'I have in my lifetime met and seen great cricketers, people who had great cricketing skills. MS is an exception. He only thought of India and the team he played for.'
Former BCCI chief Narayanswami Srinivasan revealed how he exercised his authority as then Board president in 2011-12 to save Mahendra Singh Dhoni from being sacked as India captain after suffering a 0-4 Test series whitewash in Australia.
The national selection committee led by Mohinder Amarnath was keen on replacing Dhoni as the captain after India suffered 0-4 successive whitewashes in England and Australia in 2011-12.
But Srinivasan came to the selection meeting straight from a golf course and blocked the selectors' move to remove Dhoni as the skipper.
“This was 2011. India had won the World Cup. And (then) in Australia, we didn’t do well in the Tests. So, one of the selectors wanted to remove him (Dhoni) as the ODI captain. The point is, how do you remove him as the ODI captain? He had won the World Cup (just a few months ago). They (selectors) had not even thought of who would be his replacement. There was a discussion and then (before the formal meeting) I said there was no way in which he would not be a player," Srinivasan was quoted as saying by Indian Express, on Monday.
“In fact, it was a holiday. I was playing golf. I came back. Sanjay Jagdale was the (BCCI) secretary at that time and he said, ‘Sir, they (selectors) are refusing to choose the captain. They will take him (Dhoni) in the team’. I came and said MS Dhoni (would be the captain). I exercised all my authority as the (BCCI) president,” he added.
Infact, Amarnath, after he was sacked as the selector in 2012, had claimed that Dhoni doesn't deserve a place in the Test team.
"He doesn't deserve a place in the team. There are better keeper-batsmen in the country. They are not getting an opportunity because he is the captain," he had said.
Amarnath had also named Srinivasan as the person who overruled the "unanimous" decision to replace Singh Dhoni as captain after India's eight consecutive overseas Test defeats.
"It was a unanimous decision, all five selectors supported it. The Board President (Srinivasan) did not approve the unanimous decision to replace Mahendra Singh Dhoni," Amarnath told CNN-IBN in December 2012.
"Why do you need a selection committee there if one person needs to be at the helm of affairs. We should not be there. Who knows the constitution of BCCI? Is the current selection committee aware of it? I was not aware of the constitution of BCCI" he said.
Srinivasan, on his part, claimed that he didn’t see any logic in removing Dhoni from captaincy based on the team's results in Tests as he had led the team to the World Cup just a year back.
“See, there was apparently some prejudice somewhere, which reflected. He (Dhoni) has won the World Cup for you. After 1983, India won it again and you say, ‘I don’t want him to be the ODI captain’! Left to them (selectors), they might have (dropped him as a player). I don’t know. I think that was the most unfair (move) and I am glad that I stood my ground,” Srinivasan told Indian Express.
The former BCCI boss also paid tribute to Dhoni on his retirement from international cricket.
“Mahendra Singh Dhoni is an exceptional person, exceptional cricketer and a very, very fair person. I have had the privilege of knowing him, moving with him for over a decade. I have in my lifetime met and seen great cricketers, people who had great cricketing skills. MS is an exception. He only thought of India and the team he played for,” he said.