11/02/2015 8:05 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST

No Mr. Dhoni, Cricket Is Not More Important Than Your Daughter

STRDEL via Getty Images
Newly-weds Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Indian cricket team captain, and Sakshi greet fans from the balcony of a family home in Ranchi on JUly 7, 2010. Dhoni and Sakshi married in a hush-hush ceremony on July 4 at a farmhouse near Dehradun. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

Mahendra Singh Dhoni of Ranchi is the captain of India's cricket team in one-day internationals. That makes him a public figure. That also means he needs to be a role model for the millions of young people out there who follow cricket and who worship cricketers. The obligation to be a role model comes with a sportsperson's job.

A few days ago, his wife Sakshi gave birth to their first child, a daughter, whom they named Ziba. I can't imagine anything more important than a man being with his wife and newborn child, regardless of geography and circumstance. Family trumps everything else, every time. Or should.

But Mr. Dhoni said that he was focusing on the impending World Cup matches in Australia. On the day that he made the statement, Australia administered a severe thrashing to his Indian team in a "warm-up" match.

Public figures give up their right to privacy when they become public figures. More importantly, young leaders like Mr. Dhoni are role models to millions, whether they like it or not.

India, like many other countries, is woefully short of role models for the young. Its politicians are vain and vulgar; its movie stars lead lives of excess; its industrialists are noted for their self-indulgence; its public intellectuals mostly spew forth so much verbal flatulence that young people rightly crinkle their noses in disgust and disappointment.

So where are the role models? They are usually to be found in the great game of cricket, where ex-players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble and Sunil Gavaskar - all former captains - continue to be adored by the masses. These cricketers continue to distinguish themselves as much by their sports acumen and record as by the wholesome lives they lead.

It would have brought Mr. Dhoni great karma - and great applause - had he air-dashed from Australia to Delhi to see his baby daughter. He would have had at least a couple of days with his family before the important matches started in Australia. It would have set an example for men who, all too often, choose to prioritise profession over family.

Yes, of course, it was Mr. Dhoni's choice not to fly across to India to see his wife and first-born child. It was his choice to "focus" on World Cup matches before they even began.

I'm saying that he made a poor choice. Cricket over child? Come on...

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