Art is not limited, it has unbridled potential, and artists are forever agents of chaos. They march in, do what they believe in, allow the masses to be bathed in their uninhibited potential, and then step away – not fritter away from memory, but step away and stand at a distance from where they look back and witness the chaos. They have turned everything upside down and nothing normal is anything remotely normal. It’s when the agents are gone, when they fade away, that we miss the vacuum, for when normalcy returns, the chaos is missing, and once again, nothing is remotely normal.
Hence, now that MS Dhoni has decided to step away, can anything be the same again? His chaos is pure art – he will not step back, and look at it with a smirk and can think, “Wow, this is some achievement. People do not want routine back in their lives.”
So much has been said and written about the man, better people and more gifted pens have sung his praises, there isn’t anything left to say. The bloke with long unkempt locks stepped in without caring about the template, grabbed it, and tossed it away. And now that he has walked away, his set template has become the chaotic norm.
We are not even speaking about him smoking 148 against Pakistan when his career was on the line, or him slicing open Sri Lanka when he was hitting his stride. We are not talking about him being knocked out of the 2007 World Cup and then leading a bunch of gallant souls into the chaos of T20 and setting a trend. We are not talking about him asking the senior blokes to step away and allow the younger ones to revive the flagging standards of fielding. Not about the Test rankings, not about the World Cup, not about THAT six, not about Champions Trophy. What else can one add, it was his destiny, it was his madness, it was his method, it was, quite simply put, the new chaotic normal world of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
So, he sported different logos on his bat during the 2019 World Cup, did not charge a penny, but was just saying thank you. He faced flak for intent, faced flak for dragging on, faced flak for simply being there, and then saw an outpour of emotions when he fell short of this crease. Now, he will look back, with a grin, a smirk, at the entire campaign – heck, yes, this is some chaos. He created it, he controlled it, he was consumed by it.
Now that he has stepped away, we jog back to 2007. India vs Pakistan, final over, senior bowlers being lost, he tossed the ball to Joginder Sharma. Another young man finding his feet in international cricket. A bowl a wide, Dhoni runs up to him and says: "You have bowled so many overs in domestic cricket with so much dedication when no one is watching. Need not to worry, cricket won't let you down now.”
Remember, for people who have faith in the process often end up being the process. Dhoni, when captaining in overseas conditions, had his face covered with his gloves as his bowlers were being talked around kept saying that they were not following the process. When the chaos became all too frenetic, he stepped away. Away from the scene, away from the process, he was no longer the process.
For all the pragmatic statements, all the philosophical utterances, Dhoni remains an emotional person. He does not show them out in the open, but he knows the pulse. He has stepped away, records and numbers will sing plaudits, so words do not them justice. However, when it is Dhoni, nothing normal is anything remotely normal.
He might not offer comments on cricket in the near future, he might not participate in debates and shout over another person to get his point across, he might not even stray anywhere near this team he created. For he is too emotional to be drawn into the scene again and then walks away. So, go away MS, walk away, march away from us, away from this beautiful game, away from what you have created, away from the multiple dreams you have shown us. For one day when you sit and look at those camouflage gloves, it might all come back and like the maverick artist, allow yourself a smirk – for this is your chaos, this is your normal.
So long MS, so long!