The former Australian left-handed batsman was a vital cog in the Chennai Super Kings wheel when they won the IPL title in 2010 and 2011. Back in the city for a commentary stint in the TNPL, Mr Cricket spoke about the parallels between Virat Kohli and Ricky Ponting’s captaincy, why Dhoni should retire on his own terms and why this is a fantastic chance for Australia to win a series in India. Excerpts:
Do you feel the pay dispute ahead of Australia’s subcontinent campaign will affect the team’s performance?
It wasn’t ideal and things shouldn’t have come this far. I know there were some players who got involved and voiced their opinions. However, the vast majority of the players were focused on training. Cricket Australia had its own agendas and the players had different ideas. So, it took a lot of time to get to a place where they were both happy. The players and administrators can now move on and concentrate on the game. With everyone in a happy space, the players would want to go and play.
Ever since Virat Kohli took over as captain the team has performed well. But do you think bigger challenges await him when India tours South Africa, England and Australia?
I have always enjoyed Kohli’s captaincy. He has got this great will to win and I can see parallels of Ricky Ponting’s captaincy in Kohli. Ponting was always hungry for success and would keep pushing his team. MS Dhoni was a wonderful captain and it was always going to be a challenge for Kohli to fill Dhoni’s big shoes. But the good thing about Virat is he didn’t want to follow Dhoni’s methods. He has been his own man and led the side in his own way. He has been true to his own personality. India have been through the period of transition. But now, the team is a settled unit. These are exciting times for Indian cricket. The players believe in their captain and everyone has the same approach. Obviously, there will be challenges along the way and not only the captain but the players will also be tested.
You have played a lot with Dhoni. Do you see him playing in the 2019 World Cup?
MS deserves to go out on his own terms. If he believes he can play the next World Cup, who is to doubt him? He is a very modest and honest man. If he thinks he cannot contribute to India’s cause in the World Cup, I don’t think he will be there. At 36, he is still one of the fittest players. He knows his game and he looks after his body well. So he knows when to call it quits.