There’s something about retirements of cricketers. People harp, harangue and pretty much harass cricketers at the twilight of their careers, dissecting every failure, looking for chinks in their armors. Eventually and inevitably they retire. Some manage to silence the crowd and carry on a few years more, retiring with glory. For some, the din never ceases and eventually consumes them. And then the world watches in disbelief and with lots of emotion as their favourite cricketer announces his tearful retirement, followed by reams after reams of why that player was great and how the game would miss him. It’s almost as if they had all this ready and wanted him to leave just so that they could publish it all. The focus then shifts to the next oldest cricketer. Rinse and repeat.
The last few days have seen the retirement of Ricky Ponting and everyone’s been falling over each other writing tributes. Somehow unlike other players like Dravid or Laxman, it was all about “what a fantastic cricketer and competitor he was”, “what a lovely pull shot he had”. The element of romance that you associate with sportsmen, the fondness with which you recall their playing days was clearly missing. Maybe there was nothing there with Ponting. He was just a cricketer who turned up, made a lot of runs and then went along. There were no definitive great innings that you’d single out. He scored at will almost everywhere and was part of the world dominating team of the late 90s and most of the 2000s. You score runs, win matches and do that day in and day out, maybe people don’t remember much. Whereas a Dravid 148 or 233 or a Laxman 281 goes well into the history books. Maybe it’s about the context. Maybe it’s the spirit. But more than anything, the thing missing was personality. Hard cricketer, great fighter. Come on! No one goes into the cricket field ready to roll over and expose their bellies!
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