So long...

They were the stuff dreams are made of, they used to bring smile on a lot of faces, they used to make people forget their daily worries and be happy in a common joy. Now, they are about to be history.

Amid all the anger and frustration and sadness at India's dismal performance in the 2007 edition of the ICC World Cup, something that I did not see many people mentioning was that this would, in all probability, be the last world cup in which the BIG THREE of our team play together. I am talking about the trio of Sachin, Rahul and Sourav; the three who had been pillars of our team for a long time now. Also the three who probably stand to lose the most from this debacle.

I am deeply disappointed at my team's performance, I do not have enough words to express how I feel. So my post on the dream that was may be delayed (or may never come). But this is something I would like to mention now rather than later. I am not sure how others feel but these three have given me some memorable moments, moments which will stay with me for a long time.

The debate will always be on whether Sachin is/was the best batsman in the world or not. But the truth remains, no other sports person could make my heart skip a beat like him. I started following cricket since India's Sharjah tour of 1991 and it took me 2-3 years to understand and appreciate the finer points of the game. The rise in Sachin's stature coincided with the times that I was at the peak of my cricket craziness, as a viewer and a gully player; just as Sachin was at the peak of his game and physical fitness. Just like millions others, I used to lose interest in a game of Sachin got out early. It used to be one of the best parts of watching a game to try and understand (or guess) what he would do next. Agreed all that was fading away slowly and slowly, but maybe I did not want to accept that. He is still better than half the other team put together, but he is just a distant shadow of his former self, and that's what makes me disappointed.

Rahul Dravid was not someone I liked right from the start. I used to think that he bats too slow even for the test matches; and never did I support his inclusion in the one-day team until the time he was first axed (somewhere around 1997). I was not very happy when he was brought back in the team later but the way he's changed was phenomenal. He was still the same Rahul, solid and dependable, but he was no more Mr Tortoise. And that must have taken lots of practice and hard work, which we never realized when he was on-field. And I remember many a matches for India when his being there has made all the difference, especially in the 2003 world cup matches. To think that pretty soon he may not be a part of team India is sad. (This may be premature but I am thinking in terms of when the next BIG tournament will be...which is certainly not the 20-20 world cup)

All teams have there share of stars, people with a larger than life personality and enough talent to feed that personality. Sourav was one of the stars of our team. Maybe he is not as flamboyant now as he was when he was the captain (and earlier than that) but he was always the closest to a star we had in our team in the late 90s and the early 2000s. His dancing down the track to fast bowlers and hitting them for sixes over cover used to give me goose bumps and a strange feeling of pride. He has always been one of top in my list, his technical shortcomings not withstanding, because of what he did for team India. This is most definitely his last world cup and I hope he had a better exit, more for his sake than for anything else.

This was not planned as an obituary of these players' careers, and it is not. I realize that each of them have it in them to bounce back from this a better person/player. But there is very little chance that these three will grace the stage together on a canvas as big as the world cup.
And that is what saddens me :(