During the last leg of our student lives, there is just one topic to discuss - ''Soon, it is going to be over". But it's only when you board the train/flight to your home with all your luggage packed & couriered, you realize - "Yes, it is actually over". And you realize the lull, get drowned in nostalgia, think about the unforgettables in past and try to move on.
With the breaking news flashing on my favourite news channels - Kumble ka aakhiri, karnama I switched on to the match just to find out that he actually declared his retirement. Fare enough!!! He had done his bit, body was giving up, not much to achieve, little time left and someone has to take the baton from here. Infact it was the first honourable and well deservedly celebrated retirement that I saw in my 19 years of cricket viewing. We all know how Kapil dragged his last days, Azhar's career was cut short by controversies, no one really bothered when Sidhu retired and rest who are worth mentioning, went out of dressing room un-noticed. Kumble was given the perfect guard of honour.
But with his retirement, the inevitable has started. We all have been talking for so long about how these Fab 5 will bow out. Today, it started. Its like you have been busy hunting for your soulmate and the process looks like fun. But as soon as you are committed, you realize the scare hiding inside you. Remember Akshay Khanna in Salam-e-Ishq or Rahul Bose in Pyar Ke Side Effects.
Now, we will no longer be seeing those "push back - push back - firey flippers" or "leg spin with hardly any turn still getting caugh & bowled" or "a fielder often diving over the ball" or "that disappointed yet aggressive face after every ball that does not take a wicket" or there could be so many....
Next would be dada in Nagpur and we no longer will see those lofted sixes over long on, those square cuts, those most determined batting efforts, those most uncomfortable sway-aways on short balls, those singles when an Andrew Symonds might have run three and so many....
For those who like test cricket, it will surely be different once these 4 apart from Kumble also go - Sachin, Dada, Dravid and Laxman.
If India did well, I logged on to Y! and chatted for hours with my friends on how Sachin clipped Brett Lee's bouncer over the slips or how Dravid was unfazed by Akhtar's pace or how Laxman flicked Warne against the spin or how Dada kept finding gaps on the offside or how Kumble's so very accurate. It went on and on for hours.
If India did not do well, I discussed with my friends on how Sachin never scores when he is most needed to or how Dravid's slow batting gifts away our chances or how Laxman is still surviving because of just one innings of 281 or how Dada finds his way into the side because of his political nexus or how Kumble is actually not a spinner and should have retired in 1996.
But I could not give up watching cricket even after the match fixing scandal in 1999 which is supposed to have turned away many a fans. One of the biggest reasons were these five. I had grown up with 2 of them Sachin amd Kumble, on of my heroes Azharuddin had suddenly taken the image of a villain and 3 others were taking shape.
Like you wont mind ditching your casual date on a trivial issue like you called her dad a fat-pig-who-eats-shit but you will go miles to placate your wife in case you called her dog, well a dog.
Yeah, the game will go on. India will win matches in future also and it will lose as well. But, there would be a difference. The difference between these 5 and the current generation is same as any genius who secures a rank in top 20 of IIT JEE and an average student like me - who gets passing marks if he studies else he comes back next year. The former will have absolutely no qualms about his achievements in life yet he would be so brillient. The later will go jump from the moon with even a little bit of success in life.
But for Dada (there are reasons for him being so controversial), all these four are almost perfect role models.
I cannot say the same about the current generation of players. If our test team doesn't do well in a few series', may be I will stop following test cricket. Mostly because, unlike earlier days, one - there is too much of cricket doze in so many different varieties and two - the real cricket (read test cricket) will not have guaranteed entertainment.
Certainly new heroes will emerge. Certainly new records will be formed by breaking older ones. Certainly the life will go on, may be in better way. But as of now, today was the beginning of end of the greatest era of Indian cricket.