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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Whos Next

It was 1987 Sunil Gavaskar hung his boots after an epic but heartbreaking century against Pakistan at Bangalore. That was a long series with dull draws. It was hyped as this 2012 Pak series of T20s and ODIs is. It was Gavaskar vs Imran.  For kids like me born in mid 70s and induced into cricket religion in early 80s marked by 83 WC win, it was end of world. For me Kapil was the main show and Gavaskar the director.  There were Patils, shastris, shrikants, binnys, jimmys , colonels and madans but crux of team were these north and south poles. As in India we value batting more than bowling, Gavaskar retired was like a catastrophe. Who will replace him?  In comes a Mumbai lad who not only made a mark but also excelled the incumbent in all aspects.

 And of course ODI cricket gave him a demi-god status coupled with liberalization, entry of cable TV, day and night colored cricket, hypes around WC and other trophies.  He excelled along with Indians in all fields of life like business, IT, infrastructure. World outside changed with cold war making way for terror driven divide. We Indians crossed the chasm taking over high end technology and management jobs worldwide. Economy opened up with all world majors wanting to start shop here.  Now ODIs will be no more same. I have my own story attached to successes of Sachin over last 23 years but not very significant for public domain. Growing up with Tendulkar was great. Be it career defining Xth and XIIth academics. I remember how his maiden century in England and later Perth gave us confidence (though his test career is still intact and what has ended is ODI stuff). That tied ODI in Perth vs WI with sachin bowling was amazing. Be it hostel life in Kharagpur when he was making his early marks in world cricket. Memories include career defining opening blitzkrieg at Napier, Last over in Hero cup 93 at kolkatta, maiden century.  His captainship coincided with first job in Mumbai. But period when we plunged into entrepreneurship coincided with those two innings in sharjah popularly known as desert storm not as captain. Death of his father during 99 WC coincided with death of my father in law. His attack on Pakis in 03 erased all defeatist mindset India had against Pakistan in 80s , sharjahs and elsewhere. That was time when i embarked upon world stage in outsourcing. His injury since 05 coincided with BP and spinal issues. Disaster in WC 07 coincided with some turbulence.  His stamp on winning tri-series final in Australia in 08 marked us shifting to a big facility. His 200 coincided with a deal signed.  And finally his WC triumph which was witnessed live in person, marked in Himalayan trek and new experiences which had been dreamt since 1989 when i did my first Himalayan trek.

I am sure all of us have such thought process. Every one’s life has been enriched by Tendulkar memories. Each ODI was an event one looked forward to. His failure was hated and his success was assumed.  Cricket ODI viewing will be no more the same. Don’t know how most of us will cope up. But as they say time is only healer. And no one and nothing is indispensible in this world even Tendulkar.
Now we should answer who is next Tendulkar just as we found Tendulkar to be next Gavaskar. Virat? Rahane? I enjoy watching Rahane though with similar excitement as i had for young Sachin. He has to be more mature and selectors should trust him more.  Virats ODI record is better than Tendulkars at that stage. So let’s watch out these two. But when ODI future itself remains uncertain we don’t know if there will be any Tendulkar replacement for all stature he has acquired. T20s is different ball game and test future of India seems hazy with lack of bowling options and new batsmen trying to put feet into big shoes.

One thing is sure, that i got induced to cricket due to one Mr Kapil Dev Nikhanj.  His bowling and his batting induced life into proceedings on the field. His fielding was always excellent. His fitness after carrying team load for 15 years is exemplary. Though Kapils end was bit dragged like that of Sachin. I still feel as a fan 2nd April 11 was the date to call quits as last 20 months have been difficult to digest for ardent sachin fan. But still after 18 years after Kapils retirement, we have struggled to find a bowling all-rounder who would have made 2000 team of greats a greatest consistent team at world stage. Irfan flattered to deceive. And there was inconsistent Agarkar. Ganguly’s bowling was limited.

Wish kapil would have born 10-15 years later. For me debate rests for the greatest Indian crickter who was undoubtedly Kapil Dev.  We may find next Tendulkar as we found next Gavaskar.....

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