Life’s all about comebacks. This theme was inbred in many folks like me through the wise sayings of elders, movie stars and politicians. Living my life with a strict code, I’ve always managed to bounce back (so much so, I’m the all time favourite of bouncy ball manufacturers as the brand ambassador).
The morning today was however quite bitter, I got a jolt while reading the paper with my morning brew, an army of nubile journalists have called me and my equally experienced brethren the single most reason for the uneven development of the team in the past decade.
Before aiming guns at me, they must look at my stats. I’ve amassed thousands of runs, taken hundreds of catches and claimed hundreds of wickets in the 800 games that I’ve played. My experience in the dressing room is nothing less of extraordinary. Many a youngsters have been promoted by me after they paid their due obeisance to me.
Many call me a fickle minded creature but it’s not my fault that
I had to retire eighteen times during the course of my over a decade-long career.
I am a man of my word.
I had to retire when the selectors had the audacity to drop me after I under performed for a span of as little as six to eight months! What is a span of a year compared to my life of service to the game?
They say I stifled opportunities for youngsters while using my clout in the dressing room. I say boy, that kind of clout comes through years of scheming and I must say that it is a feat for which I should be given another award. If they don’t, I just might have to make my 19th comeback and mind you, I have the people’s support and the media follows me in whatever I do.
I also had to retire when that arrogant selector had called names. What else can a man do? I had to hang my boots then. If it was not for the super successful ad campaign that got me the following of cricket fans around the world along with the highest endorsement fee ever for a cricketer, I wouldn’t have come back.
I am a man of my word.
One time I retired because I felt that I was getting slow and did not have it in me anymore. Then the unthinkable happened and my close friend got the post of the chief selector after a shift of power. He rightly suggested that I would be doing good to the nation’s cricket by coming back from retirement as just my presence on the field would be inspiring, while the coach would get an opportunity to make the other players better in all departments of the game, even fielding!
Now I believe you must be a fielder if you are not a master batsman or bowler. Not my case. I also helped the coach by subtly telling him that if he did not make it work, he’d have to go.
One of my favourite retirements from cricket is the time when I got drunk on the tour Down Under and the blasted new media guys pissed me off in the press conference next day. They questioned my commitment to the team after a 5-0 whitewash by the opposition! I quit the very moment, only to be pursued back into the game by my grandmother who rightly believed drunken decisions were not to be followed, even if they were right like in my case.
I think by now you would understand why time and time again, I had to retire from cricket and had to come back for unforeseen reasons. It hurts when people dismiss me as a balding blockhead who has hampered the forward movement of his team. I’m not balding, and even if I am, I have the money to get my head weaved with silky smooth mane.
And all those who still think that I have done grave injustice, kindly look at the god of cricket - Sachin Tendulkar. If he can play for as long as he has, why can’t we? We won’t be able to notch up Man of the Series trophies regularly like him, or wear the IPL Orange Cap, or break any of his records or field like him but he’s god! We can only aspire to be like him, and if I’ve lived a dream of playing as long as he has, what wrong have I done?
His team is the world champion due to the fact that it has worked as a ‘team’, even Sachin says so. I don’t have that team, if only they made me the only deciding authority apart from giving me captaincy, I would have done that too (it is the one thing required for every non-Tendulkar cricketer to make his team work).
My retirement this time has come due to my unfortunate luck, as my knees had become weak by the constant service to my country and my benevolent sponsors and the correctional surgery comes with the clause of me not being able to sprint any more.
With a heavy heart, I’ve decided to hang my boots again and impart my years of experience and cricketing acumen to the young protégées who will willingly lay down their lives for me. My connections will surely help me in making my new dream a reality. (Also, my trusted local trainer cum brother-in-law says that it will serve as a buffer income and keep me in media glare till I can jog a bit, thereby paving way for one final comeback for all times’ sake).
P.S - This is a fictional diary entry of a 45+ Asian cricketer who has hung his boots for the ‘last time’ and had decided to mentor the succeeding generations apart from penning a book titled “Retire For Your Gains: 1001 Ways”.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)