“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
-- George Bernard Shaw
“Pshaw!” might say Mahendra Singh Dhoni in response. But if he doesn’t change the way he leads this Indian team, he won’t be the leading man for very long. Not that it would make much of a difference to him. At least, it seems that way. For, from the looks of it, Dhoni doesn’t care... enough about building a team that can win every game it plays. And that shouldn’t be considered good enough for this Indian team. Or India.
When Dhoni was made captain of the side, it was a settled one. The statesman-like Anil Kumble had stabilized it after the traumas inflicted on it during the Greg Chappell era. The boys were once again made to feel secure and, perhaps as a consequence, ready to succeed. More importantly, the senior members were doing well. This is no longer the case. The side Dhoni currently leads is one in transition. It is in a state of flux. It is in need of molding. To put it bluntly, some butt needs to be kicked. Not that it will be easy; nothing that’s worth doing ever is. Which is why Dhoni needs to change. He can no longer be the laidback captain he has shown himself to be. Times have changed. And so must he.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” said Mahatma Gandhi, arguably one of the greatest change agents in the history of humankind. The Indian team, under Dhoni, post the World Cup, has lapsed into old habits. Sourav Ganguly is right when he says, in not so many words, that they only look capable of winning at home. Dhoni, from the impression he conveys, is probably okay with this. He may not be, but it seems that way. (Unfortunately, in a spectacle sport like cricket in India, perception trumps over reality.)
Ganguly demonstrated - in no uncertain terms - to the world that Indians were no pushovers when playing outside their comfort zone. The cussed and, at times, ornery, Sunil Gavaskar taught India how not to lose. Kumble’s team was determined and strong-willed like its skipper. Dhoni’s India is beginning to resemble Azhar’s boys, i.e., lions at home and pushovers abroad. It’s no coincidence that Dhoni, like Azhar, comes across as a relaxed fellow. India cannot afford to regress into the 90’s.
If Dhoni is content with being top dog at home and a lap dog in foreign conditions, he will not go down as one of the great leaders in the history of Indian cricket. In fact, if he is content, he must go. India is its cricket team. The rise and rise of India as a force to reckon with on the world stage, in general, coincided with an upswing in the fortunes of the Indian cricket team. The Indian cricket team is at the crossroads now. So is the country. Neither can afford a leader who is reactive or, worse, slack.
“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart,” said Eleanor Roosevelt. Dhoni now needs to show some... no, lots of heart to go with that cool head he has so far relied on to lead the Indian team with. The same goes for whoever aspires to lead India.
The writer tweets @Armchairexpert. You can follow him if you’re into that sort of thing.