Why Dhoni quit Tests

M. S. Dhoni stepped away from the Test team to make Virat Kohli the frontrunner.-AP

At a Press Conference, Ravi Shastri has some important information. By N. Sudarshan.

Insufficiently articulated questions and irrelevant answers are commonplace in many a press conference. The diary has suffered too, trying to frame a question so that it covers all bases, for, cricket press conferences rarely allow for a follow up. One such encounter involving the diary’s friend on the eve of the third Test brings out the reason why M. S. Dhoni quit after the third Test in Australia. The diary doesn’t see much in it, but the day after it learns that the reply was the closest anybody had got to the truth. So it now chooses to inform the avid Sportstar reader of the same.

The question was on how the captaincy transition has been from Dhoni to Virat Kohli. Ravi Shastri’s reply goes thus: “I think that was one of the reasons why MS decided to quit. You know he realised that there are three formats of the game. It is becoming hard for him. But at the same time he knew there was someone ready. Now if you think back, you will know why he made that decision. It was a good decision because it was clear in everyone’s mind, across the media, that this is your future captain and let him captain in that last Test match in Australia so that all speculation goes to rest. Because India weren’t playing (a Test) for another six, seven months. You know the obvious choice was Virat but by announcing his retirement, he made it clear that I believe this guy is ready and he needs a run.”

No discount!

The merchandise shop at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) is a quaint little place. There would be no elbow room if more than 10 people crowd in. The diary, being skinny, fits in easily as it marches in with its friends in the media. It is mesmerised by the retail on offer — there were even BCCI ties there — and when reliably informed that the stuff out there was the cheapest one could get, it rolls up its sleeves.

This until Dhammika Prasad’s entry distracts it. The Sri Lanka paceman picks up a couple of T-shirts, and mutters, “even I have to buy stuff to take back home.” The shopping is wrapped up for Rs. 1000 and then he asks, “Can I get Rs. 250 discount?” To which the cashier curtly replies, “No discount. Fixed price!” In India, cricketers are a privileged lot. Not here! By the way, Prasad is the captain of the SSC cricket team. He is the son of the soil. Yet…

Chutneys to the rescue!

The diary is a militant vegetarian. It feels out of place whenever discussions to choose dinner places are on. Sri Lanka is best for its sea-food it seems. But it isn’t enthused. The Cinnamon Grand Hotel, where it has checked into, houses the restaurant The Lagoon which is raved about, even in Indian newspapers. It chooses not to read. “Didn’t you go to Ministry of Crab?” it is repeatedly asked by friends back home. It chooses not to hear.

Until finally the Old Dutch Hospital, where the latter is located, and the fact that it’s run by Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena prompts it to pay a visit. It picks a busy Friday night. “Sorry We Have a Full Ministry Today” reads the signage. It peeps into the menu card. “Chilli Crab, Garlic Crab, Curry Crab, Pepper Crab, Butter Crab,” it reads. The diary dreams of an appam suffused with condensed coconut milk, vegetarian thaali dosa (two plain and one masala dosa), steamed rice and curd. A dash to Chutneys, the wonderful south Indian restaurant at Cinnamon Grand, is quickly made.

Ground realities

After having mocked the rain-gods and the weathermen, the diary is finally forced to eat its words. Rain arrives with a vengeance on day one of the third Test and takes out 75 overs of play. The ground staff cover the entire ground in about 15 minutes. Headlines about how awesome they are springs up in the Indian media. “It’s like brushing teeth for them,” a fellow scribe describes. The diary though is still not convinced. This until Aubrey Kuruppu, a first-class cricketer turned journalist, punctures the theory. “These fellows are not good enough. You know Jayananda Warnaweera, the curator in Galle? He would have done it in five minutes. We could have had play.” The diary smiles and feels a tad vindicated.