Sixteen years since the exit of the great Kapil Dev, we are witnessing that irrationality all over again – the case in point now being Rahul Dravid © Getty Images
Sixteen years since the exit of the great Kapil Dev, we are witnessing that irrationality all over again – the case in point now being Rahul Dravid © Getty Images

 

By Tim Holt

 

There is no doubt that cricket is a religion in India and the heroes that grace the Indian national team are revered in this fine nation like no other. They cling to their great players like a child to its favourite teddy bear. Holding onto it as tight as they can and never wanting to let it go.We have seen this in the past as well. Kapil Dev hung on in an almost irrational manner. Sixteen years since the exit of the great Kapil, we are witnessing that irrationality all over again – the case in point now being Rahul Dravid. If you talk to an Indian, you will hear him say, “We need Dravid first for the South African tour and then the England tour.” I’m quite sure, in mid 2011, they’ll be saying we need him for the Australian tour.

 

My dear Indian friends, Dravid is not a teddy bear and you aren’t children. It’s time to let him go!

 

Truth be told, if he were to retire after the gripping Test series in South Africa, an impartial fan would probably see his decision as being a selfless – much like England’s Paul Collingwood, who announcement of retirement during the Ashes series.There is no reason for Dravid to remain any longer. And if he does, he runs the risk of tarnishing his reputation, blocking India’s precocious batting talent and jeopardising India’s future in the bargain.

 

In sport, the best time to replace a player is when you have strength. Australia replaced a perfectly good keeper in Ian Healy with a precocious Adam Gilchrist. That worked out. And how!

 

Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Dravid are all well over 35. What if all three greats retired at the same time? Or if they suffered a dramatic slump at the same time – something not totally unexpected when in the twilight zone? A bit like what the great Ricky Ponting is going through now. It would be too big a hole for even the most talented youth to fill.

 

If India adopts responsible management, then it would tap Dravid on the shoulder after this Test and tell him it’s time to say adieu.

 

This would allow a new player to be injected in the side when masters like Tendulkar and Laxman are around to groom and inspire. They could pick the most unappreciated talent in Indian cricket in Subramaniam Badrinath who has all the experience in the world and might emulate Mike Hussey who made a very belated entry into Tests.

 

Then the same progression plan could be in place with VVS Laxman in a year or so and for Sachin Tendulkar after his 100th Test century in the year 2025!

 

(Tim Holt was born in Northern Ireland in 1952. He found his love for cricket when he was sent to South Africa between 1964 and 1966. He is an unashamed cricket purist who feasts on Test cricket. His passion for the game cuts across geographical boundaries and into the domestic competitions. Tim, who has a background in journalism and teaching, has lived and worked in many places across the world)