I had a dream last night, or rather a nightmare, that AB de Villiers retired from international cricket.
It was a terrible dream yet it was one that wasn’t completely unreasonable. In the morning, I switched on my computer and frantically googled ‘AB de Villiers retired’ and nothing new came up. I felt a deep relief but the thought stayed with me. AB de Villiers is missing his third consecutive series having not missed one in his first 98. People age and as difficult as it is to imagine our heroes as regular people, they are.
I’d had this thought before, it crossed my mind when India’s golden four retired from the international stage, when Brian Lara retired, when Kumar Sangakkara retired. The list went on and on from Shane Warne to Jaque Kallis and I realised how often I had I said to myself “who will I even want to watch now?” or “Cricket won’t be the same without …” It made me think how many times had I questioned what the game would be like without this person or that person. I realised that people must have been thinking this since the beginning of the game. What did people think when Donald Bradman retired, or when Imran Khan retired.
Gary Sobers retired in 1974 but that same year, Viv Richards made his debut. Players come and go, they make new marks and we discover new heroes. New players with new skills. Wasim Akram introduced the world to reverse swing, Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee introduced the world to 100+ mph deliveries. Who knows what the next cricket match holds for us.
My religion on Facebook may still be ‘Sachinism’ and I may always compare all players to him and Rahul Dravid, but I was rooting for Wahab Riaz with every fibre of my being in the 2015 quarter final against Australia. When Rahat Ali dropped that catch I felt my heart sink. I have written about that piece of bowling on countless occasions but that display of bowling will be ingrained in my mind forever. I watched him throw lightning bolts again this summer against England, live at the home of cricket, and was once again mesmerized.
Cricket is an ever changing sport. No two players are the same and that’s what makes it interesting, if everyone was a Sachin Tendulkar, we would get bored of it. Everyone has their own personality, their own technique, their own flair. There are always new talents revealing themselves and we may never have another player with an average of 99.94, one scoring 100 100s or one scoring 400* but records are made to be broken and they wouldn’t be records if everyone could do it.
With the women up and coming, young players like Haseeb Hameed and Karun Nair breaking onto the scene and with the likes of Virat Kohli and Joe Root around, we will never be short of new heroes.
(but luckily AB hasn’t retired just yet)