A Mental Reason For Dhoni’s Success

Dhoni is the only cricket captain in the world who holds all 3 ICC trophies.

Some people attribute it to his ability to handle pressure, some to his decision-making, some to his reflexes, some to his teamwork skills, etc. Some people even attribute it to luck!

I think a big part of his success owes to his ability to make the right decisions. Because cricket is played by judgment. Just as football is played by power.

So, what can explain Dhoni’s superior judgment?

Well, it is his intuitive style of thinking.

“He is extremely intuitive and has always flummoxed rivals with his out of the ordinary field placements based purely on his gut feeling, his use of bowlers or his frequent changes in the batting order, which invariably turns matches in his team’s favor. This is because he reads the game very well.”


Note that one can form one’s judgments either by: Analysis, Instinct, or Intuition.

Instinct is driven by the heart. Yuvraj and Sehwag are instinctive players. Such players, despite their (perhaps superior!) talent, often get out due to wrong emotional judgment calls.

Analysis is driven by the head. Dravid and Gavaskar are good examples of analytical players. Such players seem right logically. But, one will never really get goosebumps seeing them bat. Such players earn more respect than love.

Intuition is driven by the gut. Sir Don Bradman, Sir Viv Richards, and Kohli are good examples here. Such players go on to earn both results and awe. Dear Sachin lies somewhere between being an instinctive and an intuitive player.

Note that intuition is also not mystical (as many Indian philosophers mistakenly believe). Rather, Intuition is:

… built on knowledge gained by careful observation of cricketing situations throughout one’s life. Which means you are never switched off or daydreaming, when you are in the cricket field or during practice or watching a game, you pay attention to everything. How the pitch is changing in the course of the game, body language of players, opponents and your teams strengths and weaknesses. All this data is stored in your brain supercomputer and when a particular situation arises and you are calm and mentally quiet, you receive the answer as an inspiration to the problem effortlessly. Doesn’t mean all solutions will work all the time, but this is how intuition comes in handy to Dhoni. (Source)

But, as Sunil Gavaskar had once commented, intuition only works well for a person who has a calm mind.

Ravi Shastri also thinks the same, and say this about Dhoni:

“His extraordinary calm attitude gives him immense mind space to use his conscious and sub–conscious mind effectively.”