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Decoding MS Dhoni: Ravichandran Ashwin & Michael Hussey reveal CSK great’s ‘Retrospective Wisdom’

Decoding MS Dhoni: Ravichandran Ashwin & Michael Hussey reveal CSK great’s ‘Retrospective Wisdom’

This interview sheds light on the leadership qualities that made MS Dhoni such a successful captain. His unwavering trust in his players, ability to manage pressure, and unconventional yet insightful guidance transcended the traditional captaincy mold. While statistics can quantify his on-field achievements, it's these intangible qualities that truly define Dhoni's enduring legacy in the cricketing world.

MS Dhoni, the name synonymous with calmness under pressure and shrewd leadership, continues to inspire cricket fans even after his retirement. In this interview, former CSK teammates Ravichandran Ashwin and Michael Hussey share their experiences playing under Dhoni, revealing his unique captaincy style and his ability to guide players through tough times.

MS Dhoni vs Ricky Ponting: Leadership Styles Compared by Michael Hussey

When asked about their initial impressions of MS Dhoni’s leadership compared to Ricky Ponting’s, both Ravichandran Ashwin and Michael Hussey acknowledged their distinct approaches. Ponting, as Hussey described, led by example, setting high standards and fiercely backing his players.

Dhoni, on the other hand, stood out for his unconventional methods. Hussey highlighted Dhoni’s “ice and fire” persona – calm in demeanor yet possessing a strong vision for team success on Ashwin’s Youtube channel.

Michael Hussey while talking about Ricky Ponting and MS Dhoni said:

“They’re very different. I mean, but they’re both brilliant in their own ways. But I’d say Ricky Ponting, he is someone that is just… He leads by example. Like, if you do a training drill at practice, he will set the standard and you have to try and get up to that standard. He is such a competitive person. Even if you’re playing TT or, you know, I don’t know, marbles or something like that, he will want to win. You know, he’s just like so competitive. But the other thing about Ricky is that he backs you in 100%.

Like, even if you’re not going so well, or you’re just struggling for confidence a little bit, he will say to the selectors, I want this guy, I’ll back this guy.

“This guy will come good for me, you know. And knowing you’ve got the captain’s support really, I guess it make you feel 10 foot taller.”

“MS Dhoni, he’s just an amazing man. Like, obviously, we talk about his calmness all the time. The way he sees the game is a lot different to anyone I’ve probably ever seen before. He’s, yeah, just his perspective. And I just love the way… I think he’s got a great feel for what it takes to create a winning environment and to put a team together that will, in the long term, have success. Again, there’s that trust in the players.

You know, I think there’s so many examples of… We’ve hardly changed the team over the years. You know, there’s been that continuity. And he looks for good players to play that particular role, but he also looks for good people. And once he’s got those good people, he will really back them to the hilt. I think another good example is Shane Watson. You know, for us, he had a season where he could not score runs for the whole season.

“But Dhoni just said, no, we’re sticking with him. We’re sticking with him. He’ll come good. And sure enough, he came good when we made the playoffs. He made two big scores. And we fell one run short of winning the title that year. So he’s got an amazing perspective on the game. The way he treats people and the players is pretty special.”

“You know, you honestly feel… Again, you feel like you’re backed and you’re trusted and you’re loved very much. So, no, they’re both very special people. They do it in their own different way.”

Building a Winning Culture at CSK: Michael Hussey

A key theme discussed was MS Dhoni’s emphasis on trust and continuity. Hussey lauded Dhoni’s ability to create a winning environment by fostering long-term team stability. Unlike frequent team changes, Dhoni focused on finding the right players and individuals who embodied the CSK spirit.

This strategy is exemplified by Shane Watson’s story. Despite a poor run of form, Dhoni stuck by him, a decision that paid off in the playoffs.

MS Dhoni “Fair Play Award” Speech vs RCB

Michael Hussey recounted a captivating anecdote that perfectly encapsulates Dhoni’s ability to manage player stress. Before a crucial match against RCB, Dhoni surprised everyone by prioritizing the fair play award over winning. This seemingly bizarre tactic, Michael Hussey later realized, was a clever way to ease the pressure off young players, allowing them to perform freely.

Hussey fondly remembered:

“I think the other special thing about Dhoni is he’s got this amazing ability to take pressure off players, particularly young Indian players. I remember a speech he gave. You know how we come in before a big game in the huddle?”I think the other special thing about Dhoni is he’s got this amazing ability to take pressure off players, particularly young Indian players. I remember a speech he gave. You know how we come in before a big game in the huddle?”

“So we’re playing RCB at the Chepauk. The crowd is literally going nuts. Anyway, Chris Gayle is the big fish for RCB. We’re in this huddle as we’re about to walk out onto the field. “

“And MS, he just brings the team in and he says, “guys, it doesn’t matter if we win or lose today, but the fair play award is very important to me.”

“And I’m sitting there thinking, are you serious? We’re playing RCB at the Chepauk. It doesn’t matter if we win or lose, but the fair play award?!?!?! what are you talking about? He goes, yeah, like, if you might get, you might miss the ball and the umpire gives you that. Don’t argue with the umpire. Just put your bat on your arm and walk off. And if you’re bowling and you think you’ve got him out and you’re not kidding, don’t argue with the umpire. Just play the game and just let’s just enjoy. And what will be, will be. And I remember walking out into the game, thinking, what on earth is this guy talking about? This is a massive game. We’ve got to beat RCB. And it wasn’t until later that night where I got back to the hotel room and I thought, I know what he was doing. He was, I could, you could now see some of these young Indians, just the pressure and weight of expectation coming off them because it was such a massive game. He was trying to take pressure off them.”

“And he’s got these weird and wonderful ways of doing that. And it’s a great ability to be able to do that, especially in a place like India.”

Retrospective Wisdom of MS Dhoni ft R Ashwin

Another fascinating aspect of Dhoni’s leadership was his “retrospective wisdom,” as Ravichandran Ashwin put it. He shared an experience where Dhoni, after a period of poor bowling form and criticism, advised Ashwin to focus on accuracy rather than excessive variations. This seemingly simple observation, Ashwin admitted, took him two years to fully grasp, highlighting Dhoni’s ability to provide insightful feedback that resonated with players long after it was delivered.

Ravichandran Ashwin said: “You’re right. I would say this is a bit of retrospective wisdom. It’s happened to me so many times with him.”

“I was going through the space where I used to, I was getting hit, not getting enough wickets and a lot of experts, which just continue to go on my back all this while, about how much I try in my life. You know, like how much I try with the bowling. I do so many variations, so on and so forth. And there was a phase where I started just bowling off bricks and I found some success. And then there was a phase where I wasn’t getting enough wickets.”

“So he came up to me and he said, you know, your biggest strength is to bowl all the variation. You can bowl everything. I was like, yeah. And then he said, the only difference is, I was like, I just kept watching the gap between the hands. And I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah. I thought he was going to say something. He said, the variations are falling this much part and it must be this much in length.”

“Like, okay. So what he was actually trying to say is, still bowling the variation was fine, but I just needed to be within that space and not at this space. And it took me two years to understand that. That’s what he was referring to.”

“But as you bowl, as you become a better cricketer and as you realize all these things, it becomes a bit of a retrospective wisdom. It’s phenomenal how he can do this.”

More news about MS Dhoni:

MS Dhoni’s Legacy: Beyond Statistics

This interview sheds light on the leadership qualities that made MS Dhoni such a successful captain. His unwavering trust in his players, ability to manage pressure, and unconventional yet insightful guidance transcended the traditional captaincy mold. While statistics can quantify his on-field achievements, it’s these intangible qualities that truly define Dhoni’s enduring legacy in the cricketing world.

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