What have the recent Cricket World Cup matches taught us? That we as a cricketing nation are not invincible; that however good a batting line-up we may have, sometimes we don’t fire; that however strong we may be, there are competitors who on certain days are stronger than we are? More important than any of the above, I would say, are the values that our team and its leadership stand by. We as a nation (and the Indian cricketing community) are truly fortunate to have Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain and Ravi Shastri as director.
Dhoni, as most know, rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most admired men in cricket on the world stage. Known to many as “Kapitan Kool”, he has kept his nerve in the most difficult of situations to guide our team to victory. But it is not only in victory that he shows his true character. In defeat, he is gracious and acknowledges the opponents’ strengths.
However, it’s not just setting an example in the game that makes him a true leader. It’s his attitude and commitment off the field, too. Becoming a father is one of the most precious occasions for any man. But recently when his wife delivered a baby girl, Dhoni – instead of flying to India to be with her and his newborn daughter – made a sacrifice and, instead of being where his heart wanted to, remained in Australia with his team.
Matches in Australia and New Zealand were spread all over the countries, requiring teams to continuously fly to different cities to participate in matches. Most of the team was required to fly economy, but the captain is often given a business-class seat. However, Dhoni, wanting to ensure that some of our long-legged bowlers got enough leg room to stretch out, gave up his seat to his teammates, flying economy with the rest of the boys.
It’s been said that cricket is a gentleman’s game, and in yesteryears that was definitely true. However, many in the last few decades have brought the game into disrepute by both their actions and inactions. On the other hand, there are still many who believe that cricket is a sport where sportsmanship is paramount!
Let us hope that the current team who represent our country and the great crop of players on the sidelines truly learn from and emulate the many admirable qualities of leaders like Dhoni, and the many true gentlemen of cricket who will always be in our memories. A true winner is not necessarily the one who wins the game, but the one whose character and values win the hearts of those around them.
Asad K. Latif