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Sunday, January 3, 2010


A burly fast bowler  - Makhaya Ntini

For any sports person, timing his exit or retirement at peak of his career is the toughest decision to take. They will be tempted to prolong a bit further, may be in seeking to achieve another goal or simply feel that the time has not yet come.

But one should retire when people ask why and not when ? Not many have succeeded this and at times great personalities who were adored much for their performances in their hay days would become a burden in the same sport and even their fanatic supporters would start feel that he / she should have gone off gracefully much before than merely surviving in the melee. The pressure would be more when one is a star performer and considered icon.

Sunil Manohar Gavaskar was a very shrewd player. He timed his retirement to perfection. Though there were complaints in his playing days, that he cared much for personal records – he indeed had played many a remarkable innings and was a fort of defense laced with beautiful drives all round the wicket. In his last innings on a brute track, Gavaskar scored 96 in the last innings – an innings beyond compare but could not guide his team to victory. In onedayer, his last appearance was in the Reliance WC 1987 Semis – when his side lost to England, swept by Gooch. In 125 tests he scored 10122 – the highest ever at that point and in 108 one dayers, he scored 3092.

Unlike olden days, icon status seem to come to player easily and too soon. Remember IPL where each team had one icon player who was paid 15% more than the highest bought out player in the team. Some of the icon players did harm their reputation and team suffered.
In Pretoria, Makhaya Ntini is sort of icon. His captain Greame Smith has sort overcome a dilemma – a sentimental one at that. At Kingsmead, Ntini went wickedness through 29 overs and the captain felt that he is no longer worth the backing. Over there colour is a big issue. Ntini has been the focal point as there was build-up of his 100th test cap at Centurion – but with age he has been declining. Unfortunately there has been talk that there has been no black cricketer making to the final eleven though Lonwabo Tstosobe, the left arm pacer has represented in one dayers. This first African to play for SA who made his debut way back in 1988 against Lankans and celebrated his 100th cap recently would perhaps soon announce his retirement.

Nearer home, another legend is on the twilight zone. Muttiah Muralitharan, the genius did not perform well in the recent tour – though it would be never be too easy for any spinner on a tour to India, especially with Sehwag factor. The great Murali of late has been somewhat a pedestrian. The 2009 was not very good primarily because of his injuries – in 16 ODI he took 22 at an economy of 4.77 – very good by international standards but not by his yardstick. In Tests it was 26 of 8 tests – age and flat tracks are taking its toll.
The indomitable office has so far taken 792 in 132 tests and 512 in 334 in onedayers having bowled more than 61000 balls in both the forms put together. He is aiming at 800 wickets and would perhaps last till 2011 WC – when he takes a bow, cricket would certainly be missing a genius

An avid cricket fan – Sampathkumar.

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