Dravid, Laxman’s retirement row: When they go, please let them go with honour

Not very long ago, they were the cynosure of all eyes when they brought the World Cup after a gap of 28 years. Not very long ago, MS Dhoni men conquered the Test crown and were considered to be the one of the best ever Indian squads of all time. But battering during the last two Test series abroad have turned the yesterday’s heroes into villains.

The demi Gods of cricket who received all the adoration and adulations a few months back, are facing the scepticism and ire of their so called die-hard fans and are under scathing attacks from so called experts who might not have achieved an iota of accomplishments of the present day brigade, which has names as illustrious as Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.

The favourite point of discussion among the cricket fraternity these days is the forced retirement of the big guns who have failed to perform with the willow Down Under and earlier in England. Dhoni has also been under scathing attack over his ineffective captaincy in the last two overseas series.

The pain and humiliation of being thrashed so miserably despite being champions in world cricket might have been unbearable for the Indian cricket fans, but does baying for blood of the players who have brought in numerous moments of joy on their faces justifiable? Does failure in 8-10 Test matches make them liable for so severe a criticism and so drastic an action that they should be thrown out of the team which they have nurtured in the last 16-20 years? Is our memory so shot-lived to have forgotten the contributions of Sachin, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag who have over 40,000 runs together in Test cricket and as many in the shorter format of the game?

Have we forgotten the joys the Little Masters’ centuries have provided in an otherwise dismal sporting atmosphere in the country or the relentless drive of ‘The Wall’ Dravid and the crisis man Laxman that transformed an otherwise meek Indian cricket team of yesteryears into a fighting, formidable squad which became the scourge for others? What happened to Sehwag’s triple centuries and the double hundred that made the nation go gaga over his performance late last year?

This is not to say as if the thrashing at the hands of the Englishmen or the Aussies should be brushed aside as just another failure, but the question to be answered here is that if the greats of the game deserves such humiliation and reaction – whether it is from their fans or their critics.

From media to ex-cricketers to owners of a tea stall, everyone wants them out of the team. The batsmen who taught India how to win abroad and score runs in alien condition are facing criticism that might make them regret of ever wielding their willow for the country.

Agreed they aren’t going to get younger and it’s time they take a call on saying goodbye to the game. Agreed, it’s time to groom the youngsters and opportune time to pass on the mantle to the young blood as India won’t be playing abroad for long. Dravid, Sachin and Laxman know it better than anyone that they have let themselves down; that they have not performed according to the expectations and that they will soon be sitting out seeing other players trying to achieve what they have achieved in their extraordinary career. But for God sake, give respect to the legends who have made us proud for so long.

The senior players have to go, they ought to retire; but then they do deserve the respect bestowed to the greats of the game. So when they go, please let them go with honour.

By Gaurav Jha
Indian Sports News