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Friday, July 20, 2018

planning one's retirement - speculation on MS Dhoni retiring !!


If you are over 50 – feel stressed in job; family reasonably well-settled, perhaps would have pondered on this already ! – and for such people this post may make an interesting read. crisis of existentialism !!

Retirements are  normal; We have seen so many in our lives with the passage of time…… it is a process where a person stops employment completely.  We are not speaking about anything forced but the natural retirement upon person reaching the prescribed age limit of 58 or 60….  In some ways, it is a happy event that somebody can take rest peacefully and perhaps devote his time and attention to religious or social activity ~ not required to work any longer……not all are fortunate..  retirement is  an emotional event for everyone and it is more emotional for the retiree.    In most PSU, there was a well established procedure……. ~ the Department would often conduct a ‘Farewell party’ – presided by the Head of the Organisation / Head of that particular Department / or a Senior Executive of the Organisation.  People will speak of all the good characteristics that the individual displayed in their service; followed by an emotional speech of acceptance by the retiring employee.  He for sure will be given gifts [personal and official – most importantly the retrial benefits], will be garlanded [mostly garland made of sandalwood], given fruits [apple] and dropped at home in office conveyance with some colleagues accompanying him / her back home.  [there of course is the cardinal rule that the retired employee better not go to the office for he may never get that respect again !!]

Even Pope retires; but in India where retirement is compulsory for all office goers, there is none for politicians…. In the 9th  Lok Sabha elections, there was this gentleman who at the ripe age of 89 was contesting the elections and actually won by a handsome margin too…. That was ‘Mr NG Ranga’.  My mind goes back to an ODI at Faridabad in Oct 17, 1994, where I felt my favourite national Hero was insulted by the Captain.


To millions of his followers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a phenomenon, a great thing to happen for Indian cricket.  Yet at this age, often his  future becomes  fodder for speculation.  There is so much after a small incident of his seeking the  match ball at the end of the lost third ODI against England. The 37-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman was seen seeking the ball from the umpires as players left the ground after India lost by eight wickets on Tuesday to go down 1-2 in the series.


"Is Dhoni retiring?" was the talking point as all and sundry ..  Dhoni asked for the ball from field umpires Bruce Oxenford  and Michael Gough (England) at Leeds ~ and immediately Twitter went abuzz rumouring that to be an act of taking a relice and that he may not be present again in an ODI .. .. how sad !! England put up a strong all-round show to thump Team India by eight wickets in the series-deciding third and final ODI . The series loss marks this Indian team's first bilateral series defeat under Virat Kohli. But more than the defeat, former Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni taking the match ball from the umpires had the fans worried. India coach Ravi Shastri dismissed the rumours. "MS wanted to show the ball to Bharat Arun. He wanted to show him the wear and tear the ball had endured, to get a general idea of what the conditions were like." "But right now, all this clamour is nonsense. He just wanted to show the ball to Arun to just have a look at it after close to 45 overs had been bowled," Shastri told Times of India.

MSD sprung a surprise in 2014, downunder when he retired mid-way during the series at Australia after   the drawn Test against Australia in Melbourne. Dhoni was batting on 24 when the Test was called off early at the MCG - four overs were left and India had four wickets in hand - and he made no mention of his retirement during the customary captain's press conference at the end of the match. The announcement was made via a BCCI press release shortly after and it cited "the strain of playing all formats" as the reason.  He certainly has a lot of left as revealed by his wicketkeeping performance in this tour, the way he has taken catches and effected stumpings – a class of his own.

Shabby treatment to our heroes towards their retirement is perhaps nothing new to us.  Kapil Dev Nikhanj was the very best to occur for Indian Cricketer – the man burst into the scene making debut at Faislabad, when India was a land of spinner (more specifically the famous quarter of Bedi, Prasanna, Chandra and Venkat) – made Pak opener Sadiq Mohammed scurrying for cover, wearing a helmet, surprised by the pace of an Indian bowler. 

Dev’s finest moment was captaining the Team in 1983 WC triumph.  He retired in 1994, holding the world record for the most number of wickets taken in Test cricket, a record subsequently broken by Courtney Walsh in 2000. At the time, he was also India's highest wicket taker in both major forms of cricket, Tests and ODIs. He is the first player to take 200 ODI wickets. He is the only player in the history of cricket to have taken more than 400 wickets (434 wickets) and scored more than 5,000 runs in Tests.  There was some suggestion that he stayed a bit long, especially chasing that World record of highest wickets of Richard Hadlee. 


 The game would be better served if only the Q is – whether a player is good enough to represent the side, are there players who can substitute him, rather than comparing one with past deeds or weighting against expectations !! Kapil did play till early 1994, and by then he was over 35. That meant 16 years of international cricket, 16 years of wear and tear, 16 years of shouldering the burden of bowling in a nation not known for speedsters.

Before concluding the little master, the man with most compact defence, the run machine, Sunil Gavaskar always had things under his control.  He made a grand debut in West Indies  making  65 and 67 not out in the second Test in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, hitting the winning runs which gave India its first-ever win over the West Indies  in 1971. He followed this with his first century, 116 and 64* in the third Test in Georgetown, Guyana, and 1 and 117* in the Fourth Test in Bridgetown, Barbados. He returned to Trinidad for the fifth Test and scored 124 and 220 to help India to its first ever series victory over the West Indies.  He played his last Test innings – the 5th test at Bangalore in Mar 1987 – having become the first batsman to score 10000 test runs.  The wicket was a square turner and Pakis were bowled out for 116.  In a minefield of a pitch, in  4th innings, he made a stoic 96 only to see India lost by 16 runs.  He was the man of the match in his last test. Months later, in Reliance World Cup  at his home in Mumbai in Nov 5, 1987, India lost to England when Graham Gooch swept everything.  Gavaskar made 4 but in the match earlier (his penultimate match) he made his first century in ODI and was joint man of the match with Chetan Sharma, who took a hattrick.

Getting back to that Faridabad onedayer which India lost, the captain Mohammed Azharuddin, sort of plucked the ball from Kapil Dev’s hands as he returned nonchalantly to bowl his next over – he had bowled hundreds of them for the Nation – India played with Manoj Prabhakar, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and Rajesh Chauhan and yet Kapil was given only 5 overs – rest bowled by Sachin Tendulkar.  Retirements are but common !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
20th July 2018.

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