Yes, to start with many may be wondering how come someone can say India has lost its sheen, when the boys are winning games upfront!
Well at the first place, its not about the winning or statistics. Its about the pure cricketing charm, that essence, that old world traditional charm of cricket which India had when we had our Agarkars, the Tendulkars, the Azharuddins to Sehwag, Laxman, Ganguly, Irfan, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer, Yuvraj & Bhajji! Like in the literal sense, I can’t feel that enthusiaism or that energy, that aura which we once had when all these players used to play on the cricketing field!
Like there is Virat, who is on a run-scoring spree, but he is in no way matching the aura and charm which Sachin exuded. He looks more of a robotized version who is doing what he has learnt from the books. There is Dhawan but he is honestly too boring and not even half as classy or consistent as Gambhir or Ganguly, there is Ajinkya, but when you compare him with the wall of cricket, its too unfair. There is Raina, but no way near to Yuvi or Kaif, also inconsistent and always getting out the same way which makes him more a irritating batsman rather than being a talented batsman, there is Rohit Sharma who is just getting unlimited chances because he is supremely talented, maybe he is the new Vinod Kambli of Indian Cricket atleast as far as Test matches are concerned, there is Mishra, there is also Ashwin, but he is too plain-jane, yes he is talented, but can anyone replace Kumble or Bhajji’s charm and poise on on the field? Probably, no! there is Bhuveneshwar, there is Ishant, there is Shami, but when you compare this attack with Irfan pathan, Zaheer khan, Ashish nehra in tandem or the previous generations of Srinath, Agarkar and Venkatesh, these people look so mediocre, out of energy, like they are bowling just for the sake of it like those horses who are forced to run on turf races without any zeal or purpose.
That die-hard Indian charm, that total devotion to Indian cricket, that bleed blue fire of Saurav Ganguly, those middle order partnerships of Yuvi & Kaif’ is now nothing but a stuff of legends which is replaced by professional cricketers who are out here to perform because they are paid for it, now players are more busy signing Ad contracts, lucrative deals, domestic leagues which makes them earn crores, that real loyalty towards Indian cricket, that inbuilt fire and enthusiaism is totally lacking.
Can we ever witness those matches India used to play in Sharjah in the late 90’s & early 2000’s where Sachin-Saurav would thrash Shane Warne and other teams with total assimilation?
Have we ever come across a better patriotic, livewire and devoted India-Pakistan series like we used to witness between the 90’s and early 2000’s. That stuff was completely different. That 2004/2005 or 2007 India-Pakistan ODI’s & Tests at Multan and Mohali? That frenzy, aura, that charm, excitement & pure innocence towards sport is nowhere seen today!
Now there is no more excitement, that burning sense of patriotism, thanks to this boring lot of highly commercial & professional cricketers when there is a match going on!
Will we ever be able to witness a typical Sehwag tripe or a double century with a six, featuring against the likes of Shoaib Akhtar, Danish Kaneria, Saqlain mushtaq and Mohammad Sami?
Will we ever be able to witness Laxman’s epic 281 against the likes of Brett Lee, Shane Warne, Glenn Mcgrath, Gillespie and Macgill when scoring collectively 281 against that Australian team was a huge task! Forget about a single batsman scoring all that! The world no.1 Australian team was the toughest test team at that time with the world’s best bowling attack ever during that time. It was truly the knock of the century.
Those silky wrists and cover drives of Laxman against Mcgrath or Azharuddin’s supple wrists.
Will we ever be able to see Ganguly and the whole Indian team dancing in front of 2lakh people at the Mecca of Cricket, “The lords” removing his Indian t- shirt off and swinging & dancing for the love of his country after a spectacular win & a thrilling climax in a nail biting match against England! All thanks to Mohammad Kaif & Zaheer Khan!
Will we ever be able to see that Hat-trick which Irfan Pathan took through three magical swing balls in the first over at Lahore against pakistan in their home ground?
Will we ever be able to see Dravid’s long long innings against the best of the bowling attacks? Akhtar who runs almost a mile to deliver those 155k deliveries just to see Dravid leaving them consistently making him frustrate!
Will we ever be able to witness that 10 wicket haul which Kumble took in a single innings with a broken body and a fractured skull?
Will we ever be able to see that Sachin-Sehwag combo entering the crease & making the opposition frighten and go weak on their knees, probably also make them shiver?
Or that legendary partnership of Yuvraj & Kaif against England in the Natwest Series final in 2002 at Lords?
Also worth mentioning, we also miss that old Dhoni who used to score 148 and 183 in ODI”s against Pakistan and Sri Lanka which used to be laced with Helicopter sixes, his trademark long-locks of hair and a brash dose of rural swagger unlike today’s military style short haired Dhoni who scores half centuries & centuries with half the sixes & boundaries he used to smash once at half the strike rate & half the swagger which he once used to had!
No, all this is just now going to be remembered, soon after some time it will be like stories, written in the books where we may show and let our kids and grandkids know, how there used to be a golden era in Indian Cricket, how cricket was and what actually cricket was, where cricket was played for the sake of 100crore people who had taken a leave from their work putting their heart out to watch them play unlike today’s players who are busy raking in the money & busy scoring fast fifties and hundreds or breaking different records.
Yes, the current lot of cricketers under Kohli, they may win a lot of matches in future, they may even be successful as individual players, right from Kohli to Rahane, they may even score themselves lots of centuries and 10,000runs or more in International Cricket, but trust me that golden era, that patriotic charm, that old world essence, that nervous excitement of watching India vs Pakistan or any India match, that real smell and feeling of cricket will never ever be evoked by these players.
That Golden era which consisted Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly, Tendulkar, Kumble, Sehwag, Bhajji & later on Yuvi, Kaif and Gambhir can never be replaced. Not to forget even the previous generation of players before them were all classic!
Those high intense and high voltage matches of the 90″s featuring the Jayasuriya’s, the Ranatungas and De Silva or those intense Ashes Series of the 90″s and early 2000″s featuring Flintoff, Naseer Hossain, Michael Vaughn Strauss, Trescothick, Harmison, James Anderson on one side and Ponting, Hayden, Langer, Martyn, the Waugh Brothers, the brett lee’s, the shane Warnes & those Gillespie’s on the other side! Truly a stuff of legend!
I still crave for that match, Infact i can trade my soul for a match of India-Pakistan which features Sehwag, Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble, Bhajji, Irfan, Balaji, Yuvi, Kaif at one side & Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Inzamam, Kamran Akmal, Younis, Yousuf Youhanna, Shoaib Malik, Kaneria, Rana Naved and Yasir Hameed on the other side! That 2005 & 2007 India-Pakistan Series I still remember I used to watch in Garage when I was 10 with our whole building people arranging a T.V & the finals at the terrace of our building on a projector where eventually we all danced, one of them would also fire crackers & bullets after India winning the matches.
The current Indian players have a lacklustre charm, that is also probably the reason I & many Indians like me no more watch full ODI matches or Test matches like we used to because today neither our players nor the opposition is interesting enough, or talented enough or patriotic enough, they are just robotic players made to perform professionally for what they are paid for. The earlier generation played cricket because they wanted to play cricket, cricket was their life, but for today’s players, cricket is just a small part of their life.