|Article first published as Rahul Dravid Announces Retirement From First Class Cricket on Technorati. What a great ambassador for the game of cricket!|
It was a pity that that Gautam Gambhir who is such terrific form could not play in the 4th and final cricket Test against Australia at Nagpur. He has been India’s leading run getter in the series scoring 463 runs at an average of 77. Yet, I am delighted at the bold move taken by the Indian selectors to draft in the obviously talented but relatively untested M. Vijay into the Test team. It speaks of a very positive outlook where they are willing to take a few risks in backing talent.
We knew the day wasn’t too far off. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. He was 38 after all and had been playing competitive cricket under high pressure for nearly two decades. Anil Kumble has decided to call it a day. Yesterday, on the last day of the 3rd cricket Test between India and Australia, he announced his retirement from Test cricket.
Reputations don’t matter. Performances do. How often have we come across this phenomenon – in the world of sport as indeed in the world of business. A case in point is the performance ( or should we say non-performance) of the Indians in the first cricket Test in Colombo recently. The much vaunted Indian batting crumbled to lose the Test to Sri Lanka in the fourth day itself. The margin of defeat ? A staggering innings and 239 runs. The scorecard makes sad reading.
One more tournament is over. One more final has been lost. A few weeks back we lost the Kitply finals to Pakistan. Yesterday, the Indians were thrashed by Sri Lanka in the finals of the Asia Cup .
At one stage, India were off to a great start, thanks to some incisive bowling by Ishant Sharma. The Sri Lankans were down at 66-4. We let Jayasuriya put on more than 130 runs in partnership with Dilshan. Eventually he scored 125 off 114 balls to power Sri Lankans to a reasonably respectable score of 273.
The young Sales Executive looked crest fallen when he came to meet me. He was a guy who lived near my house and I knew him to be pretty successful in his work. He was invariably bubbly and highly enthusiastic. It turned out that not only was the last quarter a disaster in terms of his selling efforts. His boss had warned him to pull up his socks:or else………..
As we spoke the first thought that came to my mind was ” Feast or Famine”. His performance which was terrific the last few quarters had slumped to nothing this quarter. The man who proudly told me last year he was going to Sun City in South Africa along with Top Performers in his company, was asking for advice on getting sales to merely stay on the job. He was like an express train which had hit an unseen wall.
The India-Australia Test series is over. All of us have some special memories of the series. Mine- like I am sure it would be for many fans the world over- would be the spell young Ishant Sharma bowled to the Aussie captain Ricky Ponting at Perth.
Statistics can be misleading. He got only 6 wickets in the 3 Tests that he played in Australia recently. There can be no doubt that he was the bowler who seemed most likely to get a wicket at any time.
This spell of hostile fast bowling brings cheer to Indian fans. Mark Nicholas writes in the Telegraph .
“It was the relentlessness that both caught the eye and raised the brow. The sheer clarity of what was taking place will not be forgotten. If Sharma does not go on and on from here, there will be questions asked. The man is a born assassin. The scorecard will inform us that I Sharma took one second-innings wicket in India’s famous 2008 win over Australia at the WACA ground in Fortress Perth. But figures do not tell us everything. An aggressive approach, a braced front leg, a high arm and a strong and well-positioned wrist all combined with mighty heart and mind to breach the opposing captain.”
Adam Gilchrist called Sharma a “lethal” bowler. Very high praise indeed from the great Aussie wicket keeper who has seen many great fast men in his playing career.
Let’s hope too much praise so early in his career does not affect the 19 year old. He has got talent which should be nurtured. In the last Test at Adelaide he reached speeds of 147 km.p .h.
I see in him a clear winner.