There were a few things that defined my teenage years. Saurav and Kumble, Graf and Agassi, FRIENDS, Tom and Jerry. Well, the last thing can be explained. FRIENDS was over four years back, if you don’t count the reruns. Graf and Agassi are restricted to ads. Saurav and Kumble retired last week. The world I knew it is changing and from where I can see, I am not sure what’s next. I have a love all relationship with tennis and a love-hate with cricket. I learnt both tennis and cricket sitting on my grandmother’s side. She explained the rules, the quirks and the silliness of people fighting over a ball. Tennis, I got hooked on. Cricket, not until I saw Dada walk on to the pitch. I was sold. I had no clue whatsoever what an offside was but knew it looked beautiful when he hit it. Fours and Sixes looked breathtaking. There was something about the smug look on his face and the pride with which he approached the game. The slight tilt of his head, the smile, I was thisclose to worshiping the ground he walked on. I heard bells for a whole day after speaking to him over the phone and flew inches above the ground when he wrote to me twice (Personal gloat Moment), well actually his secretary did, but try explaining that to the 16 yr old me. Anyway, Kumble 10 wicket haul and the amazing moment when Saurav removed his shirt at Lord’s are engraved in my mind. They are those few defining moments of Indian cricket when I was growing up. The cornerstones of a team that was defined itself as a quite, defiant, stubborn, proud and overtly passionate..qualities I aspired to have. Everybody liked Tendulkar. I liked Ganguly because I like to go against the grain. I wanted to rebel and the rebel from Calcutta captured my imagination. His retirement is extremely bittersweet. Here is a man who ruled Indian cricket at its pinnacle, who took pride in the team and the game who was made to kneel and bow..the so called prince from Calcutta who was forced to step away in the most disgusting of fashion. I know he has lot of faults, but I couldn’t see them. I might be blinded by the fact that his loyalty and pride in his youngsters trumped every thing else. Ganguly’s legacy was defining Indian cricket in a way that they would be able to withstand the assault of the new century of cricket. The sport has changed a lot, and he was responsible in many ways for bringing them from the shadows of Gavaskar and et al to the light that Dhoni, Khans and the rest represent. The cricket loving nation owes him that much.
The new generation define themselves in whole new ways. I teach students who were 10 years old when Clinton ruled and don’t remember anything before 9/11. I am not that old, or is 25 yrs that new new middle years!!!! Anyway to think that a whole new set of people are going to not know Ganguly, Tendulkar, Kumble, Chandler and Monica, Ross and Rachel, Phoebe and Joey or the doctors of ER or everything that reminds me of the amazing 90’s leaves me with a funny feeling. Maybe they will make a comeback, just like bell bottoms, Pink Floyd or the Beatles, maybe emulating the 90’s will become hip in say another 10 years. I will live for that moment. Till then I am going to go an enjoy the like of Nadal and Williams, Hamilton and Wii and of course Tom and Jerry.