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When Dhoni cancelled a team trip to a flight school because Kirsten wasn’t allowed entry

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Gary Kirsten, the former India coach, has cited an example of the fiercely loyal nature of MS Dhoni, recalling the time he cancelled a team trip to a flight school because the South African coaches in the team weren’t allowed to join.

Kirsten, speaking on The RK Show on YouTube, was speaking about how he and Dhoni built a successful captain-coach partnership. Kirsten was appointed India coach in late 2007, and he struck up a successful partnership with Dhoni, who had just led India to the inaugural World T20 title.

The duo led India to the top of the Test rankings and then helped India famously win the 2011 World Cup for the first time in 28 years. Looking back, Kirsten said the most important trait that made Dhoni one of India’s great captains was his loyalty.

“I’ve said on many occasions, he’s one of the most impressive people I’ve met,” said Kirsten. “He’s a great leader of people, he’s got incredible presence as a leader, but I think he’s loyal, and that’s the most important thing.

“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.”

Dhoni proceeded to cancel the trip for the whole team as a show of solidarity. “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.

“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.

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