Greats in all fields reign supreme and flourish with blemishes of floundering magic. I have seen and admired few, and continue to revel upon couple of them.
Yet, such characters become an inevitable part of our lives, and in sport, we call them legends.
2012 has been one of those years that epitomized solo goodbyes (adding on self to a listless juggernaut :)). Cricket, amongst all, indulged in few classic ones.
When Ponting called it quits, a feeling crept and was descriptive in its own backyard. When VVS and ‘Wall’ hung up their boots, saw a vacuum that was felt as a self obsessed cricket nation would. Rightly so! Alright, Strauss left too but honestly, with all due respect, his was more conventionally drawn and pasted.
Neither do my eloquent first liners hand over a certificate to Punter’s on field exploits. Personally, and dramatically, I have never been a great Ponting maniac. In fact, I have often dismissed his own with lesser known struggles of his self confessed career strokes. A more significant reason ought to be the fact that we have been his most desired nemesis and I have some painful memories that were a cause of immense damage to our winning ways.
To be precise, some of his majestic innings have eluded famous victories that could have been ours. The most disgusting of all was his knock of 140 in the 2003 World Cup final; it was ours, almost, till Indian hopes eroded with a savage innings from Ricky Ponting and we were destroyed. Not that I loved his 242 and 257 in Adelaide and MCG in December 2003, that was probably the closest we had ever approached towards a first ever series win in the Australian soil. But it was not to be. Ponting was sitting in zenith and was determined to deliver guns against one of the finer and fighting Indian sides to play Cricket in the last 20 years. He did so, and I remember those knocks with soiled eyes (Sorry Punter!)
Out of his 71, 14 masquerading tons came against India. Evidently, he loved smacking us and from my side of the pitch, it was a misfortune to acknowledge few of those splendid innings that I have seen in the last 20 years of competitive world cricket.
Coming back, I still feel robbed. Lara left, Kumble and Dada progressed to script a different route for themselves. Still, was content enough to witness a phoenix act. Muralidharan and Jayasuriya hung up, and so did the menacing combo of ‘Hayden & Gilchrist’ and ‘McGrath and Warnie’. VVS, Andrew Strauss and then Dravid put the nail in the right places of the coffin. With Punter gone, Cricket feels a touch poorer.
Yup. I realize that here we are, in the age of ushering talent and hungry youngsters, and Cricket will bloom again. But I was stitched to an era that gave and spent Cricket’s moolah with elegance and master class. We still have a few torch bearers left; yet felt squashed before I sat to pen this down.
As I await the glory ahead, I feel gobbled with the food of vintage and vernacular past that still dances around with those beautiful toes.