The Greatest Generation?
Born in the early 90s and to a father who loved his Cricket, it took me very little time to find my first love. I had a mini-bat and a ball with me by the time I was 4 and my dad ensured I knew how to bowl over arm by the time I was 5. Chucking was not acceptable when I used to bowl to him. I would imitate Anil Kumble’s bowling action and he would tell me ‘His arm doesn’t bend’.
I got a bat when I was 5 and at the age when most boys would die for toy cars and bikes, all I wanted was my new bat and a ball. I could kill hours throwing the ball on the wall and hitting it to different parts of the house. The chairs, tables and even my mom’s expensive crystal showpiece were fielders. Unfortunately, a lot of these expensive fielders were prematurely injured due to my aggressive batting.
Prior to the first ball of the 1999 World Cup being bowled, I had already played my World Cup Finals; India vs Pakistan. Sachin carried his bat and India had set an unassailable target.
THE ULTIMATE GENERATION
Saeed Anwar and Sanath Jayasuriya used to give me nightmares back in the days. Thankfully, I have no recollection of Anwar’s 194 against India at Sharjah, but Jayasuriya’s 189 still gives me nightmares. On top of that, India was bundled out for 54. My first ever ‘Final’ and India had been outplayed!
In these 16 years of Cricket (1999-2015), I’ve watched some of the greatest batsmen play the game. In fact, I’ve watched 8 out of the Top 9 run scorers in Test Cricket history in their prime. Brian Lara, the only batsmen I missed out on.
However, the ones that make it to my Best batsmen list are; Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Kumar Sangakkara.
This is purely based on two simple factors; 1. How hard was it for the opposition to get Dravid out?
2. How hard was it for India to get these batsmen out?
“If I have to put anyone to bat for my life, it’ll be Kallis or Dravid”. – Brian Charles Lara
Some would argue I’m going all hipster to not include Sachin Tendulkar in the list, but, I honestly felt much more safer when Dravid was batting than when Sachin was on strike.
Dravid retired in Jan 2012 followed by Ponting later that year. Kallis batted till the penultimate day of 2013 and Kumar Sangakkara’s departure a couple of weeks back marks the end of a generation. The early 90s kids’ ‘Heroes’ generation. Shivnarine Chanderpaul would’ve made it but I wouldn’t put him in the same bracket as the others mentioned above.
It’s a sad time for a lot of cricket fans like me with our childhood superheroes calling it quits, but have others before me felt the same? Did kids born in the late 80s feel the same when Lara, Waugh, Inzamam, Kirsten, etc retired in a span of 2-3 years? Players they saw play from start to finish?
Some would say the sport goes on and it produces such World Class batsmen for every generation of Cricket lovers. I hope in 10 years someone can write about how they missed out on AB De Villers’ prime but they’ve seen the greatest in Root, Smith, Williamson and Kohli. But will it be the same? Was this generation of Test cricketers the greatest ever? Can Test Cricket survive without these legends?