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Commentator, television presenter and writer

The last we've seen of India's old middle order

Dravid and Laxman will know their time is up. And Tendulkar will go sooner than later too

Harsha Bhogle

February 3, 2012

Comments: 123 | Text size: A | A

Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman walk off the field at the end of the day's play, India v West Indies, 1st Test, 2nd day, Delhi, November 7, 2011
It's unlikely the three will turn out together in a Test again © AFP

The middle of a series is an inopportune time to call for someone's head. A tour selection is like a contract and you must wait to see the term through. Yes, players can be left out, they can be injured, but to ask them to be consigned forever midway through does nobody any good, especially when we talk of players who are part of the game's folklore.

We are not talking of scraps of paper, more like authoritative works of reference. These are players who have given much joy, made you proud to belong. You looked into the distance and imagined them playing for you. It is understandable that you want to linger a while in your assessment, look once more. It must not be so, for sport is meant to be tough, but with the very special, the heart rules. It is never easy to sit in judgement over those whose feet you sat by. Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar are names that will bring a sigh in old age when even the first glass of wine is untouched.

But the series is over, a series that could mark the beginning of a resurgent Australia and an uncertain India. There is no Test cricket for India for a while. It is time to peer into their future, to wonder if a spring will indeed follow this autumn.

Dravid's finest stroke in Australia came in Canberra, where the gentleman, the romantic and the historian in him painted a wonderful canvas of Indian and world cricket. For an hour in Melbourne the bat willed him on. It allowed him the familiar crispness of strokeplay and the power of defence. Then all of a sudden it vanished, and in its place appeared something that looked like one of mine in school. The intent was still there, the work ethic was immaculate, and he practised as hard as before, and harder than some of those around him. But this bat deviated from the pad and those remarkable young Australian bowlers kept finding their way through. It was like they had discovered a pass in an impenetrable mountain.

A year ago Dravid had faced a similar situation and battled through. Five centuries and an astonishing 2011 happened - it was almost like the Dravid of 2002-03 again. You rejoiced for him but this is a relapse and the body is a year older. Thoughts of a life beyond cricket will have become stronger.

As they would have for another extraordinary gentleman and artist. I keep mentioning that for sport needs its performers and its statesmen too. Laxman is as gentle and courteous as they come, and he has done the game an honour by being in it. But the twinkle-toed fencer who could, from a yard and a half outside the crease, hit the same ball from Shane Warne either to midwicket or through cover had long given way to a heavier, more defensive jabber. In his new incarnation of a back-to-the-wall fighter he kept many games alive for India, won some when he was the only one who thought it possible. The ball still left his bat with politeness, but he was having to work harder. It's a cruel thing, sport, because that awareness comes earlier than in most professions.

Both Dravid and Laxman are proud individuals. They will listen to the voice within, for it never lies. It is a voice that is gently telling them to listen to the applause and keep the memories alive. It is showing them a path, not to the middle but to Indian cricket's hall of fame. It is a gallery they will embellish, a place they can take their children to with pride and notice other fathers pointing them out to their children. This is a good time for both, friends and artists, to sign off their final work and begin another chapter, where doubtlessly their contribution will be invaluable.

Soon it will be time too to ask one of the greatest of the modern era what his thoughts for the future are. Two batsmen, both answering to the name of Sachin Tendulkar, turned up for this series. The first was a free-scoring colossus who made you gasp with the purity of his strokeplay, the second was someone who carried a tent with him and chose to go within for long periods. The second frequently cannibalised the first and that was the pity of it all because it was the first who left you in awe, who had brought memories of another day to the Don. So which Tendulkar will the rest of 2012 showcase? If it is the second, there is an element of the finite to it all; if the first vanquishes its current captor, then who knows!

If there was another such tour coming up it would have been time for the selectors to invite Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni for a cup of coffee too. But with two years of international cricket on the subcontinent, maybe that meeting can be deferred for a while, but not for too much longer.

The next time India play a Test match, the middle order will have a different look to it. That is the way of the world. Another flower must bloom, another boy must become a man.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

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Posted by amdset on (February 6, 2012, 18:17 GMT)

Harsha you are above this. Although I loved these three (SRT, the Wall and VVS) it is time, really time to move on. Get in new blood. Though i must admit that it would not hurt to see a player score that mighty 100th ton!!! WOW

Posted by Biophysicist on (February 6, 2012, 6:55 GMT)

@bks123: Tendulkar may have looked great while batting in Australia, whereas Dravid and Laxman might not have looked convincing. Despite having a bad series down under, Dravid has scored much better in the last one year than Tendulkar. What is the point in saying that X has looked great while batting, if he has not scored enough runs in three successive series? One bad series is understandable, but not three! After all you contribute to winning tests by making runs when needed and not by making just a few great looking strokes. In that respect, Dravid contributed exceptionally in England, despite being the victim of three bad decisions. After the series in South Africa, Tendulkar's performance has not risen above average. Since then he played 11 tests without a century. Now tell me who should be dropped, Dravid or Tendulkar? As noted by KarachiKid, may be everyone wants him to continue to get that meaningless 100th Intl. 100!

Posted by KarachiKid on (February 5, 2012, 20:15 GMT)

@Biophysicist: the reason no one is after Sachin is because India wants to see him score his 100th 100 come what may. Once he achives that, I think he himself will throw in the towel.

Posted by Wooster1 on (February 5, 2012, 1:23 GMT)

I'm bored by all this retirement talk. Many greats have moved on with much less fanfare. Time to move on.

Posted by bks123 on (February 5, 2012, 1:08 GMT)

@Biophysicist...I guess you have only watched the score card and have not watched the recent matches live. Dravid had a huge gap between bat and pad while defending. If not getting bowled he is poking outside off unlike the dravid we knew. And the way laxman is batting says it all. We know that he is a back-foot player and his failure in ENG was expected in shimming and swinging conditions. But his batting in australian bouncy tracks where there is not much lateral movement was unexpected and the few runs he scored were scratchy to say the least. And then laxman is the worst fielder the world cricket has at the moment. He can't field anywhere except in slips. The number of catches dropped by laxman and dravid in last one year may double the number they had in their entire career. To add to that laxman is the worst runner between the wickets. He converts 3s to 2s and 4s to 3s while batting and does exactly the opposite while fielding. With all oldies our fielding side lacks energy.

Posted by Nampally on (February 5, 2012, 0:44 GMT)

A fine summary of the 3 great cricketers who are on the verge of retirement. All people great & small must retire from their careers some day be it a film star , a cricketer, a politician or a pilot.All we can say to these 3 is thanks for your great contributions to the Indian cricket & you will be in the Hall of fame.They certainly left indellible memories and were classy sportsmen - brought lot of character & personality by their very presence. India has to plan ahead and get replacements for these greats which do not crop up overninght.It will be sad to lose them but just like our life, nobody is here for ever. Who will step into their big shoes - Kohli, R.Sharma, Pujara, M.Tiwary & Raina? .As you rightly say boys become men and learn to handle responsibility. India is rich in cricket culture and is bound to produce another Tendulkar soon. My salutations & farewell to 3 Legends who made India proud & made it #1 Test team during their tenure.May you continue to enjoy family life!

Posted by KingOwl on (February 4, 2012, 16:58 GMT)

Let them play a home test on a flat track, make a big score, which they will, have the fans appreciate them one last time, and then arrange them to retire. That's how it would have been done in SL, I think. I think that would work in India too.

Posted by   on (February 4, 2012, 16:34 GMT)

It just shows individual glory and past performance is the barometer for selection of indian team. I think India needs radical change in its team selection bcoz firstly there is too much cricket and frankly it seems cricketers are more interested in earning big moneys than playing cricket.

Posted by alimeer on (February 4, 2012, 14:03 GMT)

Good one harsha it was really touching..... life goes like that...the one who has come has to leave the stage....please let them decide when they want to leave they are the true servant of indian cricket..Please do not treat them as we traet DADA.India should be proud to have dravid

Posted by Anand_Nandakumar on (February 4, 2012, 12:47 GMT)

What a fantastic article - really echoes the sentiments of millions of cricket lovers in India. I hope the future is bright for India in tests.

Posted by a1234s on (February 4, 2012, 11:36 GMT)

I feel for Dravid. He has been good for India. But clearly he has declined the most amongst the three. His batting has been error prone, his reflexes have slowed down. This has affected his batting and also his slip fielding. Talk of making Dravid a temp captain is utter garbage. If acb can drop s.waugh why can't bcci drop Dravid? Laxman should be next and then tendulkar. And this should happen fast, before the end of the year.

Posted by B.C.G on (February 4, 2012, 10:28 GMT)

ame boring stuf as usual.This must be the billionth article about the flab 3.When legends like Border,Kapil,Warne,etc. retired how many articles were there?When Ambrose,M Marshall played their final games,no mention of it was made anywhere;not even a slight note in Wisden.Then I felt like crying;as everyone had forgotten about them & they retired when they still had something in the tank.This is a sport I thought,not some living being getting slaughtered.So OK let the 3 play in the team forever & ever & ever.Laxman may score approx. 1 speechsapping stroke per innings,Dravid will nurdle & nudge like a mermaid & Tendo will keep on looking good for a big one without achieving it.India's virtual(looking good for)score will be 1000-5 & the real score will be 10-5.Top 5 has to go.

Posted by   on (February 4, 2012, 6:36 GMT)

The man writes so beautifully. :')

Posted by Biophysicist on (February 4, 2012, 6:35 GMT)

Most of the comments here say that Sachin should be allowed to continue, but Laxman's days are over. Many also say that even Dravid should go, but Tendulkar should be continued. If you look at the performance during the last 12 months, Dravid had a great year (despite the poor performance in the last test series in Aus) scoring 1225 runs including 5 centuries and 4 fifties in 14 tests with an average of 51.04. Corresponding figures for Tendulkar and Laxman are: SRT: 11 tests, 778 runs, 0 centuries, 6 fifties, avg 37.04. VVS: 14 tests, 878 runs, 1 century, 7 fifties, avg 36.58. While Dravid is head and shoulders above the other two, there is almost nothing to separate Tendulkar and Laxman. Then, why is that there is such hue and cry to drop Laxman (by almost every one), whereas practically nobody says the same about Tendulkar. If you look at all crisis situations, you will find more instances of Laxman bringing India to wins from 'almost lost' position than did Tendulkar!

Posted by   on (February 4, 2012, 5:01 GMT)

Bowling & strategy problems are more critical than batting.........Aus won bcz they came up with stump to stump bowling strategy while keeping attacking fields on leg side too...............In batting needs to put up a rotation policy for at least Laxman, Dravid, Dhoni, Sehwag...........................

Posted by   on (February 4, 2012, 4:52 GMT)

Finally India has won a T20 abroad...................Has it been won through exceptional batting ?? ...... Pak is winning a lot recently ....That too not attributed to great batting.................The same English team that was mounting loads and loads of scores against IND, all of a sudden became a below avg batting unit against Pk ......Pk is and was never a great batting unit yet still wins ..................WHY DO TEAMS WIN ??.....................Teams win and mount big scores bcz opposition balls badly. Opposition either don't have fire power in bowling to threaten batting, opposition hasn't done HW on batsmen, or opposition do not attack stumps enough................Batting is a problem if someone has developed a permanent weakness like Dravid getting always bold bcz of gate b/w bat & pad, Laxman getting too lazy bcz of age, Sehwag not interested in batting at all, Dhoni not interested in Tests........Only such batting problems need to be addressed seriously.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (February 4, 2012, 4:33 GMT)

I never understand the Indian love affair with Irfan Pathan. Yes he was brilliant when he first came out, but so was Ajantha Mendis, but he's not that great now. Maybe taking a hat trick against Pakistan achieves this effect

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (February 4, 2012, 4:31 GMT)

Sehwag needs to be cut out. Hitting triple centuries on flat decks doesn't neccessarily mean he is a class batsman. His overseas records speak for that

Posted by AtticusFinch on (February 4, 2012, 3:34 GMT)

I wonder why everybody doesnt mention Tendulkar in the same breath of Dravid and VVS in the retirement conundrum. Methinks Tendulkar should be the first who should be asked to move on. He is a liability in more than one sense, dragging down the entire team in seach of his elusive 100 for one. These three have contributed enormously and needs to be told or asked to leave in dignity rather than being dropped. Dhoni, Gambhir, Sehwag and Ishant dont deserve to wear the Indian Cap anymore. But I doubt if any of these will actually happen. Can Tendulkar retire even if he wants to? Can Dhoni and Gambhir be dropped?? Doubtful. Market Forces decide.

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (February 4, 2012, 3:28 GMT)

We, Indian cricket fans, request BCCI to get rid of the Big3 NOW. There's no need to give them a farewell test series. They lost that chance by not retiring on their own. They were partly (some would say primarily) responsible for India's humiliation at the hands of England and Australia. As Imran Khan mentioned - 10dulkar should have retired on a high after winning the World cup in 2011.

Posted by Dolci on (February 4, 2012, 3:24 GMT)

I also agree with SamRoy.

The so called great indian batsmen are NOT that great, have never been that great and probably never will be. Give the Indian batsmen a flat pitch and perfect conditions and they are unbelievable. As soon as the pitch and or the conditions gets tough they fall apart so quickly.

I dont understand why people (including Hasha) are soley pointing at India's batting. Their bowling is below average, fielding is also terrible and tactics - do they have any tactics ?.

History shows us that when India plays overseas they loose almost all the time - In my opinion there has always been something seriously wrong with indian cricket for a long time now, and until the problems are addressed India will never consistently win overseas. Compare the away from home performances of the so called great India players and compare that with other players when playing away from home and you will see that they are average.

Posted by AvidCricFan on (February 4, 2012, 2:23 GMT)

Instead of looking for replacement of RD, SRT, VVS, India need to look for replacement of the top six and two bowlers in the tests. ZK is also aging fast. While he may have bowled well compared to Ishant and Yadav, he was nowhere close to Aussie bowlers. Yadav is also a big liability in fielding. India's opening pair is pathetic for the last two plus years. If the strategy is to remake the team, selectors should look at finding replacements for Shewag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Dhoni, Zaheer, and Ishant Sharma. When you have such a large number of non or marginal performers, it shouldn't surprise any one.

Posted by CricketChat on (February 4, 2012, 1:55 GMT)

Harsha, I can understand why you tried your best to rationalize why these 3 former greats should realize their time is up, i.e., not to hurt the emotional Ind fans. I am surprised that of all people, Dravid, didn't realize it and announce retirement right after 3rd test itself. I for one. thought he based his game and mind on logic and admit I got it wrong. It is pitiful that these giants are trying to cling on to their place in the test side and am sure lost lots of sympathy already for their predicament. The only way I see is, that Selectors announce that they want to move on with youngsters. May be that will force these players to retire with some grace still!.

Posted by   on (February 4, 2012, 1:45 GMT)

retire or continue is the decision to be taken by individual though selecting and resting decision is of a group let each one do ones job.

Posted by spin_king4 on (February 3, 2012, 23:40 GMT)

once again an obsessoin with age by an indian journalist without hrdly a mention on the real failures in the test team I agree that laxmans time is up you coud see it on his face in adelaide, that he knew it was over and if we look at the last year he hasn't preformed. But before we mention SRT and RD, we have too look at the even worse failures. THE OPENERS, have not preformed and put together substantial partnerships or individual scores home or away for over a year, sehwag has lost all footwort and patience and should be dropped imediattly, so should gambhir who has looked woefull against bounce outside his offstump. They should be replaced by rahane and mukund. Also it is time ishant is shown the door, it is not good enough to be economicall, he has to go and we must improve in our domestic scene how we groom young fast bowlers. To RD he had one bad series but given his last year it is too early to write him off but let him play and if he wants to retire he can on his own time.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (February 3, 2012, 23:28 GMT)

@indianpunter. Thank you & Dravid_G for your comments. I am certainly interested in Indian cricket & cricket round the world. As a youngster it was once all about my side winning, but as the years roll by I am more & more concerned about cricket per se beyond any narrow nationalistic interest. Of course, I still want to see England win, but I'd rather see a great game and England lose than a walkover Eng.victory that often breeds an unbecoming arrogance in supporters that does them and the team no credit. Proper sportsmanship, (and that doesn't exclude a bit of sharp needle, so long as it is kept in decent & humorous bounds); respect for the opposition; dignifed behaviour (thus my admiration for Dravid & Sangakarra, for e.g.) as well as high skill & character (when the going gets tough, etc.) and above all, a reverence for the game, that is greater than any player, any team, or any country:these things I hold dear, for in the end we all love the same game & inhabit the same planet.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (February 3, 2012, 22:59 GMT)

@Dravid_Gravitas, I hope that you and all Indians of the same mind have your wish granted and that you see Rahul Dravid & VVS one more time playing in India. It's unusual for cricketers of great note to finish their careers on a tour(though Bradman was a notable exception), so perhaps you can be optimistic. The endings of great careers gives a chance for the fans to express their goodbyes to their heroes (& vice versa) and perhaps they should be flagged up, but the emotional strain on the player(s) concerned can be enormous. Even Bradman, as business-like and as cold as steel as it's possible to be, was said to have had a tear in his eye as Yardley's Eng. side cheered him to the wicket @Oval in'48, before Yardley shook Don's hand.That's why he failed to read Hollies' 2nd ball! Sport is nothing if it is not great theatre & cricket can do this better than the rest because of its formality and understood conventions, besides being played by men whose respect for the game overrides all.

Posted by rtriz on (February 3, 2012, 22:58 GMT)

I am a true admirer of sachin as Imran said he should have retired on a world cup high and forget about the 100 100's even if he gets a hundred now it will be too little too late, Id rather remember the Tendulkar who on every foreign tour (be India good or bad) u had him scoring flowing hundreds in every series every where. If he had chosen to retire after the world cup he was averaging nearly 60 in tests and I would say even the great don would have trouble maintaining that average over 140+ tests, now his average has slumped to 55 still great but I remember to many Asian batsmen with exception of Gavasker who would not retire and thus pound their career average, recent examples are Inzamam dropped from 53 to 49, Miandad dropped from 56 to 52, Vishvanath, Ganguly, Zaheer Abbas.

For me Its just un thinkable that the little master could not score a century in 8 tests abroad at the twilight of his career, I simply did not wish to see this happen to such a great batsman.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 22:54 GMT)

I'm highly privileged to say that I was born in the same era of these 3 greats and lest we forget a certain Mr Ganguly and a Mr. Kumble. These 5 guys have been around for more than a past decade and despite most people of the current generation have used various negative words to describe Test Matches and "boring" being one of them, I've adored watching the Indian team fight across those 5 days and its been an amazing journey watching our 'heroes'. No matter what happens from now, they will still be legends.

Take a bow RD, SRT & VVS !!!

Posted by S.Jagernath on (February 3, 2012, 22:44 GMT)

Why should Dhoni & Sehwag be retained if there is no promise of success away from the sub-continent?India should drop all the underachiever & those that have aged & select the top performers at first class.A gradual shift is a waste of time,India are not doing well enough to afford the luxury of a gradual change to the younger players.Players like Ishant Sharma,M.S Dhoni,Virender Sehwag & Gautam Gambhir need to be left out,they struggled on fast surfaces which makes them disposable as all the young batsmen can perform equally,if not better in India.Rahul Dravid & Sachin Tendulkar have become legendary batsmen but unfortunately have aged,which means the successors must take over.VVS Laxman was a very good performer but is now just a liability in a team aiming for the top.With young bowling & batting talent available,India have no reason to keep inconsistent cricketers.

Posted by Freewheeler on (February 3, 2012, 22:18 GMT)

As someone correctly pointed out, the elephant in the room was the Indian openers' dismal failure in getting the team off to a good start. If only they had played the first hour of a test match without losing a wicket, the result would have been 2-0 rather than 4-0. Once the vaunted triumvirate, and possibly MSD, retire from test cricket, my test team will be: Rahane/Gambhir, Dinesh Karthik (W), Cheteshwar Pujara, Virender Sehwag/Badrinath, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma/Manoj Tiwary, Ravindra Jadeja/PP Ojha, Irfan Pathan, Ravi Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav. A solid lower middle batting order of Jadeja, Pathan, and Ashwin will be more than enough to bail India out of trouble should the top order fail. With Pujara, Kohli, Rohit, Badrinath, Tiwary, and Jadeja the fielding will be top notch. Moreover, we will have two left arm medium pacers, one genuine quickie, an offspinner, and a left arm orthodox spinner in the playing 11. Ishant, Praveen Kumar, and Saha as reserves.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 21:38 GMT)

I think the trio deserve to leave on their own terms. I think India's issue is not there batting but there bowling. Zaheer is going to breakdown anytime, Ishant sure does not look like a veteran of 40+ tests, Im not too convinced with Varun, Yadav, the kumars, Sreesanth, Ashwin, Pathan etc. Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar, will be replaced by Kohli, Pujara, Rahane, Tiwary and co ofcourse not in the same class and it will take them time to establish themself but the issue is the bowling.

Posted by anilkp on (February 3, 2012, 21:25 GMT)

A great deal of wisdom was in display when Naseer Hussain called it a day, citing other talents neding exposure. Sanath kept dragging, even after becoming a parliamentarian (and should be rather focusing on the policymaking for his country, his people, working for his electorates' well-being), scoring odd 5-10 runs. Was it not ugly, when talented players waitid for their turn? The Indian trio has achieved all one cricketer can dream of: cult figure, respect world-over, fans, runs, centuries, statistics...Why are they clinging on to the brach still? What more they want? Why must not let a Rohit or Manoj or someone test themselves? If they are so passionate about playing cricket, why they are not going back to domestic cricket and impart invaluable experience to the young locals and enrich, envigorate the local pool of talents, something that Sourav is doing? We cannot be sure how successful Ganguly is, but that is the way to show your passion for the game, not by blocking the path. Cont

Posted by anilkp on (February 3, 2012, 21:15 GMT)

Harsha (and many others), you all missed a few significant points. I too respect this trinity of Indian batting, and am proud of--as are a billion others. However, two 10 away Tests, 2 white-washes is too much a span for any "average player in the national team" to not shine even once (RSD is excluded for his English summer). This is too much for the fans, including me, to bear. This tells that the time is actually up for them to go. Your point, that RSD had similar period before 2011 and had a wonderful year afterwards is valid only momentarily. They are aging, they may still have a spark or two to display; but what is the team or the nation gaining from that? More chances to them means no exposure for the young bench-warmers. And when the all three are gone at once, the hurricanes will sweep away the inexperienced middle order. Where is the wisdom of gradual transition in Indian cricket? Contd...

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 20:47 GMT)

after performing good in tri-nation series we will see this flop old middle order in homes series against newzealand with scoring runs in totally dead surface.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 19:12 GMT)

If Sachin scores a century in first one day against Australia, every one will start talking about his class. You can come up with as many theories as you want but those BIG THREE know lot better than all of those who are commenting here. Sachin was asked by many to retire 3-4 years back and every one knows what did after that. Same is the case with Dravid. I dont think any one of us here have the the genius to question those greats.......

Posted by TRAM on (February 3, 2012, 19:00 GMT)

Whenever SRT misses a century, it is a good omen and India wins, but if he completes the century India loses the match. Extending the same superstition to higher level, SRT should retire now or be dropped (miss his 100th 100) for India to succeed.

Posted by MiddleStump on (February 3, 2012, 18:50 GMT)

What middle order? Dravid was practically opening the innings since the highest partnership was 26 and it came in the last test! Tendulkar also had to bat within the first hour of every innings. India can turn their attention to the middle order after they fix their major disorder - their two star openers, one who wants to move down and another who wants to open on turning pitches (don't laugh). Please BCCI, have that coffee talk with Sehwag, Gambhir and Dhoni before anything else.

Posted by mowgliworld on (February 3, 2012, 18:49 GMT)

Harsha, While I agree they might retire, if you look at averages since Mar, 2011. Dravid is at 46, Sacin at 37 LAxman 36 and the wannabe's all less than 26. Sehwag, Gambhir, Dhoni, Kohli are all in 22-28 range...

So your article and Team India are basing decisions on the wrong factors. The better way to do it is to try 1 new player per series give him a run. We have 1 Kohli, maybe Rohit and Pujara in next series?

Why persist with Gambhir, Dhoni who clearly have no technique to play overseas?

Posted by indianpunter on (February 3, 2012, 18:26 GMT)

@Nutcutlet, as on most occasions, i agree with you completely. For an englishman, you do have a keen eye on Indian cricket.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (February 3, 2012, 17:32 GMT)

@Nutcutlet, your comments and ideas for BCCI are very well appreciated. You don't have to be sorry. You didn't barge in at all my dear friend. But you just made me cry more with your (in your face) post. Please guys, please stop this talk. Many Indians are begging our BCCI to give Dravid and VVS one last chance so that we can say goodbye to them in India. It's like sudden demise of two family members for many of us; if they don't turn up again for India in whites, all of a sudden. This 'sudden demise' will be a heartbreak for the toughest of men to come to grips with and I'm no different and millions like me are no different. And above all, Dravid failed only in one series. Whatever happened after those majestic two hours in Melbourne, Dravid didn't look the same. Alas!!Gutted..sadness beyond any reasonable explanation..cricinfo and its writers have caused me grief, in just one month in 2012, that would be sufficient for a life-time. No shame in saying again and again that I'm crying..

Posted by majesticmaniac on (February 3, 2012, 17:18 GMT)

Best Test Team : Gambhir, D.Karthik (W), Pujara, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Kohli (C), Rohit, I.Pathan, Ashwin, Zaheer, Yadav

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 16:08 GMT)

My top 6 player for the next test wherever India plays are Gamvir, Rahane ,Virat ,Sachin(?),Shewwag,Rohit.As we play our next series in India that should be Ten dulkars last season.And one more thing if Sachin plays in one dayers the fielding will not be the same as today we saw from them.

Posted by Saad.Anwar on (February 3, 2012, 16:07 GMT)

Excellent Article Harsha! These three went under immense pressure throughout the series, it seems (this season) people forget how vital they are not only for Indian cricket but for the game. I idolized Sachin since my childhood and it will be really hard for me to see him signing off.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 15:53 GMT)

Memory is fickle. Public memory more so.It would indeed be foolhardy to wax eloquent on the innumerable hours of joy the trio has conjured for the cricket loving public of India.Even in the recent past in England one saw the doughty resurgence of the Wall and the smooth artistry of Very very special Laxman. Time is indeed a cruel arbiter but he canot be denied his due. Bhogle's piece is an eloquent catch up with the reality and one can only wistfully recall all the wonderful years gone by , culminating in No 1 Status in Tests for India. As years roll the magic of the moment may pass by but the delicate fragrance will remain etched indelibly in the minds of the fans.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

Dravid is the most sound batsmen india has ever produced. I feel there is some more cricket left in him,but sachin and Laxman is a burden to the team

Posted by RKB21 on (February 3, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

It is completely unfair to blame the series loss on these 3 batsmen and thus make a case for their retirement. They have won more test matches for India than any of their predecessors (Sachin has been on the winning side in one-third of the test matches he has played). India just cannot produce 3 quality wicket-taking bowlers in any one team. You can look at Australia or Pakistan or even England and see bowlers hunting as a pack of wolves for wickets. The second test between England and Pakistan was a classic example of defending a low score and winning. Plus, to this day, India has not been able to replace Ganguly with a player who could show as much grit and determination as he did. What are the chances that India would replace the 3 great batsmen with 3 players with half as much talent.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 15:27 GMT)

It is only in india that this bashing of senior cricketers goes on unabated if they manage to fail.look at australia they have got ponting,hussey and haddin over 35.ponting came out of a lean patch and made runs.a few months only Dravid scored for india and yet people unashamedly call for his head.By the way no indian team whether young or old has ever done well in australian conditions which help pace and bounce.Age is just a number.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 14:44 GMT)

That was a beautiful piece of writing Harsha! I admire your work on ABC radio, but now I have a second forum with which to subscribe to your wisdom. Keep it coming!

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (February 3, 2012, 14:29 GMT)

On top of their poor batting, the Big 3 were leaking runs, and dropping catches in the field. Confine the Big 3 to a museum. Those dinosaurs need to spend a few Nights at the Museum with Ben Stiller.

Posted by ZQ23 on (February 3, 2012, 13:56 GMT)

This article made me laugh. It is so over the top!! Seems like harsha is also going down the Sidhu route!!

Posted by rohanbala on (February 3, 2012, 13:52 GMT)

Excellent analysis by Harsha Bhogle. We missed your coverage in the recently concluded test series in Australia, instead we were subjected to the torture of listening to Wasim Akram who used the word 'especially' umpteen number of times during the series.

Posted by rajbal on (February 3, 2012, 13:39 GMT)

It is such a sad end to the career of the three batting greats. They along with ganguly, shewag and kumble shaped the indian team to a dominant force in tests. Its unfortunate that they could not end their remarkable careers on a high. India's flawed selection has made sure that none of the new generation batsmen except kohli seems to be ready for taking over their spots. badrinath who had displayed better tecnique was overlooked for yuvraj and raina. Hope that pujara and rohit sharma are done with their flirt with injuries . If dhoni forsees no future for him as a test player drop him and play parthiv patel who is defenitely a better prospect & fighter in longer version. How about bringing back Hrishikesh Kanitakar as skipper. I think he was unfairly dropped after the 1999 Aus Tour. Taking rajasthan to two Ranji titles deserves some acknowledgement ,right? Isn't it worth a risk?

Posted by ironmonkey on (February 3, 2012, 13:31 GMT)

Heh. So Harsha Bhogle has also joined the silly media lynching of Dravid et al. The same was done to Ponting (last year), Dravid (3 years ago), Tendulkar (5 years ago), Shane Warne (9 years ago), etc. etc. Don't these journalists ever learn? What a pathetic way to make a living if all you do is stamp on people when they are down. Why not wait for them to retire with honour and then glorify their achievements? Just to sell a few articles and make a quick buck?

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (February 3, 2012, 13:12 GMT)

Totally agree with @indianpunter - India produces legends, while other countries produce match winners. We don't need these legends - they can go open a museum where their fans can still watch them bat (and get bowled by rookies). We need fighters like Virat Kohli and Yuvraj. There's no shortage of talent in India. it's time to GET RID OF BIG3 NOW. They are blocking the way for youngsters.

Posted by AsherCA on (February 3, 2012, 13:01 GMT)

G-Wyll - if the oldies use as much media pressure as possible to hold on to their positions in the batting line-up, where is the place for new-comers to come & perform ? If India have to lose a few games as we go, the right thing for Indian Cricket would have been to at least rotate these oldies so that 2 of 3 play, giving an opportunity for one more youngster to learn some tricks from these guys on field....but these guys chose to hold on to their positions as a gang even when they could not bat, bowl OR field on the field of play. Both Dravid & Lakshman have sold their respect, chosen to collect as much money as possible from BCCI for past performances...Great as they WERE, it is difficult to respect such guys. If they want public humiliation before they go, BCCI should oblige.

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (February 3, 2012, 13:00 GMT)

The Big 3 need to go NOW. Yes, they were great in their prime. But now they are past their prime. You don't play test matches to indulge players - you play to win - so that your countrymen can be proud of this team. By losing in this humiliating manner, they also humiliated their country. IF THEY DON"T RETIRE NOW, BCCI SHOULD DROP THEM. They are blocking the way for promising youngsters like Rahane, Rohit, Manoj, Manish, etc. Dravid being a gentleman, will retire on his own. As Imran Khan mentioned - Tendulkar should have retired on a high after winning the World Cup. But knowing his selfishness - he will be the last one to retire.

Posted by InvisiblePJs on (February 3, 2012, 12:52 GMT)

Surely after watching the T20 game in Melbourne tonight & seeing the vitality & energy of the younger generation Indian players, the BCCI must move to revitalise the test team by 'suggesting' the big 3 retire. Not only was their batting not up to standard, their fielding left a lot to be desired and cost India many, many runs during the test series. @ donda, maybe in this instance the media are doing Indian cricket a favour by trying to open the BCCI's eyes - everyone has to finish at some time - sometimes some people just need a bit of a push.

Posted by spinkingKK on (February 3, 2012, 12:37 GMT)

Very well written, Harsha. Particularly the way you said about the two Tendulkars. Also you were right about Sehwag and Dhoni. Maybe you should have added Gambhir to the list as well. Maybe you have left him alone because it was only his first Australian tour and people meant to struggle in Australia. India does need some experience in the line-up in the tests. For that reason, may be we should keep Gambhir and possibily Tendulkar (if he can keep his fitness level ok) for one more series. But, it call comes down to the selectors who shows no imagination and planning. So, the starting point should be to bring back a chairman of selectors who can do a good work like Vengsarkar. His axing of Ganguly was just perfect. But, Sreekanth brought Ganguly back who, in turn, performed well because he knew his position was under threat. That was the turning point. That gave these seniors a sense of security.

Posted by Amit_13 on (February 3, 2012, 12:17 GMT)

The end is near, almost has a foot through the door. I still want one last hurrah from these men, perhaps a few more than one from the Master. The one that comes when the end is in sight and sheer will of champions wills one on to put everything on the line. The one that comes from wisdom; not ability nor strength. I don't know what the middle order will be but atleast one boy has the intent to become that man and to do it on his terms and his expense.

If test cricket is the pinnacle, why does it not earn you the highest amount? Money hasn't been Indian cricket's problem for a while. Stardom has. I worship these men and 2.4.11 will remain the happiest day of this life. That worship was earned long before IPL. They changed the country.. the country will now change the rest. Captain - whoever it may be. Takes 11 to win the game!

Posted by varun2385 on (February 3, 2012, 11:32 GMT)

Brillant article Mr. Harsha, but as an Hardcore Indian fan still say the we or India as country is not concentrating on bowlers or bringing up not good bowler but wicket taking bowler specially in test arena . I mean we all are putting the onus on the great indian bowling but how many times do we as bowling unit has dismissed the oppenent let say under 250 in both innings of a test the count would be within a one hand.

Posted by kasyapm on (February 3, 2012, 11:13 GMT)

Beautiful article. And I really hoped for a fitting farewell to each of them - Dravid bowing out after and England (2011)-like series, VVS retiring after a 80 or 90 which is invaluable in the context of the game and winning a game for India, Sachin after entertaining us for one complete series the way he did in 90s. Alas, that was not to be. Still noping they could be handed over a fitting farewell.

Posted by fan2011 on (February 3, 2012, 11:08 GMT)

i am lankan and people please whats this about taking ones head just because he has aged.. to recall Dravid was one of the highest run getters for 2011. Fine he failed in one series, everyone does.. Tendulkar for christ sacks he was the second highest run scorer on this tour.. Laxman well i think his time is up.. India has no one else to come into tendulkar's shoes only kholi seems to be able to take the batting talents of today to tomorrow..

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 10:54 GMT)

"Another flower must bloom, another boy must become a man"

Beautiful Harsha! Fitting tribute to men we can't possibly write enough about

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

Ours was a great batting order till the two overseas disasters.In Australia our batting (dis)order appeared like, 1.Khwab of Najabgarh.2. Gautam (serious) Gambhir.3.The (crumbling) wall.4.(clay footed) God of cricket.5.Very vague silly laxman.6.Not so great Virat.7.Washed out Dho ni.8 Eclipsed Ravi chandra.9.Zahir Kan't.10 I can't Sharma.11.Remember me Yad av.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 10:24 GMT)

It would indeed be sad to see three stalwarts of contemporary Indian Test cricket fade away into the sunset on such a low. It would be worse if the selectors have to drop them. So, the BCCI / Selectors must immediately discuss the present scenario with these senior players to avoid their unceremonious exit from the Test team. Sure, these Big-3 have contributed immensely to the team's fortunes over the years, but it doesn't help Indian cricket if people simply wax eloquent about their past laurels instead of worrying about the future of Indian cricket. Let's hope BCCI shows the courage, like its Australian counterpart, to effect radical systemic changes, no matter how harsh or unpleasant they may seem.

Posted by cloudmess on (February 3, 2012, 10:22 GMT)

Harsha Bhogle writes like Sachin, Rahul and VVS bat. Australia is never a good place to go for ageing reflexes, and I had a feeling Dravid would struggle, and that VVS would completely misplace his timing. Tendulkar still looked convincing, though I think his free-flowing batting was affected by the increasingly dire situations his team found themselves in. If Tendulkar has often been compared to Bradman, Dravid and VVS perhaps bring the elegant classicism of Jack Hobbs to mind. Why not give Dravid and VVS a few years in county cricket now? Hobbs scored more than 100 first class centuries after the age of 40, on England's slower wickets.

Posted by indianpunter on (February 3, 2012, 10:18 GMT)

The writing was on the wall long ago.(pun unintended). about time the trio hung up their boots. Otherwise, face the ignominy of being dropped. India produces legends, a dime a dozen. Other teams produce matchwinners. The dead weight of the seniors have to be chopped off. No emotion here.use plain logic and look ahead. We need to move on.

Posted by G-Wyll on (February 3, 2012, 10:05 GMT)

You must understand, you can only drop players if the younger talent is performing more consistently. At the moment, that can arguably only be Kohli (as Yuvraj has bigger battles to fight), and he is one man. Gambir and Reina are solid and useful, but to remove such proven talent as the three geniuses of Indian batting at once (or at least within a year or so) can only lead to Indian cricket faltering badly. And to be honest, it's faltering badly anyway. Development is the key, not retirements. Indian cricket has some risky cards to play, and my belief is that the hand should have been played years ago. Their reign as worlds best team is very much over, and may not return for generations.

Posted by Romanticstud on (February 3, 2012, 9:42 GMT)

Australia lost Warne, McGrath, Hayden, Langer, S Waugh, M Waugh, Gilchrist and others and hav now got a young side. SL have lost Jayasuriya, Murilitheran and Vaas, and also have a young side. Pakistan lost a few players, some in bad circumstances and have a young side. South Africa had to say goodbye to Donald, Pollock, Ntini, Kirsten, Klusener and Gibbs. The current greats ... Kallis, Ponting, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman ... are reaching the end of their careers ... There will be other greats in the future ... Hopefully a batsman to challenge a Bradman's average with the flair of the First Mr Tendulkar ... And a bowler that can challenge Muri's 800 mark ... Maybe an allrounder that can challenge in both departments.

Posted by Sudhey on (February 3, 2012, 9:38 GMT)

Wish you would've told us something we didn't already know ...

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 9:32 GMT)

Harsh..May be even you should think of retirement and letting new people who can comment considering all the facts..

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (February 3, 2012, 9:06 GMT)

Nutcutlet, you snatched the words out of my mouth.

Posted by rnarayan on (February 3, 2012, 8:51 GMT)

Beautifully written, as always, Harsha. No doubt the Australia series was a disaster, and no doubt these great players are nearing the end. BUT.. in 2011, Dravid scored 1200+ runs at an average of 57, Tendulkar 750+ at 47. and Laxman nearly 800 at 41. Those are decent figures by comparison to any batsman in the world (Dravid no1 and Laxman no7 in the aggregates for the year). None of the other Indian batsman managed an average of 30, despite being given plenty of chances. Perhaps they are not as good as they were, but they are still good. Apart from the aggregate, Laxman's average compares with Hussey, Jayawardene, Trott, Morgan; better than Clarke, and way better than Strauss or Ponting, Gambhir or Sehwag. So lets take a deep breath. I'd say give them another series..

Posted by big_al_81 on (February 3, 2012, 8:47 GMT)

Dravid is a true great. I don't get the Laxman thing although I think I'm beginning to gradually. He's played tons of Tests and has 17 centuries with an awful conversion rate from 50 to 100. The number of players who have better records than him in Tests is truly enormous BUT I think I'm beginning to learn that there are 2 things that people love about him and lead to this kind of article. His elegance and his record against Australia (which is now MUCH worse than it was!). Cricket should be about more than records but there have been many players just as elegant down the years and a number of players who would only raise their game against the best. Laxman was a very good player who will never be considered close to great anywhere but India. The entire current England top order for instance (Trott excepted!) have better records than him already and will finish their careers way ahead, Bell is just as elegant. No-one ought to be putting them in the all-time great category yet!

Posted by Nutcutlet on (February 3, 2012, 7:52 GMT)

Lots of purple prose here, Harsha! I can see the tears being wiped away by the writer as he composed this, just as I hear the stifled sobs of the Indian fans as they read his words, liberally strewn with vivid images of closure and natural decay. I, however, am not Indian. Nonetheless, I am sorry to see Dravid leave the stage - to me, he of the three has retained most dignity, and I hope he goes on to give the game the benefit of his wisdom in the corridors of the BCCI for they have much need of someone who can see the bigger picture and has absolute integrity that is recognised and respected throughout the cricketing world. I hope his life's work begins a new chapter in this vital direction. Sorry if I have intruded on national grief, but the time for India to move on has, in all honesty, been long overdue.

Posted by thianavi on (February 3, 2012, 7:48 GMT)

Yes, there aren't enough articles discussing the end of the Indian middle order.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 7:43 GMT)

Harsha u write really magically and every words have poetic sense in it.Gr8

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 7:39 GMT)

Very beautifully, poetically written.. For people like me who have grown up watching Sachin and matured watching RD and VVS, its hard to imagine cricket without these legends.. But every beginning has an ending.. They have dominated the cricket for a while now.. But their dominance is ending on field.. They should give up now for the individuals who have taken up cricket because of them.. Its time to say good bye, even though when you go a nation will cry.. :)

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 7:25 GMT)

When every one failed in this series, why fingers pointing on these 3 alone? that too every time I see VVS gets cornered when India fails. He had been wantedly taken out of ODI team when he was at his peak. Coming in middle order his ODI stats from 2001 aussie series is pretty good.. 35+ average with reasonable scores in all games. But he had been axed for no reason and the replacements too faded away...

Posted by donda on (February 3, 2012, 7:16 GMT)

Wow, i totally agree Media can make and break some one career. BCCI is not even thinking about the retirement of these players but Media is like just giving the verdict and already admit that these players are retired.

I want to see this time around, who is more powerful media or BCCI. It's not the time to say good bye to oldies , it's time to say good bye one at a time. Slow down media. Do not make panic in BCCI. Just let it go.

The losses are overseas losses , even england lost to pakistan away. Just stay cool media. stay cool.

Posted by game_on_pk on (February 3, 2012, 7:15 GMT)

Everyone's talking about big boys of indian cricket..nobody is talking about failure of a team which have lost 8 consecutive test matches overseas..Like batsmen failed to score,bowlers failed to strike and captain's failed tactics...Nobody is not even focused about a good bowling allrounder,Everyone is waiting for our Trio to sign off..good very good Mr.Harsha bhogle..Leave it..for me the solution must be is barr youngsters from playing ipl and send them to have a good stint at county circuit and shefield of atleast for a complete season then we can think of rebuilding a team

Posted by Rajesh. on (February 3, 2012, 6:43 GMT)

Just wanna ask one thing.......... Were all these men 3 or 4 years younger in November / December 2011 !?

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 6:36 GMT)

What a finish to the article !!!! Good Work !!!!

Posted by baskar_guha on (February 3, 2012, 6:29 GMT)

Lets leave it for these fine players to decide for themselves. I am certain they wont stay a moment longer than they need to. For all the talk about boys becoming men, the idea that we will naturally have the next generation of great batsmen is pure fantasy. Talking about flowers blooming, there have been so boys and so few men as far as bowling is concerned. Is Harsha or anyone worried about that? Apparently not from what they write. That too me is the real tragedy of Indian cricket -- all offense, no defense.

Posted by stFleming on (February 3, 2012, 6:23 GMT)

yup its now time for these big 3 to retire as soon as they can...they are now burden on indian team....

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 6:18 GMT)

Harsha is being way too polite in this article. I will try to put it more bluntly. Indian sportsmen do not know when to call time. SRT should have retired (at least from ODI's) at the end of the world cup last year. RD could have gone out on a high after a brilliant 2011. But then, as it so often happens in life, hindsight is such a wonderful thing. The only thing which I hope is that these wonderful sportsmen are given a dignified farewell.

Posted by Longmemory on (February 3, 2012, 5:58 GMT)

Its funny but I too felt the first couple of hours of Dravid's batting in the first innings at the MCG was perfection. There was a decisiveness in his footwork, no hesitation in the leaves, and when the ball had to be put away, he did so with panache. It reminded me of the way he had played in England and I thought "all will be well". With Dravid at one-drop and playing with this sort of clarity, the others can build around him. It was stunning then to watch all of it come apart as his innings ended, never to return again. I can't remember another instance where a batsman went from I've-still-got-it to its-time-to-retire in such a short period. Such a beautiful yet cruel game.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 5:57 GMT)

Insightful & nostalgia evoking while continuing to be in the present. this is super writing from Harsha.

Posted by fudgys11 on (February 3, 2012, 5:49 GMT)

If you see the statistics RSD and Tendulkar haven't done as badly as the others and don't deserve to go as yet. Maybe its time for Laxman,though he still gives as much pleasure to eyes as the best. But he walks in with atleast -25 by the time he comes to the crease, due to his horrendous fielding. RSD may have failed this series but deserves one more chance. Maybe we need to look at other liabilities like Sehwag, Dhoni,Zaheer, Gambhir, Ishant and some more who hardly ever contribute and even if they do its once in 20-25 innings. You cannot keep these people only on promise and give them unlimited chances. It has to be performance based selection and not promise based which could be tried for some youngsters who hardly get enough chances since we get Sentimental to drop people. Zaheer for eg, is so overrated though he has done somewhat better than the worst and is a major liability on the field.Even the Attitude of the above mentioned players is that nobody can drop them .

Posted by dsig3 on (February 3, 2012, 5:45 GMT)

They will go down as an example of why players should quit while they are ahead. Warne, McGrath and Langer all quit while in form coming off thumping the English 5 nil. They could of stayed in test cricket for a lot longer but went out together and on top. It will be unfortunate if India do not get a chance to send them off on a high at home.

Posted by RohanBhalerao on (February 3, 2012, 5:44 GMT)

Can anybody write so beautifully? I thought the tribute Christian Ryan gave a couple of days back was the best I have read. But Harsha! Ohhh.. Harsha!!! I AM SO GLAD I READ CRICINFO articles! This is beyond the words "poetic" and "brilliant" can depict.

From the 2nd para, I had tears rolling down my face.. And for the first time, I didn't care I was crying like a baby in front of someone.

You say Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar are names that will bring a sigh in old age when even the first glass of wine is untouched. What I will say is EVEN TODAY, my age is 25 by the way, these names BRING A SIGH without any intoxication. And I cannot explain to people around me, what these names and cricket, in particular, means to me.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 5:40 GMT)

While there is no doubt that the middle order has not performed well in Australia (although Dravid did magnificently in England, which is unfortunately forgotten without mention), I am surprised to see why the same stance is not taken in respect of our openers, who have barely put in a stand worth mentioning. Instead, the talk is about how Sehwag and Gambhir might find a place in the middle order, after there are 'vacancies'. Pray, why should such consideration be shown to the openers? They were brought in as openers. If they fail, they have to fight for a spot in the middle order (versus the existing trio of Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman, and the new contenders - Kohli et al). The failure of the opening stand consistently (particularly in tests abroad) is at least as significant, if not more than the middle order.

Posted by NeerajSharma54 on (February 3, 2012, 5:36 GMT)

Nice article Harsha...especially the last 2 statements "Another flower must bloom, another boy must become a man." I think these message should be taken by the young guns of India who are in the waiting list like Pujara, Rohit, Virat etc but we will have a tough task to do bcoz so far we are not able to get replacement of sourav ganguly how can we replace the other 3 biggies?? I think , I will go with replacement of Dravid/Laxman/Sachin with Pujara/Rohit/Kohli.I think to fill the vacant place of ganguly in subcontinent matches we should try Ravindra Jadeja also in the test matches. he has pretty good record having double & triple century in Ranji & he is much more handy in bowling in subcontinent. But these changes should be done after the voluntary retirement of Sach,Dravid n laxman.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 5:35 GMT)

Dear Harsha, This was one of the best articles on the series that I have read. Hats off to you. Every single word was worth of gold. The problem I have seen with all the Indian batsmen is they seem to have forgotten how to bat. Not the technique that is, but, the art of building an innings, a partnership. Arguably, these 3 men were the finest the world has seen in quarter of a century with mammoth partnerships to their names. But, how can they appear to have forgotten to build an innings. It all then boils down to the amount of time spent in domestic cricket, especially test match cricket. Since the advent of IPL, our international cricketers are going through a workload that doesn't allow them to play any domestic tournament. I believe the same logic applies to the other members of the team, be it be Sehwag or Dhoni or Gambhir. With a lean Test match schedule, I see a great opportunity for the soon to be Indian Test side. Time to pick and grill them on two seasons of domestic circuit

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 5:27 GMT)

An article talking about three artists written by another literary artist...brilliant, especially the last line!!

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 5:26 GMT)

Wonderful article by one of India's finest!!!

Posted by OffStumpLine on (February 3, 2012, 5:22 GMT)

Having grown up watching these legends play, it is all too easy to get overtly sentimental. But I guess it is time! We must move on. And so must these 3! We must not wait for 'someone who can fill their shoes'. These are shoes that will not be easily filled and we need to blood our youngsters and give them time. We might need to be patient with them - possibly for extended periods, but the time for change is now. I have no doubts in my mind that we will find someone who'll raise their hands and be counted. The next time India play a test match, I would rather see them be competitive than seeing the 3 once-the-backbone-of-Indian-middle-order walk out together! If this can be made possible with them not being there, then so be it. We also need to understand however, that this one step is not the panacea for all that ails Indian cricket. We need to look at cricket at all levels - starting from the junior/schools and need change at all levels. Do hope it happens!

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 5:17 GMT)

I totaly believe wat u said Harsha ,. Another flower must bloom, another boy must become a man.

Posted by Realhotshady on (February 3, 2012, 5:07 GMT)

Why is Harsha pointing finger to only 3 senior guys? The whole team did not perform. Why not throw Gambhir and Sehwag out of the team? Why not make Dhoni only an ODI specialist? What has Dhoni done in last 2 years in test cricket to prove he belongs there? If you throw seniors out at the moment, then new guys will come and play test in easy Indian pitches and can make their mark but can you take a new team to Australia and England and compete? I think new guys should be given enough exposure to the pitches outside subcontinent by including them in A team first. The senior guys should be given one more opportunity and they should be made clear that if you fail this time, its over. And it should be same for other members as well including Sehwag, Gambhir and Dhoni..

Posted by Gabbagod on (February 3, 2012, 5:02 GMT)

A brilliant piece by the World's best cricket journalist. A great positive way to explain the torment that Rahul and VVS must be going through and to a lesser extent, Sachin. All 3 have been the reson that Indian batting has become so admired here in Australia and the rest of the World I am sure - so admired that even in our era of dominance we were always afraid of Indias batting strength - just ask Shane Warne. From our perspective, we never wanted our guys to retire : Hayden, Langer, Gilchrist, McGrath, Warne, but we knew that one day it had to happen. In R Sharma, Kohli, Tiwary, Bist and Saha, Indian cricket has a very bright future if it accepts the inevitable. However, Tendulkar MUST stay - tutoring them in batting, temperament, media and all those extras that make being a Test cricketer more than being good at the game.

Posted by Rajiv007 on (February 3, 2012, 5:00 GMT)

Very emotional article...brought tears to my eyes. How easily people forgets their heroes who once played their skins out and brought India to No.1 in the world whereas India was always an underdog in 90's.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 4:58 GMT)

All 3 legends should retire now! And Tendulkar should also retire from ODI games ..It's time for a new team India. Is money minded BCCI listening it is a question although.

Posted by shankarh on (February 3, 2012, 4:56 GMT)

home series will be a good place to start off the youngsters - if we don't get them in now - we will end up using up this valuable time only to boost the averages of the "greats" and will again get found wanting overseas.

Posted by dailycric on (February 3, 2012, 4:51 GMT)

hang on, let me get this straight: dravid and laxman, who have been such wonderful servants of indian cricket, have to be booted out to build for the future because we only play at home for the next two years; but dhoni and sehwag, who have failed consistently in tests for the past two years, have to be retained because we play at home for the next two years?!? ludicrous. if you want to build for the future, start at the top, where the problems have started - with a new captain, and a new opening pair. maybe laxman's career is over, maybe dravid's is too, and maybe not; but unless we have a good captain, and an opening pair that can perform abroad, our abysmal performance will continue.

Posted by SabapathyNarayanan on (February 3, 2012, 4:50 GMT)

Absolutely brilliant. Very well written article Harsha. It had as much grace as the way both Dravid and Laxman played their game. I only wish that all three get to play one more home series, before they leave the arena.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 4:48 GMT)

It will be sad if these icons retire before next test series. They have been pillars of this team past decade and would be heart broken to go out on a low. Personally, i want selectors to allow V.V.S to play test series against NZ and hope he scores big and finishes with some pride.This series should also mark comeback of Viru in the middle order meaning Sachin & Rahul being rested. If Gambhir doesn't fire in ODI series against Australia, drop him and find new set of good openers (with fine technique) for this series and give them ample time to get ready for SA tour 2013. Preferably, Mukund, Rahane, Jaffer should be tried. Play Rahul from next series till SA tour 2013 and play Sachin in SA tour and few tours after. The young boys of now require these senior statesmen for their transition and its duty of the selectors & seniors to allow these boys to mature gracefully.....

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 4:48 GMT)

no,no .... dont talk like this these three have made india the no 1 and not kohli or rohit.. youngsters get chance only when seniors fall early.. it is they the youngsters failed and not the seniors.. stop blaming them treat them like legends.. stop critisizing and enjoy each and evey shots they play and encourage them.. thats what the team needs from us..!!!! CHAK DE INDIA....!!!

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 4:47 GMT)

It all sounds so poetic and romantic when Harsha puts it like this. But the sad truth is that the selectors should have started phasing out or at least rotating the seniors at least a year ago. On India's last tour to Australia, Ponting had mentioned the challenges facing a team in transition and had wondered how India will deal with it. We've shown him and the world how inept our planning is and how comfortable we are running away from the reality rather than recognizing that a problem exists and working on resolving it. I'm a big fan of Dravid and Laxman and their gentlemanly behavior on and off the field. They, rather than the Harbhajans, Kohlis or the Yuvrajs, define the Indian team's aggression for me and once they are gone, I'll forever miss them. But in life you have to move on and now is the time. I do hope though that Dravid joins Kumble, Srinath and Prasad in cricket administration and bring about some much needed changes. Amen!

Posted by podichetty on (February 3, 2012, 4:43 GMT)

excellent article harsha !

Posted by Satyamcn on (February 3, 2012, 4:41 GMT)

Not your best piece. Just the same-old musings.

Posted by SouthPaw on (February 3, 2012, 4:39 GMT)


In the last 13 innings before Oz (8 in England & 5 in India against WI), the big 3 in question scored like this -

SRT: 34, 12, 16, 56, 1, 40, 23, 91, 7, 76, 38, 94 & 3. Tot: 491, Avg 38 RSD: 103*, 36, 117, 6, 22, 18, 146*, 13, 54, 31, 119, 82 & 33. Tot: 780, Avg:71 VVS: 10, 56, 54, 4, 30, 2, 2, 24, 1, 58*, 176*, 32 & 31. Tot: 480, Avg:43.6

Note RSD's Avg of 71 !

If you don't count the WI in India series, then the stats are:

SRT: Tot: 273, Avg 34 RSD: Tot: 461, Avg 77 ---> Wow! VVS: Tot: 182, Avg 23

In Oz:

SRT: Tot: 287, Avg 36 RSD: Tot: 194, Avg 24 VVS: Tot: 155, Avg19

Based on the above, in 21 innings, RSD has "failed" only in Oz, while both SRT & VVS have MOSTLY failed in the LAST 21.

So, why ask for RSD's head when he has been the highest test scorer in the world just last year! Of these, barring the 319 runs against WI in India, the others have come overseas!

And then, why ask the batsmen to go, why not ask Zaheer to go? He is mostly lazy & injured!

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 4:19 GMT)

On his last visit four years ago, there were standing ovations at every venue from crowds that probably didn't expect to see him again. This time also we have seen same view across all venues he played, hoping that this could be his last test tour in Australia. I can bet my life on this that Sachin will return back again in next Australia tour. Believe it or not but he is Sachin and not any other cricketer.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (February 3, 2012, 4:18 GMT)

Harsha what pleasure do you derive in making me cry with that last sentence of yours? Hurt. Deep hurt beyond any reasonable explanation. Dravid and VVS are like my two eyes through whom I saw the world of test cricket. There won't be a tomorrow when I will be able to watch test cricket without those two priceless eyes of mine. Can you please go slow on Dravid and VVS so that helpless loyal fans like me can say a goodbye to them on our soil?

Posted by Biophysicist on (February 3, 2012, 4:18 GMT)

Dear Harsha: I always had high respect for your writing since it seemed to me that you are unbiased and projected a well thought out and balanced view. However, this article made me wonder if my assessment of you is correct. Here you say that while Tendulkar can continue, Dravid and Laxman should sign off (quit). If you see the record for the last 12 months, then Dravid did far better than Tendulkar and averages 14 runs more per innings (Dravid: 14 tests, 1225 runs, 5 centuries, average 51.04; Tendulkar: 11 tests, 778 runs, no centuries, average 37.04). I do not understand on what basis you say that Dravid should quit while Tendulkar should be allowed to continue. It is not as though Tendulkar performed in an outstanding manner in the current series (as Dravid did in England). It beats any logic whatsoever. Please write in a fair and unbiased manner. Then only people will have respect for what you write.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 4:08 GMT)

First of all Dhoni and ishant sharma should be shown the exit. Look at these two players' figures for the last 6 months,the most inconsistent, ineffective members of the side. Bring in Wriddhiman Saha and a good pacer. And about the trio, that all I can say is that there is still no ready replacement for them, no one is really showing enough promise to replace any of the three. Still looking at the future of the the team, one of them can be rested or dropped to try someone else(though I am afraid if that will at all bring some good result ).But , its not that bad to start grooming a possible new member of that mighty middle order. Slowly and steadily, I am sure that Kohli will fill the gap of Ganguly , atleast to some extent, then why not start filling the other gaps.

Posted by bks123 on (February 3, 2012, 4:00 GMT)

Harsha...you almost brought tears into my eyes. For someone who grew up watching these legends, it is hard to imagine an Indian middle order without dravid, sachin and laxman. But alas! it's cricket not an Indian govt job. One can't stay till his 60s. I hope the next decade produces players like dravid, sachin, laxman and ganguly. Not to forget jumbo and bhajji. I will be forever indebted to these guys for the joy and entertainment they have provided me over the last 15-20 yrs. I wish our cricket management were having as good work ethic as these legends had. Their work ethic and humbleness have made them role models. We will miss you guys!!!!. Wish you guys successful lives ahead.

Posted by SamRoy on (February 3, 2012, 3:51 GMT)

Harsha, I still find it difficult to believe how you guys think that the three were the best that India produced. In days of so much protective gear and covered placid pitches and not to mention the declining quality of fast bowlers (though recently SA, Aus and England have got hold of some young promising ones) these guys scored heaps of runs. That doesn't mean they were better than Hazare, Merchant, Lala and Mohinder Amarnath, Umrigar, Gavaskar, Vishwanath and Azharuddin. Tendulkar yes, but the other two well I am not so sure. Laxman for example was never successful against McGrath in Australia (except once in Sydney) or against England in England(a mediocre side most of his career) and in SA. Dravid's story is similar to that of Laxman in Australia, has been extremely successful in England except in 2007 and has been an abysmal failure in SA except in 1997. And it's only in the last couple of years and that tour of NZ in end-2002 and sometimes in SA they encountered spicy pitches.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 3:50 GMT)

sachin first to go then laxman n dravid

Posted by SanjivSanjiv on (February 3, 2012, 3:45 GMT)

Tendulkar shouldn't retire before Ponting. No matter what. Full stop.

Posted by m_ilind on (February 3, 2012, 3:44 GMT)

Enuf already! They haven't even announced their retirements yet! Who knows when that's gonna happen? If the BCCI doesn't give them any sort of deadline/timeframe, we may just continue to see them lot longer than anticipated.

Posted by timus6778 on (February 3, 2012, 3:38 GMT)

love the part where you say Laxman has done the game an honour by being in it..these three legends have ever erupted on anyone ever...performed most of the times than not...and yet in their tough times, we curse them as if they have just made it to the team...No, they have been for a period so long which many wouldn't even think of surviving...Kudos , you three.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2012, 3:33 GMT)

: The next time India play a Test match, the middle order will have a different look to it. That is the way of the world. Another flower must bloom, another boy must become a man. "

Excellent Harsha.... Well Said

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Harsha Bhogle Harsha Bhogle is one of the world's leading cricket commentators. Starting off as a chemical engineer and going on to work in advertising before moving into television, he is also a writer, quiz host, television presenter and talk-show host, and a corporate motivational speaker. He was voted Cricinfo readers' "favourite cricket commentator" in a poll in 2008, and one of his proudest possessions is a photograph of a group of spectators in Pakistan holding a banner that said "Harsha Bhogle Fan Club". He has commentated on nearly 100 Tests and more than 400 ODIs.

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