Kiran More, whose national selection committee first picked Dhoni for India in 2004, admits being pessimistic of the former Test captain's ability to lead the country in all formats of the game
Kiran More, whose national selection committee picked Mahendra Singh Dhoni for India in 2004, is not coy to admit that the retired Test skipper proved him wrong.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Inset: Kiran More.
“Frankly, I didn’t think Dhoni would cope with leading India in all three formats, but he proved me wrong. All I can say is that his career has been unbelievable,” More told mid-day in tribute to Dhoni, who decided to quit Test cricket after the third Test at Melbourne ended in a draw for Australia to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
More recalled how the committee (then led by Syed Kirmani) had watched Dhoni bat in the 2003-2004 domestic cricket season but had not seen him keep wicket. “North Zone and East Zone were playing the Duleep Trophy final at Mohali (March 2004). We requested our East Zone representative Pranab Roy to have Dhoni in the side as wicketkeeper instead of Deep Dasgupta, who mind you, had played for India.
It was not easy thing to do and all credit to Pranab for letting Dhoni keep wicket. We then picked him in the India ‘A’ team for a triangular series in Kenya where he scored two hundreds against Pakistan (in the space of three days). And of course, he impressed us in the 2004 Challenger Series in Mumbai as well,” recalled More.
“Being a wicketkeeper myself and having led Baroda in the Ranji Trophy, I knew exactly how captaincy would affect my wicketkeeping, so I had reason to be pessimistic when Dhoni was asked to lead in all formats.”
More credits Dhoni for having worked tirelessly on his wicketkeeping. “I was worried about his wicketkeeping but then I realised he had his own style and he worked hard to iron out the chinks. At times, we used to discuss wicketkeeping. His hand positioning ended up being superb,” said More.
According to the former chief selector, the panel in 2003 was looking for a wicketkeeper who could bat. Making Rahul Dravid keep wicket in one-day cricket after all, was not the most ideal thing to do. “We looked at other teams. Australia had Adam Gilchrist, South Africa had Mark Boucher and we wanted someone similar for India. We saw someone special, gave him a chance and he sealed his place. Dhoni was a smart cricketer from the start. He would read the game well and would sense an opportunity to thrive on quickly,” said More.
Back to the captaincy. “He had his own style and stuck to it. I don’t think he tried to copy the methods of other captains. He was calm himself and he spread that calmness in his team. And importantly, he trusted his forces. The facts are there for all to see… he led some of the biggest names in Indian cricket and he earned their respect. This is something very creditable. I use the word unbelievable again because that’s what Mahendra Singh Dhoni is,” concluded More.