Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman & Saurav Ganguly: The ‘Fab Four’ were the backbone of the Indian batting line up for years on end. Whether it was rescuing the team from perilous positions or batting till the crows came home, these 4 were the heart and soul of the Indian team whenever it was needed. Saurav left first. Then came Dravid and Laxman’s turn. None of them had really great farewells so much so that they were almost pushed to retirement as calls became louder to have a younger team and fresh legs. It was said that youngsters performing badly is better than oldies extending their time. But Tendulkar was different. He was the so called ‘God’ in the temple of Cricket. He couldn’t go without a bang, could he?
A special series (or ‘Sachin Festival’ as someone called it) outside of the ICC Fixtures program was organized in India just for him so that he could retire in front of his home crowd. West Indies, a team who seemed least interested in playing tests were invited. They were so abysmal that they couldn’t even bat 90 overs in any innings and therefore single handedly took the sheen out of SRT’s farewell series. All he got was 2 innings to bat one of them spoilt by a poor decision. That’s what happens when you organize a series just for the sake of organizing one.
Once the victory was done, there were speeches and emotions were flying high with lots of melodramatic moments. It seemed as though the entire country was crying along with the man of the moment. India’s favourite son had finally called it quits. The funny part of all this was that the same people who had called for his head for over 2 years since the 2011 WC victory had started posting emotional messages on Facebook & Twitter. But then that’s how the mind of an Indian cricket fan works.
And now that he’s gone, the long awaited transition of Indian cricket is complete. There are none of the Fab Four. There is no Sehwag, no Harbhajan & no Zaheer. There was a time people said that the Indian team wouldn’t be able to cope up with the loss of such greats. Though the team has performed admirably in ODIs, T20s and Tests at home, the time when the loss of such greats is felt is during the overseas tours. In 2011, despite the presence of three of the ‘Fab Four’, India still lost 8-0 across the two series in England and Australia. But now with all of them long gone, it is surely going to be a mountainous challenge for the young Indian batsman in South Africa and New Zealand in the coming few months.
The fact that we have still not been able to find a proper number 6 long after Ganguly’s retirement is quite a scary thought. Raina and Yuvraj have been tried and thrown away many times with varying degrees of success. Dhawan, Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane & Pujara are all exciting batsman in their own right. But the challenge to live up to the Fab Four begins now!
Maybe, the best thing for them would be if we avoid their comparison with the ‘Fab Four’ at all. Now is the time when these batsman can come out of the shadows of the legends and start the journey to become a legend in their own right!