Well this could feel like a continuation of the last blog post on Change and it might well be one, but its just seems that time of the year. New year's around the corner and things change.
This blog post is dedicated to the heroes of my generations childhood. The ones whom we pinned all our hopes on after coming back from a exam gone horribly wrong, after suffering mom's beating for being up to some mischief, fights with our siblings ; all things bad for a child- to sit in front of the tele and smile and cheer again. This post is dedicated to the Fab Five (not just 4)of Indian cricket. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, Rahul Sharad Dravid,Sourav Chandidas Ganguly, Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Lakshman and Anil Kumble.
We have grown up watching these amazing athletes play for the country in a sport that is a religion in India. Cricket is what football is to Brazil and Argentina. Half the office goes on sick leave, shops shut early,housewives forego their soaps for the day, buzzing streets have an eerie silence, fathers come home early, and it might not be far from the truth to say that even crime rates drop when India is playing cricket. Such is the euphoria,the ecstasy,the pain and sheer heartburn associated with the sport. Everyone over the age of 5 is commentator and an expert cricketer. He shouldn't have cut the ball like this but driven it like that, what was he thinking bowling a full toss?? I'm sure if the comments made by Indians while watching the game could be stored in a database, it would run into trillions of terabytes.
These 5 athletes have brought out the best and worst in all of us. We have celebrated their centuries and 5 wicket hauls as much as we have crucified them for their bad days. Lauded as Gods of something or something one day and effigies burnt the next. Still they have persevered. For the last nearly two decades or so they have come to become part of our families like siblings whom we love to hate and hate to hear any criticism from an outsider with equal fervour.
I'm sure plenty of sports writers and commentators will be saluting these cricketers and describing their achievements and records(for they can fill 5 books each) but for myself and my generation its near that time to bid adieu to Fab Five bunch. I'm sure they have plenty of cricket left in them as you don't lose your greatness even when your body is creaking and screaming for you to stop with such athletes. But its better to leave gracefully than to be kicked out in the ungracious fashion which international sport is used to.
Anil Kumble-619 Test wickets and 337 ODI wickets as he hangs up his boots. Finishing off as captain of the country and a near impossible to duplicate 10 wicket haul. You have won us many a match for us with your always criticized "non spinning" spin bowling.You have shown every kid who dreams of playing for their country what it means to be a gentleman of the sport. You have toiled harder and longer than humanly possible and played with a heart so large for the country that no one can touch you.
Sourav Ganguly-7,127 Test runs and 11,363 ODI runs and 132 combined wickets plays his last day of Test cricket tomorrow. The most successful test captain India ever saw, your aggression was a welcome change from the soft Indian sides of yore. Personally not my favorite but admittedly the sheer elegance of your off side shots a treat a to watch. You brought about a breath of much needed fresh air into the captaincy of India and as is usual had to suffer for it too. And you proved it with your comeback in the best way an cricketer can-with your bat doing the talking.The pride of Bengal,The Prince of Calcutta, the Maharaja of Indian cricket , We will miss you.
VVS Lakshman- Very Very Special Lakshman. This sobriquet defines you absolutely. The proof that laziness is grace in motion too. To watch you play effortlessly making it look so easy and turning fools of the ones who believe it to be too. Coming in whenever we are down in the dumps and given up all hope and coming on top with an innings which is never short of miraculous. You make us watch the game after all hope of victory is gone and an agonising defeat is staring at our face and turn the agony into pure ecstasy. And then you go on to do it again and again and again...
Rahul Dravid. The Wall. Test cricket batting defined. Did you follow the rulebook on cricket or did they MAKE the rulebook watching you play? The one whom the country depends on when we are out of home and out of sorts. You made sure repeatedly that India were not described as "Lions at home and kittens on international waters". You made us believe that we were safe as long as you stood your defiant ground. And we worshipped the ground you stood on.Every budding cricketer wants to play that cover drive down on his knees like you do and will always wish they could.
Sachin Tendulkar. God. That's what this man is to Indian cricket. Even mentioning that he might retire from cricket one day might bring millions of hate mails at my doorsteps. I can't write enough about a man who has inspired a billion people every game he has stepped out to play for the country. Undeniably the best cricketer the world has seen not just for his game but the sheer power of his mind to take on the hopes of a billion people day in and day out. There might(just might) have been better batsmen in the world but none of them had to go through the pressure outside the cricket field that you have gone through. From a tender age of 17 to an age where your kid knows why a country worships you, you have proved what it means to represent a country in international cricket. I'm sure a 100 books have been written on your past ,present and future and 100 more will be written. You are India's Pele,Maradona,Jordan,Schumacher, Tiger Woods all rolled into one. I know a country will cry the day you retire and wish time would turn back and give us our greatest sportsperson (not just athlete) ever back.
And time is fast approaching for the remaining three to bid their farewells from the game too. I'm sure the young guns will take over from your able hands the pride of donning India's colours on the modern day battlefields of international sport. But for my generation the chants will be heard by our children and grandchildren that they weren't as good or as great as you. Cricket is our religion and you,the Fab Five have been our Gods. We Thank you!