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In 2014, MS Dhoni retired from Test cricket just like that. Seven years later, he retired from international cricket just like that as well. No frills, no show-offs, no farewell match. He just said, “From 1929 hrs consider me as retired.”

He has been the most successful Indian skipper, winning all the three major ICC titles – 2007 World T20, 2011 World Cup, and 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. But was he a really good captain or he just had a good team that helped him win three ICC titles?

Cricket is a team’s sport, and hence, all the XI players’ contribution is necessary to force a win. But it is also a sport where the captain is the centre of all action as he takes the decision to bat or bowl first on winning the toss, who will bat on which position and the bowling changes he makes depends on his judgement alone. So, depending on the captain’s decision, the team’s result matters.

Compared to other team’s sports such as football, a captain’s role is not that significant compared to a skipper’s role in cricket.

Hence, a captain’s skills, temperament, judgement, decision-making, and performance is directly proportional to a team’s success. Even with a slightly lesser-team, a captain can inspire his team to victory, with his smart moves, leadership, and the ability to lead from the front. Just like how Shane Warne inspired a young team in Rajasthan Royals to victory in IPL 2008.

Coming to Dhoni, he has had a great team at disposal in each and every tournament he won. He had champion batsmen in Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, and star bowlers in Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, and a competitive all-rounder in Yuvraj Singh who were all peaking at the right time during the 2011 World Cup.

Team India MS Dhoni
2007 T20 WC winners-India (Image Credits: CricketAddictor)

But in 2007, Dhoni was leading a bunch of youngsters in the World T20, and they were given no chance to move into the knockouts even, while star players such as Sachin and Rahul Dravid skipped the tournament. 

But Dhoni still inspired his young team to victory. Again, in 2013, he guided another young team to victory in the Champions trophy. 

In all his three winning titles, his captaincy’s skills were at his peak. From giving Yoginder Sharma the last over in 2007 World T20 to promoting himself to No 5 in 2011 World Cup final, and giving Rohit Sharma the opening slot in 2013 Champions Trophy – all his moves were defining ones that paved the way for championships.

Hence, the composition of the team is immaterial if a captain knows his job and knows how to lead, inspire, and motivate his team to give their best on the field. He also has to lead the team from the front, and Dhoni did so admirably in the 2011 World Cup final.

So, all the talk of him having a great team, rather than him being a good captain to be deserving of his success is all loose conversation made by people who don’t understand the ABCD of cricket. Otherwise, South Africa, who always had world-class players in the team in every generation, would have many captains winning major ICC titles.

Cover Credits: CricketCircle