Indian cricketing legend MS Dhoni is not having the best of his time currently on field. IPL 2020 has been a disaster for him and his franchise. The formidable Chennai Super Kings became the first team to be eliminated from the tournament. Lack of form from the star players appeared to be the chief reason behind such a bad result. Despite this, talks have emerged about the future plan of Dhoni in context to BBL 10.
Under the leadership of Dhoni, CSK never failed to qualify into the playoffs earlier. However, 2020 has been a curse for the men in yellow. The season began with the withdrawal of its star batsman Suresh Raina for personal reasons. In addition, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh also decided not to play this season amidst the COVID-19 restrictions.
Despite starting with a convincing win, CSK faltered in maximum matches this season. With just 4 wins in 12 games, Dhoni’s team remained at the bottom of the points table for the majority of the season.
Form of batsman MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni himself seemed out of form the whole season as a batsman in IPL 2020. Apart from an unbeaten 36-ball-47 against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, Dhoni could not provide the depth that CSK badly needed in their out-of-form batting strength. It has been a below par season for Dhoni with just 199 runs at an average of 28.42. Above all, a strike rate of 118.45 added to the pain for the cricketer.
A long break of over an year ahead of IPL 2020 certainly made him look a little rusty. Dhoni did not play a single game after the cursed 2019 ICC World Cup semifinal before the IPL opener. COVID-19 outbreak and his subsequent retirement from the Indian cricket team has been the reason behind this.
However, it could turn out to be a great practice ahead of a new beginning for the star wicket-keeper batsman. Because, there has been a speculation of Dhoni earning a BBL contract soon.
Dhoni in BBL?
BBL, or the Big Bash League is the premier T20 competition of Australia. Starting in the year 2011, Cricket Australia is all set to host its 10th season this December. Till date, a BBL team could accommodate just two foreign cricketers per squad. This year, the organizing committee has decided to raise the cap to three instead.
As a result, the BBL franchises are looking to sign renowned T20 player from across the world. Grabbing Indian star T20 cricketers would be an icing on cake for them. Because, addition of a star Indian would strengthen an existing team to a great extent. As well, it would bring additional viewership, helping growth of brand value for the franchise and the tournament in whole.
In terms of popularity, BBL is a distant second to its Indian counterpart – IPL. No T20 league in the world produces a hype similar to the Indian Premier League. Hence, BBL would not want to miss this opportunity to integrate Indian viewership in high numbers.
As a retired cricketer, MS Dhoni could be the best bet for them.
BCCI’s stance to competing T20 league
BCCI has always taken a hostile stand to the other men’s T20 leagues around the world. In its defense, BCCI clarified its stance to maintain the exclusivity of its own league. IPL indeed was the first ever franchise T20 league in the world. Later, other leagues such as PSL, BBL, CPL, BPL formed as a replica of IPL itself. Hence, the Indian cricket board doesn’t want Indian cricketers to represent these, skipping out the domestic fixtures here.
So, it is really a tough job for an Indian cricketer to play any foreign T20 league. Even the mutual interest of the concerned cricketer and a foreign franchise is not enough. Firstly, the cricketer needs to retire from all kinds of domestic cricket competitions in India, including IPL. This implies that he is not anymore eligible for international selection as well. After that, he must secure a NOC (No Object Certificate) from BCCI to get clearance to play foreign T20 leagues.
Earlier, Yuvraj Singh went through the process to play Global T20 in Canada. Former Rajasthan Royals leg spinner Pravin Tambe represented the 2020 Caribbean Premier League champions Trinbago Knight Riders months ago. Manpreet Gony also featured in Global T20 Canada last year.
Interest of BBL franchises for Dhoni
The BBL franchises have already expressed their interest to rope in MS Dhoni for the upcoming season. Along with Dhoni, they claimed their eagerness for Yuvraj and Suresh Raina as well.
Earlier, Dhoni himself expressed his interest in BBL back in the year 2016. He stated that he would like to feature in this league post his retirement. The high quality of the tournament attracted him a lot. However, he added that it would depend on his fitness after retirement.
Given that Dhoni is still a delight with the glovework as seen in IPL 2020, he would still be a good pick for any BBL franchise. Moreover, he is currently involved in the game directly. The upcoming edition of BBL starts in less than two months. A gap of one month would be crucial for him to refreshen up. It would also help him not stay out of the game for a long time.
Probable teams for Dhoni
MS Dhoni has been a match-winner for any team. His merciless batting, sharp keeping and extraordinary leadership skills have brought countless success in international cricket. Dhoni has won the ICC World Cup, the ICC T20 World Cup, the ICC Champions Trophy, the Test Championship mace, 3 IPL titles and 2 CLT20 titles as captain. He would be an invaluable asset for any BBL side.
However, given the current combinations, reshamSpeaks has devised a handful of teams ideal for Dhoni. Brisbane Heat would definitely top this list, followed by a few more.
Brisbane have had quite a few poor seasons in the last few years. After winning the second edition, they have reached the semifinals only once. The team lacks an experienced wicket-keeper on board. In 7 seasons, its first choice keeper Jimmy Peirson collected 836 runs at an average as low as 19. He has affected just 33 dismissals in 52 appearances. No doubt, the Heat would like to see someone like MS Dhoni take the role over. In addition, it would be a great help for Pierson too. He may receive some valuable guidance from someone of Dhoni’s stature. Moreover, his experience might be the key factor behind the resurgence of the franchise.
Melbourne Renegades can be the other BBL team eager to have Dhoni included. In 31 BBL innings, its current keeper Sam Harper has scored 624 runs at an average of 21.52. Harper has 17 dismissals in his BBL career of 33 matches. Renegades had a season to forget last year, finishing at the bottom of the table. Inclusion of Dhoni might be real gamechanging for this franchise.
Other than these two, Dhoni can be the perfect choice for teams like Melbourne Stars or Hobart Hurricanes. These two franchises are yet to win a BBL title. The involvement and guidance of Dhoni might be a thing they would like to try on.
Intent of BCCI
The biggest dilemma in this issue would be the intent of the Indian cricket administration. Given its history, BCCI would definitely not like to lose someone like MS Dhoni from Indian cricket forever. Induction of Dhoni in BBL means an end to his magical and profitable IPL career as well. It would as well help the Australian board gain a suitable hike in popularity. The Indian viewership is a factor every cricket fraternity would like to attact for economic prosper.
Hence, it would be really difficult to see Dhoni turn this speculation into truth. If it happens, the fans of the Captain Cool would be the happiest of all. As per an earlier speculation, Dhoni was interested to feature in IPL 2021 for the Chennai Super Kings. However, the disappointing season this year might make him change his mindset.
He must go through the whole process as soon as possible to make himself eligible for BBL 10. Unlike Yuvraj who got the NOC from BCCI last year itself, it would be a matter to see if Dhoni or Raina might receive it soon or not.
The Indian cricket team is all set to tour Australia next month at the end of IPL. The Big Bash League this year will take place at the same time.
If the talks of Dhoni getting a BBL contract gets real at the end, it would be a delight for all his fans to see him in two back-to-back top tier T20 leagues following a tough, long break.
Cover Image Courtesy: MS Dhoni with President FINACT Amardeep Singh and His Excellency Somasundaram Skandakumar by Amardeep Singh, Wikimedia Commons is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 / Modified from Original
About The Author
Related Articles by this Author