M. S. K. Prasad: It was Dhoni’s decision and a graceful one

The current selectors, with specific plans for the season, were exploring various possible combinations for all formats of the game and Dhoni was a part of the process.

K. Pichumani

The grace with which Dhoni took the decision is what M. S. K. Prasad (in pic) would like the world to understand.   -  K. Pichumani

To give up something you love can be excruciating. Retirement from a successful sporting vocation has always evoked varied responses. Some bow out with dignity. Some need to be pushed out.

In cricket, captaincy comes with lot of privilege. And responsibility. When to give up the role is a decision few have taken at a right time. M.S. Dhoni ranks among the top in this regard after he has made himself available for selection only as a player.

Was Dhoni compelled to take the painful decision to quit captaincy? The National selection committee chairman M.S.K. Prasad insisted it was his call. “It was Dhoni’s decision and quite a graceful one. It shows his responsibility towards Indian cricket,” he emphasised.

Prasad, like the previous selection committee chairman Sandeep Patil, was only following the long-standing tradition of engaging the senior players, including captain, in a stock-taking exercise.

Even Sachin Tendulkar was spoken to of his plans but the latter had refused to get into any discussions. It was eventually Tendulkar’s decision to announce his retirement and not one forced on him.

The current selectors, with specific plans for the season, were exploring various possible combinations for all formats of the game and Dhoni was a part of the process.

Dhoni, at 35, may not be the lone option for the wicketkeeper-batsman’s job. But then, he, in the opinion of the selectors, is the best current option with the accepted need to groom a successor — Rishabh Pant on current form and Ishan Kishan waiting to grab the spot at the first opportunity.

The National selection committee chairman clearly does not want the impression to gain momentum that Dhoni was eased out of the post. The grace with which Dhoni took the decision is what Prasad would like the world to understand.

To appoint or sack a captain is the sole prerogative of the selectors. It is a norm that the Board president formally endorses the selection but if need there be he can intervene in the process. There have been cases of the Board president forcing the National selectors to have a relook.

As Patil remembered, he and Sunil Gavaskar were dropped by the selectors for the series against Australia at home in 1986. “We were playing a match at Gwalior (Bombay vs Australians) when the news came first, but Sunil was reinstated following intervention by the Board president (S. Sriraman). However, I announced my retirement from international cricket after that match,” said Patil. In another instance, R.S. Dungarpur had sought the removal of a player from North Zone from the list.

The selectors have accepted Dhoni’s move to put himself in the pool purely as a player. The idea is to play on merit and, of course, with freedom to justify his presence.

Dhoni does not wish to be seen as hindrance to a deserving youngster. By giving up captaincy, he has only demonstrated his sense of commitment and timing.

> Read: Never asked Dhoni about his future plans: Prasad