What marked MS Dhoni out as a great leader was his loyalty, said former India coach Gary Kirsten. Kirsten related an incident from just before the 2011 World Cup when Dhoni had cancelled a team trip to a flight school because they said a day before the scheduled visit that the South Africans in the team’s coaching staff would not be allowed entry.
“One of the most impressive people I have met, he is a great leader of people, he’s got incredible presence as a leader, but the most important thing is that he is loyal,” Kirsten said about Dhoni on The RK Show on YouTube.
“I’ll never forget, just before the World Cup, we were invited in Bangalore to go to the flight school, to go and kind of have a look at that. Obviously, we had a couple of foreigners in our support staff, and we got word back on the morning before the whole team was meant to go – and everyone was looking forward to the event – that the three South Africans, which were myself, Paddy Upton and Eric Simmons, weren’t going to be allowed into the flight school because it was seen as a potential security risk,” he said.
“So MS cancelled the whole event. He just said, ‘These are my people. If they’re not allowed in, none of us are going’. And that was what he was about,” Kirsten said.
Kirsten said Dhoni had gained credibility with the senior players after winning the T20 World Cup, and that the team spirit in the dressing room allowed him to focus on building a ‘long-term partnership’ with the then-27-year-old captain.
“He was very loyal, to me, and I think he saw as well, there were times when we didn’t always win games and we’d have some tough times. We’d spend a lot of time, just one on one together, talking through, taking the team forward. I think we built a strong relationship in the three years we had together,” Kirsten added.
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