MS Dhoni was many things. An astute captain for club and country, a sensational limited-overs batsman and an extraordinary wicket-keeper.
Perhaps due to this illustrious list of achievements on field, an often overshadowed aspect of Dhoni’s personality is how witty he could be when talking to members of the press. Much like his now-iconic retirement post on Instagram, Dhoni was a man of often few but mostly meaningful words when he spoke.
As captain, we witnessed some of his finest quips, win a World Cup or lose Test matches in England and Australia, at the expense of his teammates or even self-deprecating. There really was no way to anticipate which version of Dhoni was talking, whether he was taking a swipe or simply being practical. But it made for excellent retellings, especially on social media. And that’s without even talking about his quips caught on the stump mic, which was a genre in itself.
Also Read: MS Dhoni finishes it off, in his own style
From his days as a young dasher to the dutiful captain, Dhoni’s verbal skills evolved a lot but the wit at the heart of it remained unchanged, whether in jest or as jibes. Due to the breakdown in relationship with the media in the latter part of his career, he could be short or even vague with his responses. But whenever he was in the mood, there were plenty of headline-worthy quotes from Dhoni’s mouth.
A younger Dhoni was far more free and frank in his interactions on the microphone, an older Dhoni was pointed and both often gave us gems to remember. The real value of these was just how he would convey in a one-liner and how he delivered it.
Here’s a list of memorable, but not exhaustive, list of the best MS Dhoni one-liners:
“To the fans’ disappointment, we are going to bowl first”
– After winning the toss in Sachin Tendulkar’s final Test, knowing full well what the public wanted.
“See you cannot fly a helicopter under the ocean or in a submarine. In the same way, you play the helicopter shot to a certain delivery. I can’t hit it off a bouncer. Maybe if I stand on a stool and go for it.”
– How he explained not hitting enough sixes
“I think I am blessed with a bit of good cricketing sense. I knew I could get 15 runs off the last over, I’m happy that it worked”
– From 2013, but it explains his finishing skills succinctly
“Virat used a knife. He stabbed Shikhar, who just recovered out of that then we pushed him to bat. These are all stories. Marvel, maybe Warner Bros or somebody should pick up this and make a nice a movie out of it.”
– How to address reports of a team rift, Dhoni style
“For this, file a PIL first, then I’ll answer,”
Back in 2016, when the questions about retirement were starting to increase daily
“You can question me, yes, but I am free to not answer,”
When Dhoni made it a habit of not answering questions he didn’t want to and was unapologetic about it
“I know that cooked and over-cooked is a very fine line between them – and especially if you do a barbecue you can understand that”
Weirdly, this one was a question about the Indian team’s form and preparation for the 2015 World Cup after a long Australia tour
The biggest learning during my tenure as a captain was, that a lot of time, I used to think that this is common sense. But no, there is nothing called common sense
– An important lesson, even if it is at the expense of his teammates
“He is still my first Test wicket”
– Once upon a time Kevin Pietersen tried to troll Dhoni via Manoj Tiwari on the player mic during an IPL game. He said he is a better golfer than Dhoni and the clapback was iconic, even KP had to laugh
“By losing the toss so often, I am not helping them out”
– One of several Dhoni witticisms on his unlucky spate of toss losses
“I was hoping it was an Indian guy, but you know I can’t really ask your brother or son who can play for India as a wicket-keeper”
– The infamous press conference when an Australian reporter asked him about retirement in 2016. Bonus: Dhoni asked if he would survive till 2019 World Cup and was answered in the affirmative. Prophetic.
I have three dogs at home. Even after losing a series or winning a series, they treat me the same way.
– The secret to staying cool?
If I am going to buy a life jacket which does not come with a warranty, that’s a bit of a hassle for me especially with the huge amount of money you have to spend for the DRS system coming into the game. I would prefer some kind of warranty behind it
The time Dhoni was not for DRS and used an interesting analogy to say why
It is not an easy game that we play, a lot of people wait with open swords and want you to make mistakes and have fun with it
– He knew his critics as well as he knew his players
– From the time when Sir Jadeja jokes were made as often as Rajini ones
“Just like wine”
– A cheesy take when someone tells you you’re aging well, but it was especially hilaarous when Dhoni said it
From Kishore Kumar, we have gone to Sean Paul.
– On adapting to the youngsters in the team
“You won’t see a Sreesanth batting like a Don Bradman just because he wants to bat like one.”
– That’s one way to explain India’s batting issues
“I read an article by you in Cricinfo. You’d said Australia were the favourites. Today I think me and the boys, we proved you wrong.”
– At the 2007 World T20, when the unabashed leader of a young brigade didn’t hesitate to call out even Ravi Shastri
“Please don’t change the name every two or three days... let the name (Deepika Padukone) be attached for a longer period if you have already decided”
– At a time when speculation about Dhoni’s love life was at an all-time high, he handled the intrusion with the same dry humour
I tell my wife she is only the third most important thing after my country and my parents, in that order.
“The point is that while I am an Indian cricketer I will devote myself to that cause. Cricket is not everything, not by any means, but it is a large part of who I am. Therefore I want to play in all formats of the game and to play as much as possible because before long it will be over. Then I’ll focus more on the Army!”
– On his love for India and plans after retirement. He already holds and rank and has trained with the Indian Army.
“I hope so! We are practising!!”
A bizarre way to answer a question about having children, right?
“That’s my retirement plan. The good thing is that I do collect a lot of stumps but the bad one is I don’t put a mark as to which match they were from. So, after I retire I’ll watch the videos of all my matches, look closely at the sponsors logos on the stumps and figure out which match a stump belongs to. It will be my post-cricket pass time!”
Finally, the time to finally put this hilarious plan in action