Mahendra Singh Dhoni couldn't have chosen a worse time to follow the phrase 'Silence is Golden' to the letter. There's a scandal-tainted tsunami of large proportions that threatens to sweep away the foundations of Indian cricket, but the captain of the national cricket team instead of expressing his thoughts to disenchanted fans opts to follow the orders of the BCCI, or rather most likely that of Indian cricket board president N Srinivasan, not once but four times.
Dhoni, who is also captain of Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, one of the franchises in the centre of the controversy, skipped two media interactions before and after the final of the cash-rich Twenty20 league, and, steadfastly refused to answer questions on the spot-fixing and betting scandal at a press conference ahead of the Indian team's departure to England for the 2013 Champions Trophy. If anyone thought Dhoni would address the issue head on after reaching England, there was further cause for disappointment as he skirted the issue yet again and made the grand promise to reveal his views at the "right time".
The "right time" as Dhoni puts it is now, and if the Indian captain doesn't get that, he is obviously fooling himself and he made matters worse by making some ridiculous statements at a news conference in Birmingham that seem to indicate he is cut away from reality and the seriousness of the situation.
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Sample this: "It's not that the reputation (of Indian cricket) is gone. When the right time comes I'll answer (more thoroughly), but as of now I don't think we have lost reputation because whatever the set-up will be throughout the world or in any sport, still you'll have people who will be slightly mentally weak compared to some of the others."
Dhoni goes on to add, "I would love to elaborate but at the right time I'll do it. I just want to keep our side away from everything as of now."
Dhoni would have done himself a favour had he said nothing on the issue as he has been doing since the scandal broke. Instead, he went ahead and made the rather unbelievable statement of the controversy not denting the reputation of Indian cricket. Well, Dhoni, the fact of the matter is that this scandal has not only harmed Indian cricket's reputation, but also made it the laughing stock of the cricketing world, and for India's captain to feel otherwise is a smack in the face of fans in cricket-crazy India.
Dhoni has also said he wants to keep the team away from the scandal as India prepares for the Champions Trophy, but surely with skeletons tumbling out of the closet with each passing day and in this age of social media, it is unlikely that the Indian squad in England aren't aware of the developments back home. At least some of these cricketers would have and will discuss the situation with each other, so that excuse of Dhoni doesn't hold good either.
Back in 2000, when Indian cricket was in the middle of the match-fixing scandal, then India captain Sourav Ganguly addressed the issue head on ahead of the ICC Knockout tournament that year, and expressed his opinions in the direct manner that he would come to be associated with for the rest of his captaincy stint. Ganguly rallied his troops after admitting to the ills that dogged Indian cricket at the time. Dhoni should have emulated Ganguly despite the BCCI's gag order and said something that would have given hope to the Indian cricket fan that the captain of the reigning World champions is as concerned, embarrassed and hurt by the depth and potential ramifications of the scandal as they are.
Not to forget that Dhoni's franchise Chennai Super Kings is mired deep in the scandal as Gurunath Meiyappan, BCCI president N Srinivasan's son-in-law and an executive at the team, is alleged to have placed bets on IPL matches; and as CSK are owned by Srinivasan's India Cements, the ownership of the franchise itself has come under fresh scrutiny.
Dhoni could have opted not to answer (not that he would have been allowed to) these important questions had he only been Chennai Super Kings captain, but as captain of the India team, he is expected to address heads-on the issues that face Indian cricket in public and provide meaningful explanations when sought out on such matters. By choosing not to answer questions that concern the biggest scandal to have rocked Indian cricket in recent years, or sniggering and attempting to make light this sordid saga, Dhoni is doing disservice not only to his office but also to the fans and cricket itself.
Sachin Tendulkar on Friday finally broke his silence on the scandal as he expressed his "shock and disappointment" over the developments in the last two weeks. Isn't it surprising that it took Tendulkar all of two weeks to be shocked by the IPL scandal? BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale and treasurer Ajay Shirke resigned from their positions on Friday evening as the pressure piled on Srinivasan to step down from the post of board president in the aftermath of the scandal.
The million dollar question is if Dhoni at least now will break ranks with the bosses and state his opinion as well as take a stand on the scandal. And, if he doesn't, the least that Dhoni could do is avoid making comical statements like "It's not that the reputation (of Indian cricket) is gone."
Well, skipper, that reputation certainly is gone, and pretending otherwise isn't going to help anyone!