The Telegraph
Thursday , February 28 , 2013
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Greg: For me, Dhoni is a special talent & a special human being

- Former India coach on the current captain
Greg Chappell during the Tiger Pataudi Memorial Lecture,
in the city, on Wednesday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: Former Australia captain and India coach Greg Chappell spoke to The Telegraph exclusively on Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the only India captain to have lifted two World trophies (World T20 and the 50-over World Cup).

The following are excerpts

First impressions of Dhoni...

That Dhoni had a method all his own... I first saw him during a conditioning camp in Bangalore at the start of my tenure and before our trip to Sri Lanka for a tri-series (July 2005)... At nets, I saw an awesome display of power-hitting, something I’d hardly seen before. I knew we had someone special... Later that year, we had another camp in Bangalore, on wickets which were slow and low... There, I also got to know that Dhoni read situations as well as anybody and wasn’t afraid to challenge himself. There’s nothing that he thinks is beyond his reach.Dhoni’s probably the most impressive young cricketer that I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

[When Chappell took over as India coach, Dhoni was not yet 24.]

Using Dhoni as a sounding board...

Indeed, yes... Dhoni would sum up situations perfectly... He wouldn’t say any more than what he needed to say. Very clear in the mind, Dhoni knew just what had to be done... A coach needs some help from the field and I used to turn to Dhoni... Being the ’keeper, he had the best seat.

A special Dhoni quality...

From my experience, I’d talk about qualities... Dhoni never shirked responsibility and would be the first to admit having made a mistake. Equally, if he thought he’d done well, he’d say so and accept the congratulations. For me, Dhoni is a special talent and a special human being.

The making of Dhoni, the cricketer...

Dhoni has worked the game out from having played in different conditions in Ranchi... He hasn’t become the cricketer he is by batting at nets, he’s become the cricketer he is by batting in competitive environments.

Seeing Dhoni as a future India captain from rather early in his tenure as coach...

Look, I always knew Dhoni would captain India... I felt that way because, among other things, he knew the dynamics of the dressing room and, as time has shown, he’s had this great ability to bridge the gap between seniors and juniors... That couldn’t have been easy, but he’s done it comfortably.

Dhoni having been at the receiving end after the loss to England in the Test series at home...

I think Dhoni would have expected it, but he couldn’t have enjoyed it... He didn’t run away and responded to all the criticism in the best way possible — with the 224 in Chennai, one of the most outrageous innings ever played in Test cricket.

His take on Dhoni as captain...

Well, Dhoni doesn’t have extreme emotions and is one of the most realistic people I’ve met. I’ve already told you he’s born to lead.

Captains having a shelf life...

They do... Besides fitness and form, the personality of the incumbent plays a definite role in determining the shelf life.

Some countries splitting the captaincy...

If you can have one person doing the job in all three formats, like Dhoni, then it’s fine... But there will come a time when Dhoni wouldn’t like to captain in Tests, ODIs and T20 Internationals... When that happens, appoint somebody as the ODI and T20 captain, grooming him for Test cricket.

Lastly, what would he tell Dhoni at this point in time...

(Smiles) Wouldn’t tell him much... Just say ‘well done’.