Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s calm demeanour on the cricket field is admired by fans around the world. It turns out even match officials are amazed by his composure, and at times, his sense of humour as well.
In an episode of the 22 Yarns podcast hosted by cricket broadcaster Gaurav Kapur, former ICC umpire Simon Taufel spoke about a time he was left impressed by Dhoni’s relaxed and humorous side.
Taufel remembered an incident during India’s Test tour of South Africa in 2010-’11 tour. The Australian umpire had a chat with Dhoni to discuss his team’s slow over-rates due to the excessive time taken by fast bowler S Sreesanth while completing his overs.
Taufel, who is regarded as the greatest modern day umpire having won the ICC annual award five straight times from 2004 to 2008, said that Dhoni’s response to that conversation blew him away.
“We’re just having an informal chat, and MS is looking at these black leather chairs in the umpires’ room, and he says, ‘these chairs are okay, they’re pretty good, and I was thinking, how can I get a couple of these, I wouldn’t mind buying some of these and taking them home’. I’m thinking, ‘I’m trying to have a serious discussion with you about over rates and you’re worried about these leather chairs.’
“And I said, ‘MS, you’ve now been done for over rates in Cape Town, and if you’ve got the same problems here in Durban, we’re talking about suspension territory.’ He’s almost rubbed his hands together, and [said], ‘suspension? I wouldn’t mind a game off, because I’m playing a lot of cricket at the moment’, and it just blew me away. I thought, this is something different that I haven’t seen before. But that’s the sense of humour and the relaxed nature of the character and you develop good relationships [with such people].”
Taufel said that Dhoni, Shane Warne and Darren Lehmann had the best cricketing brains he had ever come across in his career. He added that while Dhoni was always razor sharp on the field, he even had a refreshingly relaxed nature in general.
Quotes courtesy: ESPNcricinfo
Clarification: According to the ESPNCricinfo report, Taufel might have mixed up the venues in this conversation. The second Test in India’s 2010-’11 tour of South Africa was played in Durban and the third Test was in Cape Town.