India’s former World Cup winning coach and ex South African player Gary Kirsten feels that it can be a grave mistake for Indian cricket if wicketkeeper-batsman MS Dhoni is removed from ODI captaincy.
Asked about whether it's about time that Virat Kohli was handed over the top job in ODIs, Kirsten remained non-committal.
"You are not going to get an answer out of me. You replace MS Dhoni at your peril, because the one experience I have had is that all great leaders have great performances till the end of their careers," said Kirsten at a promotional event.
Kirsten said that if one is willing to let Dhoni go, one never knows if India misses out on some potential match-winning performances in 2019 World Cup in United Kingdom.
"So, if you (are) willing to let M S Dhoni go when there might potentially be a great World Cup performance left in him if he goes to the (2019) World Cup, which I am not sure if he is (taking part in) or not, you take the risk of doing that," the former South Africa cricketer said emphatically.
Terming Dhoni as a "great player", Kirsten slammed his critics, saying those doubting his ability are making a mistake. "I think that is the question I get asked the most every time I come to India. My answer hasn't changed in three years. That he (Dhoni) is definitely the best leader I have ever worked with. And his record for Indian cricket over the last nine-ten years speaks for itself," said the South African when asked about the debate surrounding Dhoni's future.
"There is no debating in my opinion that he is up there with India's greatest captains and certainly has produced the trophies for India in his time," added Kirsten who was India's coach when Dhoni and company lifted the World Cup in 2011.
According to the former South African batsman, Dhoni's record in limited overs cricket spoke for itself.
"You just have to look at his ODI batting record as well, As a finisher, it's unsurpassed in the world in terms of the position he bats in. So, if anyone is doubting his ability, I think they would be making a great mistake.
"He is a great player and all great players would continue to produce fantastic performances through their career. It's exciting to see him doing well and having success with the Indian team. I enjoyed working with him and it was a great experience for me," he added.
Kirsten spoke to media persons after overseeing a cricket camp organised by Saldhana International Academy at the Mumbai Police Gymkhana