I'm planning to retire too... from cricket. Perhaps the day the little lad a.k.a the great man heads back to Bandra for the last time, I'll symbolically switch off the TV. I just don't have it in me anymore.
Flash back to the late 80s and the early 90s. I watched every bit of cricket I could. I grieved when we lost (a lot). I learnt the meaning of the word 'exhilaration' when the Indian team won. There wasn't much in between. For a long while, my best moment in life (that's right, my own personal best) was India winning the Hero Cup in '93. Even at that age, I knew that personal highs lay far into the future - this was both an act of patriotism as well as an act of pure love (or so it seemed). As late as 2003, I was bitterly disappointed to have to travel to Ireland and in the process miss most of the World Cup. In the pre-cable days, I have spent standing on top of the sofa by the window to peek into the neighbour's TV to catch India v England in England. I loved the BBC commentary on radio. I was like that only.
I was also fortunate to see the Sachin era from start to finish. The Dravid-Ganguly-Kumble follow-up and the Azhar prelude bracketed it beautifully. I may have missed getting the most out of Akram, but I followed Warne, Rhodes, Gilchrist, the Waughs, the short-on-talk-only Windies and Brian Charles, the Flowers blooming along with the Zimbabweans (perhaps the most saddest story in recent cricket history), the natty New Zealanders. And so on. You know it's the nostalgia trip.
But I just don't identify with this team, or even with world cricket much more. There seems to be no flair whatsoever around, and there's not much on the horizon. What Bobby Simpson fears the most is happening pretty rapidly: teams aping Australia with a rapidity that is disastrous.
My friend Roshan will be pretty happy with my weariness: he always considered cricket to be a waste of time, a productivity-slaying-devil. It's just that there are so many things to do, and cricket isn't part of it. There must be other sports to watch, other passions to learn and be part of. I prefer watching arbit county cricket or Pura Cup action on the telly - guilt-free and zero emotional investment. Or play me replays of Warne switching on his array of headlights on some hapless South Africans and Englishmen. Will probably watch some of the Tests in Australia because I love watching cricket early in the morning. The promise of it all just hooks me. The rest of the day never lives up to it.
Sachin: tell us when you're going. I'm coming too.