This, that and the other. Mostly the other
MS Dhoni's posture was found to have straightened by more than 20 degrees after he was conferred with an honorary doctorate in Leicester recently, according to biomechanics specialists.
"If you compare the curvature of the cervical and thoracic areas of the spine and the musculature of the shoulder area now, to what it was soon after the last Test match he played in, you can easily see a marked difference," said Dr Tony Worsley, holding up some scans to a light and marking out the specific areas in question.
"It's remarkable. I've never seen anything like it," he added. "Well, not since we cleared Muralitharan's action over at the University of Western Australia last decade."
Dr Worsley said that the tests had also found that since the award ceremony at De Montfort University, the Indian captain had taken to standing with his feet wider by one whole foot, and his facial hair had grown by a full inch. "There is, in my estimation, a high possibility that he might be growing a goatee, now that he is so newly distinguished," said the knowledgeable scientist.
Eminent psychiatrist Seymour Glass explained that these are all signs that Dhoni is regaining some of the confidence he lost after suffering a miserable Test series as captain, batsman, and wicketkeeper. "The honorary doctorate couldn't have come at a better time for him, in my professional opinion," said Dr Glass. "It's been a big boost to his ego."
"No s**t," said a passing bystander. "How many years of college did you have to attend to come up with that?"
According to other reports, the Indian captain has also taken to wearing rimless bifocals around the dressing room, and lecturing the team with a pointer in hand from behind a lectern he demands be carried into team meetings. When asked to confirm the reports, a morose looking Duncan Fletcher sighed, shrugged, mumbled, "Look, just…" before sighing again through his nose and shuffling off, stony-faced.
Rahul Dravid, on the other hand, was more forthcoming about his captain's new avatar. "Yes, he brings the lectern into the dressing room now. It was funny at first. I mean, we all thought he was just kidding around. But when he insisted on calling Suresh Raina to 'the front of the classroom' and proceeded to give him a right royal caning in front of everyone for 'failing his last four tests', well, that's when we realised that he was actually serious about the whole thing."
"Did you know that he hasn't taken off the convocation gown since the ceremony? It's… kind of sad," said Dravid, looking away.
Meanwhile, Dominic Shellard, vice-chancellor of De Montfort University, said the decision to choose Dhoni for the honour was an easy one. "Of course, we stand to gain from this as much as Dhoni, if not more!" he giggled mischievously. "Tell me, who outside of Leicester would have heard of us before this? Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a bank in town I must laugh my way towards," he said, sashaying down the road as only a vice-chancellor can.
When finally approached for his comments, Dhoni scolded this reporter, and asked him to make an appointment "during office hours" if there was something that "needed to be discussed".
The next day, inside his hotel room, into which he had brought in a giant globe of the world and a bookshelf filled with the M-Z volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which he had found at a yard sale, Dhoni relaxed in a black leather seat and sharpened a pencil as he received us.
"What do you think?" he said, standing up suddenly and twirling to show off the orange gown he was still wearing. "Isn't it pretty? But I think I'm going to have to take it off eventually," he said, making an exaggerated sad face. "There's a Kawasaki Bajaj in my garage at home which doesn't have a cover; this should do nicely."
Um, can I ask if he was feeling up to the rest of the tour?
"You mean, 'May you ask if I was feeling up to the tour,'" he corrected. "Certainly you may. And in response to your question, yes, I am. Never felt better.
"Now if you'll excuse me, these pencils aren't going to sharpen themselves."
R Rajkumar hopes that writing about cricket helps justify his watching it as much as he does to the people in his life who wonder where the remote control's disappeared to. All quotes and "facts" in this article are made up, but you knew that already, didn't you?
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