Kumble, Dravid and the long goodbyes

There is a subtle but very obvious difference in retiring from cricket, depending on which format of the sport is last.

updated: October 10, 2013 12:13 IST
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It's been five years, but the memory is as fresh as ever. VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly were batting together on the final day of India's third Test against Australia at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, when L Sivaramakrishnan, on air at the time, prefaced his announcement with "Breaking news". You fancied you could hear his throat catch when he spoke the next few words to let the world know that a titan was retiring from cricket. Which was strange because when Siva, once India's premier legspinner, was trying to make his way back into the national side, it was the presence of the man he was eulogising that kept him out. Nobody - legspinner, offspinner, mystery spinner or others - could usurp Anil Kumble's place as the No.1 bowler in the Indian team. And no one has filled the void, even five years after he left the game.

But, he didn't actually leave as a player. After that day (November 2) in Delhi in 2008, Kumble played for Royal Challengers Bangalore in two IPL seasons and one edition of the Champions League Twenty20. It's an effort to remember the match that was technically his final one in senior, competitive cricket. More so because we didn't know then that he wouldn't return as a player in 2011.

Rahul Dravid led a team that was under siege for a while, and Rajasthan Royals became everyone's favourite underdog, which is why his final bow was likely to be more remembered. Then it happened to coincide with Sachin Tendulkar's final outing in Twenty20 cricket. Partly due to the hype generated, and partly due to the stature of the men involved, the build-up to the CLT20 final was all about saying farewell to the legends, as was its aftermath. After all, you don't get to see two legends of the game going out together very often.

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