Mahendra Singh Dhoni was a leader in the truest sense. He not only marshalled his troops on the field, but off it too.
While he backed his players to the hilt as far as their performances were concerned, he also championed their causes privately with the authorities. Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Sanjay Patel revealed a couple of instances which showed Dhoni's magnanimous nature. (Related: MS Dhoni mum amid speculations of unrest in Indian dressing room)
Baroda-based Patel recalled an instance during last July's Lord's Test: "I went to witness the Lord's Test and spent some time with Dhoni. We discussed how the team was shaping and he opened up on one aspect. The Board was granting $100 as conveyance to team members in England. (Also read: Australian Prime Minister hosts Indian, Aussie players for tea)
"Dhoni stressed that $100, when converted to UK's currency, was working out to 50-60 pounds. He asked if something could be done about this as the money was not sufficient especially if the players' wives and kids were travelling with them.
"I immediately agreed to make it 100 pounds. I discussed this matter at the Working Committee meeting as well and the members wondered why didn't they think of this earlier," Patel revealed to mid-day on Tuesday after Dhoni decided to retire from Test cricket.
Patel narrated another incident where Dhoni played a major role in former India bowling coach Joe Dawes and former fielding coach Trevor Penney not being sacked by the BCCI. "When the Board decided to replace the (two members of the) support staff (Dawes and Penney last August), it was Dhoni who told me 'these are my boys. This is my team, my support staff and I will protect them'," recalled Patel.
Thereafter, BCCI decided to rope in Sanjay Bangar and R Sridhar as Team India's new support staff and gave Dawes and Penney the option of working at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. The duo, however, later opted to terminate their contracts which were valid till the 2015 World Cup.
Gem of a cricketer
"I have been in this post (as BCCI secretary) for the last 18 months, but I have never seen Dhoni ask for any favours for himself. He has always thought about his team. He is a gem of a cricketer - a very honest and wonderful human being," Patel concluded.