Is it time for Indian cricket legend and patriarch MS Dhoni to be given the Bharat Ratna? As Mahi turns 37, it is definitely something worth considering. At this stage probably nobody deserves it more than this man who has carried the hopes of the nation for quite a long time now.
But first of all, why do we play sports in the first place? Why are games like cricket played anyway? The primary reason is to win: V for victory. Everything else is secondary. And when it comes to victory, absolutely no Indian sportsperson comes close. The laundry list of things that Dhoni has won as a captain has become an absolute cliché and people have already got tired of listening to that.
Not only has he won everything in the book, he stands out even when you look at the larger picture spread over many years. For example did you know that from 1975-2018, India has won 4 ICC tournament finals? While Kapil Dev won it for us in 1983, the three other occasions have belonged to Dhoni.
In the pre-Dhoni era, even the No. 2 ICC ranking was a bridge too far, but Dhoni got us the No. 1 spot in all three formats of the game. There is nothing that beats seeing India at the top of the rankings and hearing the national anthem being played when the team wins. Nobody has facilitated that more times than Dhoni.
Sport is not about records, which in fact is the most boring aspect of the game. They are about victories, which Dhoni is the emperor of. They are all about fighting it out till the end and producing a victory at the very end when all seems lost. Dhoni’s right on the money there.
Sport is also about lifting and inspiring your team mates and always ensuring that they give the best for their country and never letting your country down. Dhoni by far has the best qualities that a sportsperson can hope to have. Even the Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger” suits him well.
In India the cow or the bull is the most revered animal. The Indian bull bears his burden stoically and is the most useful of all animals. Dhoni is also the ultimate stoic. At one stage Dhoni was captain cum attacking batsman cum wicket-keeper of the Test, ODI, T20 and IPL teams. Nobody in the history of cricket has had such a burden.
Nobody has slogged as much as him. Nobody has given India as many sporting victories as he has and yet he is continuously under fire. Fans threw stones at his house when we lost the 2007 ODI World Cup and despite winning us the T20 World Cup in the same year, there were two more stone-throwing scares at his house after that, one even in a match that we won!
There have been court cases against him for flippant reasons and he has also been abused regularly by ex-players like Yograj Singh. He keeps winning us matches, is one of the fastest wicket-keepers even at this age, is in prime form and even then people try to push him to retirement on a regular basis.
The Bharat Ratna is given “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order”. The service that Dhoni has given Team India is exceptional and of the highest order not just in India, but in the world. The performance that Dhoni has given as a captain cum wicket-keeper cum batsman is exceptional and of the highest order not just in India, but in the world.
Two World Cups. One ICC Champions Trophy. Two Asia Cups. Umpteen ODI tournaments. Umpteen bilateral series in all three formats. Three IPLs. Two T20 Champions Leagues. What else does one have to do to win a Bharat Ratna?
In summation, Dhoni is…
1. The all-time greatest international shorter formats captain in the world.
2. The greatest finisher of all time.
3. The man with the most last-ball victory shots ever.
4. India’s greatest wicket-keeper in all 3 formats.
5. India’s greatest Test captain. (Virat Kohli is breathing in on No. 2 and No. 5, but for the moment it’s Dhoni)
6. India’s greatest No. 7 Test batsman.
7. The greatest IPL captain ever.
Give Dhoni a Bharat Ratna. Now!
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here