In 1991, I was 12 when I witnessed my first exodus of cricketers that I considered legends. There would be No Viv Richards, No Marshall, No Vengserkar, No Srikanth, No Botham, No Boon, No Border and so on. In a flash the game had changed and there was a completely different meaning to it. Too many new faces and no emotional connection with anything that was going on. It was time to move to another stage in my own life.
It took the baby faced Sachin Tendulkar and the likes of Dravid, Kumble, Ponting, Warne, McGrath, Pollock, Kallis and Lara to bring me back to cricket. The then veterans Akram, DeSilva, Cronje and Azhar had become veterans to this surge of young talent. It was time to bond with cricket all over again. School was over and the carefree days of college had started. Each match watched then has a college memory attached to it. The joys and the lows all shared amongst all those who mattered then.
The end of college time coincided with the match fixing controversy and the waning powers of some of the stars of the time. My bond with cricket seemed weak again. It was time to start another journey in my life, that of a professional career.
And then the magic of the Kolkata test match revived my love for the game. The bond that seemed weak once was resilient enough to bring me back to the game I loved, grew up with and one that always gave me hope. Sehwag redefined approach, Australia defined peak performance, Sachin defined achievement, Lara taught me about thinking big and Dravid taught me about calm and steely determination. The game was back and the emotions flowed. Each Sachin knock mattered, Ponting’s knocks scrutinised and Dravid in defence enjoyed with pride.
But life’s journey is relentless. First Dravid, then Laxman and now Ponting. Tendulkar’s retirement is just around the corner. In each phase of my life, cricket and its legends have been a constant companion. The highs, the lows the companionship of friends and cricket memories are all etched together. I have learnt a lot from them. Thank You!
As I write this, I wonder if the bond with cricket will weaken. I wonder if this is an indicator of another phase in my life. It is however certain that I will remember these legends in my memories of a youthful past always wondering what’s ahead next.
Time to find out.