“Dhoni is one hell of a cricketer,” Jones said. “He has smashed all of the leading bowlers in one game or another. His fitness levels are amazing and running between the wickets is exhilarating. He is a rare breed of cricketer, a momentum-changer.
“When he starts swinging, he can change the course of the match. Then, in the blink of an eye, when all things are going his way, he backs off and plays the percentages again and shuts opposition teams out.
“Most batsmen can’t control themselves when the ‘beans are going’ and get out soon afterwards. Not Dhoni. He is a cool and unflappable cricketer,” he added. Jones said Dhoni more than makes up for his lack of technique, with his lion-hearted approach to the game.
“You see, it’s not whether you have all the shots, it’s knowing when to use them. It’s about having the courage to use the big shots when you’re under the pump.”
Dhoni has been under heavy criticism as of late, especially for India’s dismal away record, but Jones defended the Indian captain, stating that there is no better man to have leading the national team than Dhoni.
“Dhoni’s leadership doesn’t get the respect it should,” Jones added. “Many Indian fans just look at runs scored and wickets taken. ‘Mahi’, as he is affectionately called by teammates, has to deal with the expectations of more than a billion people and handles superstars, such as Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
“I get the sense that his teammates would die for him. He is no different to the man I first met in 1999. Very humble, very cool and very honest. Dhoni’s captaincy style is not rocket science. It’s basically based on how a python kills its prey. He waits for the opposition to make a mistake and then squeezes the living breath out of them.”
Jones continued to reiterate the point that he truly believes Dhoni will become one of the greatest players India have ever produced.
“If Dhoni keeps winning and playing as positively as he has done, don’t be surprised if he beats Sachin to the post,” Jones said. “I firmly believe Dhoni will end up as one of the top three Indian players of all time when he retires. As for the other two, that’s a discussion for another day.”