Drop Laxman. Drop Dravid (and cross my heart, drop He-Who-Can-Do-No-Wrong?).
As is typically with Indian cricket at these times, not surprising, the mantra seems to be ‘out with the old, and in with the new’.
How silly are calls to drop players who have not delivered for a couple of series? Or even lesser number of games? How easy do we forget for eg. that Dravid was the leading run scorer, in the test match format of cricket, in 2011? A year which finished all of fifteen days ago.
But that said, let’s make no mistake.
Say goodbyes here, we must. Not for silly matters like performance or lack of it over a few games. But in the larger interests of Indian cricket. Here’s my argument around eighteen months ago, for the holy trinity to be put out to pasture.
Having said that, not only is there a time to go, but surely, there is a way to go too.
Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman have been such fantastic servants of Indian Cricket, who would blame them at all of exceeding themselves if they expect some dignity in the way they exit the grand stage. Indeed, these gentlemen have done enough and more to be accorded the privilege to choose the time of their exit.
To respect your elderly and ageing generals is an important part of sport, indeed, life itself. For respect is life. If one is no longer needed, does not one expect a basic courtesy of being told so with politeness and dignity?
A bit of foresight by our selectors, and Laxman could well have had a farewell series over the past eighteen months or so. How about a calypso goodbye for the ultimate Magician, in Jamaica?
What nostalgia if Dravid would have with a heavy heart, bid adieu to his love affair with England and Lords, at Lords? The Mecca as it were?
And as for The God, what could have been better than Perth in 2012? The place where The Legend took a bouncy birth as a teen prodigy in 1991? Where it all began?
What ammunition for the television channels, those sellers of dreams; for what could be a bigger buildup to a series than : India vs Australia. December 2011. Sachin Tendulkar’s final test series. (None of that childish Agneepath business, as it were).
And if the man had ticked off the silly little affair of the hundredth ton by the side, the marketing men probably would have been in apoplexies of collective nirvana.
Beautiful swansongs were so waiting to be written. Treacle thick nostalgia awaiting to be laid out by the dollops. Honeyed words waiting to be typed out for posterity in the newspapers. Bitter-sweet good-byes waiting to be said with lumps in throats. Shoulders of the young limbering up, waiting for the privilege to carry the greats around laps of honours around the stadium. To hear a spectator say 'Thank you, for everything. You enriched my life beyond measure.'
Final wistful and teary eyes of the player, trying to capture in the mind’s eye for posterity, the ground and emptying stands. The thuds of the cricket kits being closed with a finality. For The final time. A million myriad emotions swirling in the fading darkeness -sadness with leaving the only life one had ever known, and yet, satisfaction at a life well lived.
Those, are goodbyes.