This quote from the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, sums up what I believe to be the quintessence of M.S. Dhoni.
'Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.'
Here is a cricketer who has made himself the star of his own movie.
M.S. Dhoni makes no bones of the fact he has a strong penchant for knives, guns, motorbikes and fast cars. Think Bruce Willis in Die Hard, Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in Indian Cricket.
An all action hero who walks the talk in the incredibly pressurised cricket environment of India, who backs up the image with the substance of performance.
A match winner across all formats and a Captain who manages to be himself amongst all the hyperbole and hot air of Indian Cricket.
When we look at what diffentiates the most successful cricketers..... is it skill, fitness, mental game or cricket strategy ?
All of these and yet none of them on their own is enough to take a player with talent to the top.
Dhoni's success is created from an attitude of mind.
In reading these pages of the great players you will begin to see common themes amongst them all.
I shan't do your thinking for you though, as a good coach I shall leave it up to you to engage your own brain and let you identify the common themes that are so critical in shaping the attitudes of these players.
If nature provides the building blocks of the cricketer, then nurture does the building, the shaping of the future player.
Nurture is our parents and significant others, our teachers and coaches, it is also where we grow up, shaped by the environment and the attitudes of the people of the region.
M.S Dhoni, like many other cricketers who have made it to the top of the game the hard way, through the ranks and cricket system, is an independent man.
A man who knows his own mind, pokes gentle fun at the media, speaks good sense.
M.S Dhoni's Background
M.S. Dhoni was born and raised in one of India's poorest regions, Bihar in Eastern India, it now falls under Jharkhand.
It is economically, socially and politically disadvantaged, the majority of the population are under 25 and live in villages, and yet we have seen with other great cricketers, they come from remote areas and because of this learn to use their own resources.
Bihar was a center of culture, power and learning in ancient India. It was also the center for India's first great empire, the Mauryan empire, it was also the birth place of one of the worlds great faiths, Buddhism.
The Emperor of Maurya, Ashoka, born in Patliputra ( Patna ) is seen in India as one of its greatest rulers.
Co-incidence that the Captain who has taken India to the top of the ICC Test rankings for the first time in its history should be from the birth place of the great Ashoka, who found wisdom on the Buddhist path ?
Seize The Day
So from here, in a region in modern times that has struggled to catch up with the rest of India's economic growth, comes Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a captain of considerable presence and charisma.
(As synchronicity would have it, at the very time I am writing this piece, Dhoni has met the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala and proceeded to blast Chennai Super Kings into the semi finals of the third IPL. An innings of Dhoniesque proportions, a 29 ball 54, including five fours and 2 sixes.)
A swashbuckling batsman and acrobatic keeper, flowing jet black hair has added to the charismatic image, a batsman who made his reputuation tearing bowling attacks apart.
M.S. Dhoni originally worked his way through the Indian Junior and A' teams and forced his way into the Indian ODI side through volume of runs.
He didn't disappoint, seizing the day with a swashbuckling 148 in his fifth ODI versus Pakistan and then following that up with a staggering 183 against Sri Lanka.
Dhoni's Test career wasn't left shrinking in the shade either, scoring 148 against Pakistan in Faisalabad.
Mental and Technical Game
Dhoni has a great flexibility in his mental game, a player who originally set his strategy in all forms on pure attack, it seemed at first as if he had modelled his game on Virender Sehwag, that bowler's nightmare.
As he has grown into his role of Keeper/Batter/Captain he has adapted his game as the Indian side has changed.
Injuries to key players has required Dhoni at different times to temper his game to the team's needs, the maturing batter shifts gears at will now.
He has adapted his game to all formats, still intent on attack, but with the match awareness to rotate strike and developing his role as a 'closer' in the shorter formats.
The closer is the batter who makes sure he is there at the end, to close the game out.
M.S. Dhoni is one of those players who is energised by the challenge of high pressure cricket, not only is he innately calm under pressure, but he communicates confidence to his players regardless of the match situation.
Technically he has good range on front and back foot, he plays the spinners well, see his use of feet in coming down the track to the spinners in the IPL highlights in this article.
His record in the subcontinent is better than it is abroad, this will be a challenge for him as he moves forward, becoming a match winner in conditions where the ball bounces and moves more, yet his record in all forms of the game is excellent.
A batter with a strong, simple set up in the crease, there is not a lot of foot movement to the quicker bowlers, more a reliance on good position and the ability to judge line and length very quickly.
He has a superb bat swing, with a lovely, simple, tap and release technique, his rhythm set by this, he moves into a classic swing allowing him to generate great power.
From the region that gave India the great leader Ashoka, has emerged a Captain who has grown into one of its most formidable cricket leaders.
A strong relationship with Coach Gary Kirsten has enabled M.S.Dhoni to bring the best out of crickets emerging super power.
A side now confident and sure of itself, a reflection of its Captain.
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A favourite innings, a great match winning catch, a memorable hundred, share it!
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