Ritesh K Srivastava
Although I am not an avid lover of cricket, and watch the sport only as a casual pastime (that’s because of our cricketers’ repeated failure at major tourneys), I am all praise for Indian skipper MS Dhoni for his significant achievements.
This cricketing heartthrob, who has successfully transformed himself into a powerful pillar of the team since he first played for the national side, is probably the next best thing to have happened after Sachin Tendulkar’s emergence on the scene.
With the prestigious Forbes magazine naming MSD as the highest earning cricketer of the year, the aggressive right-hand batsman/wicketkeeper seems to be reaping rich dividends of his dedication, hard work and persistent efforts towards making Team India as the number one team in the world.
According to Forbes’ estimates, Dhoni’s overall yearly income totalled around Rs 48 crores, which is far ahead of Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar’s total earnings of Rs 38 crores in the same year.
Out of Rs 48 crores, Mahi earned 38 crores through brand endorsements and modelling assignments.
He and Sachin were followed by team mates Yuvraj Singh and Rahul Dravid at the third and fourth spot respectively. Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly and Australian cricketer Ricky Ponting shared the sixth place.
England’s Andrew Flintoff, with an estimated earnings of USD 4 million, claimed the fifth spot.
According to the magazine, Yuvraj Singh earned USD 5.5 million while Dravid and Ganguly raked in USD 5 million and USD 3.5 million respectively. Ponting also earned USD 3.5 million.
Although, the credit for Team India’s stupendous rise in the past twelve months can’t just be attributed to Dhoni alone, as several other top-notch cricketers also contributed to their side’s victory, his role as the captain of the ship cannot be undervalued.
There is hardly any doubt that despite taking over the reins of the Indian cricket team at a young age, the 26-year-old Ranchi boy managed to strike an emotional chord with the team members.
Dhoni’s ability to steer Team India from crisis and unite the national side by managing a good rapport with experienced heavy weights like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, while earning the respect from new comers, has together translated into some fantastic results for his side.
Lady luck surely has smiled on this explosive cricketer ever since Rahul Dravid refused to lead the side to 2007 ICC World Twenty20, followed by master blaster Tendulkar`s refusal to take up the job.
MSD, who is probably one of the most powerful hitters of the ball, has since then led Team India to unparalleled heights in both the one-day version, as well as the extended version of the sport.
It is only because of Mahi’s leadership skills and motivation that Team India now has a powerful batting line up that extends to Harbhajan Singh at number nine.
It is not surprising that today the likes of Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan etc can still turn the tables in India’s favour even when the top order collapses. Even if the batting fails totally, one can expect the bowlers to do the bashing.
This match-winning combination of Team India is only because of Mahi, who has often saved India, sometimes through his offensive batting, and at times through his unflappable skipper tactics.
What brings more glory to the Indian skipper is his recent nomination for the prestigious ICC Cricketer of the Year award along with his team mates Gautam Gambhir and Harbhajan Singh.
The above mentioned trio, along with the evergreen VVS Laxman, also features amongst those nominated for ICC Test Player of the Year award.
Not surprisingly, Dhoni has been nominated for ICC ODI Player of the Year award as well. He will have to compete with dashing batting duo of Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag in this segment.
The Indian skipper also continues to top the ODI batsman chart with his deputy Yuvraj Singh occupying the second position in the latest ICC ODI Player Rankings released recently.
Apart from Dhoni and Yuvraj, Delhi’s Virender Sehwag, at the seventh spot, is the other Indian to feature in the top 10 batsmen list.
There is no doubt that the sport commands the best of money in the country and the fact that BCCI is donating money for the betterment of other sports is a good sign for the sporting spirit of the nation. It would be best if the effect trickled down to the grassroots levels, and becoming a sportsman, be it at any game, becomes a viable career option for the talented.
In the past two years under Dhoni’s captaincy, Team India has beaten formidable opponents including Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Dhoni’s captaincy also saw the coming up of some very envied individual records as the fastest one-day hundred by an Indian and six sixes in an over.
All this proves Dhoni’s potential and the years of cricket left in him, which will, God willing, make him the most important cricketer of his time in the long run. His dedication in pushing Team India to number one spot and his determined attempts to retain the numero uno position as world’s top order batsman is beyond doubt.
If Mahi continues to rivet his fans with his spectacular performance, his name will be etched in golden letters in the annals of cricket for eternity.