Thursday, August 20, 2009

Losing My Religion

Finally I have overcome some terrible and some not so terrible setbacks and have dug deep into the pool of creativity to write this blog on my favorite topic ever: CRICKET. With the success of T20 I have had many debates with cricket haters about the longevity of test and one day cricket as we know them today. There is no doubt about the fact that T20 is more attractive and test cricket is not so. But people (like myself) who love the sledging and planning of a test match, the joy of a hattrick or a double century and that last ball finish after a 7 hour see saw match will beg to differ. I brought this point mainly as this is the hottest point of discussion about cricket at this point of time. In my opinion everybody has a right to watch whatever he likes and we cannot force anything.

To put it differently, many of us don't really like the test/ODI scene today because there are no HEROES playing now. For many of us cricket began in November 1989. Pictures of what went before are too hazy. I remember Imran Khan lifting the World Cup but don't recall what I was doing then. So I can't connect Pakistan's World Cup win to my own life.

Sachin Tendulkar spoilt us. He commanded that we sit in front of the television sets. He ensured we got late with homework, he took care of our lunch-break discussions. Some of us naive schoolboys even thought we would achieve similar feats when we were 16. We got to 16 and continued to struggle with homework. Then came Kumble and the two undertook a teenager-pampering mission not seen in India before. Tendlya walked on water, Jumbo parted seas. When we thought we had seen everything, they reversed roles - Tendlya bowled a nerve-wracking last over, Jumbo played a match winning hand with the bat. One fine day at Lord's we got a glimpse of two new saviors: Delicate Timing and Immaculate Technique. Suddenly my group of eight friends was split into two camps. You were either with Ganguly or Dravid. When we played cricket on the streets, we had a number of choices. Left-handers were thrilled, defensive batsmen were happy, extravagant stroke-makers were delighted, the short boys didn't need to feel left out anymore, spectacles became cool, and freaky bowling actions were no more laughed at.

But alas, every good thing has got to go. With half of the fab four already retired and the geeky Jumbo hanging his boots one of my friends from school told me "Our childhood is ending," and in some way he was probably spot on. Tendulkar's retirement may mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but for a generation of 20-30-year-olds it will mark the end of the first part of their lives. Switching on the television the day after will be a serious challenge.