It started with Saurav Ganguly. Then, it was Rahul Dravid. They were followed by the ‘very very special’ Laxman. All of these gentlemen retired from the scenes of International cricket in succession. This was not mundane. This heralded the beginning of the end of an era. Some might even say that this was the golden era of Indian cricket. But, the worst was yet to come. The writing was there on the wall for everyone to see. But people chose to avoid it. They didn’t want to believe in the inevitable. However, validating the old saying “All good things must come to an end”, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar hung his boots from all forms of cricket in November, 2013. This was the final nail in the coffin.
They say history has a strange habit of repeating itself. Indian cricket found itself in a similar situation in the late eighties and early nineties. A volley of big names, the likes of Mr. Sunil Gavaskar, Mr G Viswanath, Mr Kapil Dev had called it quits. The future lay in the hands of young players like Muhammed Azzarudin, Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble. A little later young talents like Saurav and Rahul burst onto the international scene and took it by storm. In hindsight, it can probably be said that they did an excellent job in carrying forward the hopes and burden of the nation for two decades. Now again we find ourselves in a fix. Do we have players to fill this huge void?
It’s said Virat Kohli was playing a Ranji match for Delhi when he lost his father. He was still batting at stumps. After the day’s work, he returned to his home, completed his father’s rites and rituals, came back to the ground on the next day and scored a ton. Does it remind you of something? Sachin Tendulkar lost his father in the middle of the 1999 ICC World Cup. He flew back to India, spent some time with his family. But, not being able to shirk off from the nation’s expectations, he went back and the very next match he played, he hit a century. It would obviously be naïve to compare the little master with Virat, but the later’s mental strength is something which is deeply admired in Indian cricketing circles. Virat has been the fastest to reach 10 ODI centuries. If he continues with the kind of form and temperament he is showing at the present, he might just be the answer to our prayers.
Everytime Rohit Sharma got out to a silly stroke, cricket lovers from all around the world would probably be tearing their hair apart in angst and frustration. God was probably in a very good mood when he sent the likes of Brian Lara, V.V.S Laxman to our mother Earth. When these people unleash their silky stroke play you don’t look at the scores. Unlike the other two however Rohit took a long time in doing justice to his talent. 2013 was a game changer for him and being made the captain of the Mumbai Indians was probably the best thing that could have happened to him. Buoyed by a new sense of responsibility, he has been adding one feather after another to his cap both for his nation and club. Finally, he seems to exude a sense of responsibility and self belief which augments well for the cricket lovers of our country.
Cheteshwar Pujara has been a fine find too, giving solidarity to the upper middle order. He is the perfect foil for someone like Shikhar Dhawan, another exciting new prospect. All in all one can probably say that the hopes and aspirations of the infinite cricket fanatics of our country is in safe hands. The greats have moved on but so must the game It better be, because in India you can love cricket, you may even hate it but you will have to churn out a lot of effort to ignore cricket!