It was heartening to see Virat Kholi ‘move on’ with a splendid century against the Aussies yesterday. And it was equally appalling to see the expletives that came out as soon as he breached the three-digit mark. For someone who has hit only three centuries in international cricket, the show he put on yesterday was a bit too pretentious for my taste.
The current Indian team has a good choice of youngsters at its disposal, with Suresh Raina and Kholi leading the pack. With first-class careers that indicate talent and performances that mirror their abilities, these players have bright futures ahead.
But sadly, this generation of cricketers lacks a core element that has seen their predecessors attain heights of greatness – attitude.
When men of yore, like Dravid and Laxman, set about their tasks as brand ambassadors of a nation where the game is likened to religion, it was with a level of persistence and diligence that was unmatched and unrivaled by any other cricketer. Humble in victory and in defeat, these men were role models for people who grew up watching them. Their off-field personas which radiated exuberance, and their unassuming demeanors made them national icons, revered and respected by all.
With shorter versions of the game becoming popular and with the blurring of the fine line between sports and entertainment, the current batch of emerging cricketers does not possess the mettle or the character required to reach the dizzying popularity their seniors reached.
Simply put, a Yuvraj will never be a Sachin, because Sachin never gave the coach a mouthful on national television on completing his century.
A Sreesanth will never be a Srinath, because Srinath was more concerned about the quality of his bowling than that of his words.
A Harbhajan will never be a Kumble, because Kumble inspired awe with his restraint and dedication.
With the exception of Sachin, India has lost most of these icons and heroes and it will probably be a long time before someone half as good comes along. After all, it’s not just talent that matters.