Dhoni not worried about backlash

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MS Dhoni is not worried about a backlash from the South African public following the shortening of their tour by the BCCI. Picture: Michael Sherman

An undercurrent of discontent and disappointment may continue to underpin the controversially shortened tour of India to South Africa over the next month, but MS Dhoni, the captain of the visitors, yesterday afternoon came up with the perfect answer to the boardroom nonsense.

“I think we should arrange a match for the administrators and let them go at it,” said Dhoni, who was asked if he thought there might an edge during the two Tests and three one-dayers. “We are busy playing cricket and have nothing to do with it. The relationship between the Indian and South African players is very good. You know, the IPL, especially, has helped us a lot and, though we see a bit of chirping going around, that makes cricket very interesting. So far there has never been a single case where the guys have crossed the line and become too personal. That’s a good sign, which means we’ll have a good series.”

Last week, Anand Vasu, the managing editor of Wisden India, suggested there might be a backlash against the Indian players from spectators after the BCCI decided to cut their team’s tour of South Africa short.

For the first time since South Africa decided not to tour Australia over the summer, there will be no New Year’s Test at Newlands. The belief is that Cricket South Africa are being made to pay for their appointment of Haroon Lorgat as CEO, despite the BCCI’s apparent dislike of him. “… there is the serious risk that fans will take this out on the team that takes the field,” wrote Vasu.

Dhoni laughed when asked what he would do if someone threw something at the players on the field. He said he would “pick it up and give it back”, and then pointed to a rather large South African security gentleman standing at the back of the room.

“That’s all we can do. We have got the big guy … there he is. He’s our security. He will handle that. When we have come here and have played South Africa or Champions Trophy, the T20 World Cup or Champions League, we have got fantastic reception. I don’t think that will really change. I think it will be the same.”

The captain of India skirted around the issue of whether he thought the tour between two of the top nations in the world was too short, particularly with South African being the No1 Test team in the world. “It’s just a schedule; we need to respect it from here. What is really in our mind now is that we have two Test matches and three ODIs, and we have to make the most of it.”

There will be few regrets from India or the BCCI that they shoehorned Tests against the West Indies into their schedule in order to engineer an emotional home farewell to Sachin Tendulkar. There are few who would begrudge them that, but on December 18, on the first day of the first Test, there will be a new man batting at four for India. Dhoni joked shortly before leaving India, telling cricinfo.com: “If possible, we will omit the No4 position. One, two, three, five six, seven and then we’ll play till 12.” Coach Duncan Fletcher, admitted they had no idea what to expect without Tendulkar in the team.

“It’s difficult, from the point of view that the last Test we played he was with us,” said Fletcher.

“We’re only going to have that sort of feeling and emotions once when we go to the next Test match, because he hasn’t been in the one-day side for the last three years now. It’s a difficult one to answer until we play that first Test match, when he’s not at four, and we’ll be able to gauge how much we miss him.” - The Star

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