Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Off goes the Prince :(

And so, it's over. Ganguly's gone. I've been an avid cricket watcher ever since I could say Sachin Tendulkar, and Ganguly's been around ever since I've really started to understand the game. I still remember his century at Lords. It's funny. I am a huge Tendulkar fan, and yet, when I think about cricket all these years, the moments which come to mind quickly and which I remember vividly are all Ganguly moments. The Lords century, those flowing cover-drives which left a packed off-side field running for cover, the shirt moment, again at Lords, the infamous wait Steve Waugh had to endure, that Pepsi ad which the world laughed at and finally, the comeback. It's hard to believe he's gone, gone at the peak of his form, gone after a comeback which even the craziest of his fans would not have genuinely believed as possible.

I've always had a soft corner for fighters, for people who want to and make a comeback against all odds. The odds were stacked heavily against him. The advertisement took the cake, for most people. For some strange reason, I'd always loved it. I don't think it would have been easy for him to do it. And he's never really been short of money, I doubt he'd put himself through so much trouble for a silly ad. He did it, because he meant it. What a way to announce to the world that he was gonna come back. And what a way to follow that up!

So one of the big four is gone. By far the most charismatic of them. It's only a matter of time before the other 3 bow out. One is in the middle of a horrendous patch, and is likely to be given a heave-ho for the upcoming England series. The other 2 continue in the same vein as old, but age can go only one way. Tendulkar insists that he will play for a few years more; the temptation of one last shot at the the ultimate prize - the World Cup is what, one suspects, keeps him going. With the temperament and skill that he has, it's quite likely that he will keep playing till then without giving the selectors any chance of thinking of keeping him out.

Ganguly has started the end of an era in Indian cricket. Without the big 4, without Tendulkar, Indian cricket will be but a bunch of talented youngsters. It's difficult to get by without something which you've grown up with. Cricket without Ganguly and Tendulkar will be but a pale shadow of it during the days when these 2 men set entire stadiums afire with their dazzling displays and personalities. There couldn't be a bigger contrast between them in many aspects, and yet they couldn't be more similar in the way they were synonymous with cricket for a long, long time.

There's this strange feeling that Tendulkar gives me. Call me crazy, but whatever trough life is in, if Tendlya's on song, everything else seems but a faraway worry. When the sun's out, the field's spread, Tendlya's batting like the good ol' days, it feels that everything else will take care of itself. It's a strange, overwhelming feeling of comfort, watching him in sublime touch. Yuvraj might dazzle with his stunningly graceful strokeplay, Dhoni might hoik things out of the stadium, but nothing, nothing comes close to a classic, minimal-follow-through Tendulkar straight drive.

When Tendulkar edges yet another one to slips or onto the stumps, I merely switch off the television for the day. When he hangs up his boots, however, the idiot box will stay off for a while. :|

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