It has been a circus, pretty much. Ganguly being left out of the Irani trophy, senior players who’ve given the team their all now all of a sudden being threatened about being phased out. My feelings were mixed. I knew they were not going to be around forever, but I wanted them to be there. Having burst into the scene and established themselves around the time I started following cricket seriously,(I loved the game before that, but wasn’t as passionate about it), their retirement is for me a way of saying am not getting any younger either. Its like its time for that generation of cricket fans to move over and the next one to take over and I don’t want to retire as a cricket fan yet!
I know how difficult it is to get attached to a generation of cricketers. It does not happen easily. It took my dad 15 years to find a cricketer to follow after Vishwanath(and invariably it was Dravid). You might say its a team game, but it is the players who attract you to the game, make you follow it, laugh and cry with every triumph or defeat, and its not easy to get attached to a player.
Just to mention some instances, after the generation of Sunil Gavaskar finished, it took 10 years to find the next good spinner. Only three players of that era (the 80s) managed to get close to or go over a 100 tests. Its not often that 5 players land at around the same time, and be fixtures in the team for more than 10 years and be a part of every victory the team achieves. To give you an idea, India has won more overseas tests since 2000 than before since getting test status(more than 60 years), which is saying something about the way they’ve contributed.
It is going to be difficult following test cricket after these 5 retire and am just hoping they delay it just the bit longer. I know its selfish of me, but maybe its just me clinging on to my youth and refusing to believe am going to touch 30 myself in just more than a year! Have never been much of a fan of the shorter format, can sit and watch, all attention, a batsman grinding down a potent attack on a bowler-friendly pitch with immaculate technique, but have found it taxing on my concentration watching someone blast sixes and fours off hapless bowlers on absolute flat pitches. But that’s just me. The next generation will probably work the other way around.
Anyway, came across this beautiful article on cricinfo by a sports journalist who manages to put in words thoughts and feelings of millions of cricket fans who’ve forgotten how the team looks like, and can’t imagine a team India, without Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly and VVS Laxman.
More than cricket they’ve been part of some of the best years of my life. The 3-0 whitewash of England, Sharjah 1998, Kolkata and Chennai 2001, England 2002, Australia 2003-04, Pakistan 2004, WI 2006, World Cup 2003, coincide with PU and CET 1998, engineering till 2002 and the first years of my professional life. They say music and smell hold memories. Well, great sporting events do too!