Cricket without Tendulkar, Dravid, and Laxman? That’s sort of like being told the BCCI has its own little version of the Doomsday Clock and it’s being set to one minute to midnight. At least, in terms of test cricket.
Ever since Anil Kumble and subsequently, Sourav Ganguly have bowed out I’ve been hearing the unmistakable strains to ‘The Final Countdown’ playing in my head. And it’s just getting louder, folks. Kumble has left big shoes to fill and Harbhajan’s bowling hasn’t exactly inspired confidence. And what of Ganguly? Everyone was so sure that Yuvraj would be the natural successor to his spot, but now he’s not even in contention. What’s worse, it’s now like musical chairs between Raina and Pujara. Sure, Pujara is picked ahead of Raina today. In Durban. And against a superior South African bowling attack. But what happens when we’re back in India? Will the chair be pulled out from under Pujara and given back to Raina? Or somebody else altogether?
Okay, so you’re telling me there’ll be more chairs once the Big Three vacate. Except they’re not just chairs any longer. This is the ‘Little Master’, the ‘Wall’, and a ‘Very Very Special’ batsman we are talking about. Forget runs for a moment and just think: these are guys who have been bestowed with grandiose nicknames for crying out loud. Like they’re superheroes. Has the media even begun thinking up nicknames for the new generation? I don’t think so. Raina is one of the stars of our ODI team. He’s been given his test cap. But still no nickname? I googled this just to make sure and found he has a nickname allright and it’s ‘Sanu’. Sanu? Sanu? Somehow I don’t this is going to catch on in households across India. And that’s a sign. Maybe a frivolous sign, but a sign all the same that we, the Indian cricket fans, are totally unprepared for the eventual retirement of these biggies.
Plus, the fitness of the rest of the lot doesn’t exactly instill in me much confidence. I’m sure Gary Kirsten is feeling the pinch about this as well. It’s easy to mock a Dravid when he’s gotten himself carelessly run out, but the fact of the matter remains: this guy, at age 37 no less, is one of the fittest cricketers around. The current crop seem to be aging faster if you ask me. Dhoni has his back spasms. Yuvraj has his knee problems. The bowlers are constantly getting injured. How long will these guys last? People are ready to push Sachin, Dravid, and Laxman into retirement, but their longevity is something to admire. It takes a lot of willpower, fortitude, and stamina to last as long as they have…something the younger lot might have seemingly in abundance now, but what about a couple of years down the line?
The Doomsday Clock of Indian Cricket is ticking and someone needs to inform the BCCI there is no snooze button once it strikes midnight. Right now, if it were to read 11:56 (because the Big 3 have not yet retired), there is still a chance to turn the clock back and turn things around. But we need to wake up. And realize one thing above all: these three batsmen cannot be replaced and nor should it be attempted. No one can be another Sachin, Dravid, or Laxman. The Rainas and the Pujaras shouldn’t look to fill this void, but rather create a name for themselves on their own. And maybe their own flashy nicknames as well…