Because when you announced your retirement, you said “Hopefully we will end up on a winning note”. We did.
- Because you were the only guy referred to as the royal Prince and the high-street bully “Dada” at the same time.
- Because when you scored that classic debut century at Lord’s, some thought you will be a one-knock wonder. At Trent Bridge, you stunned them all again with a double barrel.
- Because when you played those heavenly cover drives, Rahul Dravid said, “There is only God and then Sourav Ganguly on the off-side”. Maybe even the Almighty would have just moved to mid-on.
- Because you took over as captain when match-fixing clouds hung over, but you made the right bets for the team.
- Because with Sachin Tendulkar, you made ODI opening a treat for Indians, and a nightmare for the opposition. It was left right, left right, alright.
- Because when Andrew Flintoff ran naked chest on national display at Wankhede, you lost your shirt.
- Because when the Oz threatened you with chin music, you played hip-hop with them at Brisbane hitting a majestic hundred.
- Because you never quite understood the logic and rationale behind being dropped even after scoring 10,000 runs plus in ODIs and in good nick. You are not good at reading whodunits.
- Because they burnt your effigies and hurled stones at your team in 2003, and then you led India to the finals of the World Cup in South Africa.
- Because you discovered youngsters, groomed, encouraged and inspired Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Irfan and MSD to become our future heroes.
- Because you suffered the humiliation from Greg Chappell and several critics with humility, dignity and grace.
- Because you proved that the word “age” is not a four-letter word.
- Because when axed, you concealed your hurt and disappointment, went and played local tournaments and sneaked back into the team. Then Johannesburg happened. Your fairy-tale return had happened.
- Because you have redefined the word comeback. And grit. And determination. And fighting spirit. And leadership. And many unmentioned superlatives.
- Because MSD seems to have taken the leadership baton from you, for the good of Indian cricket.
- Because you never traded your self-respect, and when they dropped you for the Irani Cup, you said—Enough!
- Because you taught Indians to fight back, not turn around in defeat.
- Because even 7,000 Test runs and 10,000 ODI runs is sometimes insufficient to measure your heroics for Indian cricket.
- Because the 2001 series win against Australia marked a historic victory in one of the greatest series ever. You were India’s captain.
- Because if it exasperated Steve Waugh, you let him wait for the toss.
- Because hopefully, we will still see you in black shining armour, Prince, for the KKR in IPL next year.
- Because on the Lord’s balcony, we discovered that you were not six-abs-pack.
- Because at Nagpur this time, you had the last laugh, and India, the last hurrah. The final frontier is recaptured.
- Because you did a Pepsi ad for your team, even as you stood silently alone in Kolkota.
- Because you will not be ever seen in whites again. Scoring runs, bowling those deceptive medium pacers. And perhaps, even misfielding.
- Because your fans will borrow from a new TV ad, and say “We miss you so much, it hurts”.
- Because it is time to let you go home to your family, and friends.
- Because now you can watch colleagues like Sachin and VVS and Ishant on the television like all of us.
- Because tomorrow morning you will join Gavaskar, Vishwanath, Bedi and Srikanth as a “former” player. An ex.
- Because you can now perhaps play football as well at Eden Gardens.
- Because it’s time to say good-bye.
- Because you did us proud.
- Because you never gave up.
- Because if you don’t deserve the salutations from us all Indians, who does?
November 13, 2008
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