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“He had a calmness and an inner strength which wasn’t something I had seen a lot of in other cricketers”
Former India coach Greg Chappell believes captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has become a lot more confident compared to when he first met him and has also become a fan favourite since he is a one-of-a-kind cricketer.
Chappell conceded that he always thought Dhoni was destined for greatness, ever since he made his ODI debut in 2004 and his Test debut the following year.
“His reading of the game was incredible,” Chappell told the Indian Express. “He had a calmness and an inner strength which wasn’t something I had seen a lot of in other cricketers.
“He was very confident. He wasn’t cocky but there wasn’t any false modesty either. If he thought he could do something, he would go ahead and say he could do it.
“Both in India and Australia you have a lot of players who are afraid to stand up because they feel they might be thought of as being ahead of themselves or setting themselves up for failure. He had no concerns about that. He was supremely confident in his own ability. He had some work to do with his wicketkeeping but you could see he had the basics. I saw him as far more than a one-day cricketer. I could see him as a Test cricketer. And I could certainly see him as a captain.”
Chappell added that Dhoni had become a successful leader since he was able to connect with both the senior and younger players in almost no time at all.
“His ability in the Indian dressing room to move between the seniors and the juniors was unique,” Chappell said. “There was nobody else I saw that could compare.
“Even some of the seniors struggled with other seniors. Not just physical strength but also an emotional strength … a spiritual strength. He knew who he was. He didn’t have any doubts about his ability to play at that level.”
The former Indian coach also recalled the “amazing story” of how Dhoni had learnt to play cricket.
“It was an amazing story of where he [Dhoni] had come from and how he had learned his cricket playing on the streets with his friends, and at each level how he had to prove himself again because each time he came in he was the new boy,” Chappell said. “He talked very well about how each of those steps had given him something. Some confidence, some experience, some knowledge.”
The 65-year-old noted that Dhoni’s confidence in his abilities and unique shot selection helped him triumph over all the adversaries he has faced in his career.
“This game is about dealing with failure,” Chappell said. “Bradman batted 80 times in Test cricket and he only got 29 hundreds. So he failed 51 times. The rest of us have had a huge struggle.
“It’s only those who accept that they are going to fail a lot and have a belief that their method will work, who will be able to keep at it. Dhoni’s method was and is unique. Not many people play like him, but he has immense confidence in it. And that’s all that really matters.”