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CLOSE-IN: Retirement is now just a perfunctory word in cricket (Ajit Weekly News Column)

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CLOSE-IN: Retirement is now just a perfunctory word in cricket (Ajit Weekly News Column)

The word “Retirement” has truly become a perfunctory word in present day cricket. Recently, we had 3 prominent cricketers, David Warner, Heinrich Klassen and Dean Elgar announcing it. It is not cricket that they are saying adieu to but their farewell to Test cricket.

Warner and Elgar have shown that they still have plenty of fuel to carry on, however, the lack of Test matches vis-a vis the effort that they have to put in to do so, does not make it exciting for them to continue.

Retirement, earlier, was normally a word that came forth strongly in the corporate world. However, in cricket one just made a statement that one was not going to play International or Domestic cricket anymore. That was enough for one to close the cricket coffin for good.

Cricket has now got many “avatars”. This has made cricketers be more specific about which format of the game they are moving away from. The worrying aspect of it all is that it is “Test Matches” that they are talking about. Although most cricketers still aspire, associate and accept their love and devotion for the conventional form of the game, the commercial value of their present existence lies wholly and solely on the shorter limited version of the game.

T20 cricket has taken the cricket world by storm and the lucrative leagues being played around the world are now the life-line of a cricketers career.

An Indian cricketer is the only one who needs to officially retire in order to play in the T20 and other shorter formats of the leagues Overseas. The rest of the cricketers around the world are free to do so.

Warner, Klassen and several other cricketers will still be playing the game, a choice that a cricketer a decade or more back did not have. To continue and pursue playing a 5 day Test match requires putting in a lot of effort and hard work. One needs to develop plenty of mental and physical stamina and technical skills to sustain and be successful. The lack of these elements is the reason as to why Test matches in the present times are finishing well within 5 days.

T20 for a cricketer is a much easier option, wherein, a bowler bowls just 4 overs, that too in a spell of 2 overs each and the batter goes for mighty stroke-play to clear the boundary. The speed of the limited-overs version of the game may seem more taxing to the naked eye, but the wear and tear of a days’ cricket in a Test match is far more draining both physically and mentally.

In Indian cricket, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been a good example of a captain saying goodbye to Test cricket in the middle of a series against Australia in 2014. He referred to his retirement because of the strain of playing all the formats of the game. He, thereafter, continued to play the limited overs cricket and only in 2020 announced his retirement from all international matches. Cricket for him has not ended, as he still plays for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL and was their winning captain in 2023. Having officially retired, his next step could be to boost the other franchise sides that the Chennai owners have acquired elsewhere in the world.

Another recent example is that of Ambati Rayudu who retired from international cricket in 2019 and from the IPL in 2023. He was a part of the CSK winning side. Politics is what one gathered was his next focus in life. He joined the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party and had decided to stand for the next election. He left them after just 8 days to represent MI in the Emirates ILT20 2024. The word retirement from cricket for him was perfunctory, as with other leagues mushrooming around the world, cricket will continue as his main occupation.

This is the trend that one feels will engulf the cricket world. Playing and aiming to play for the country will be the initial attempt to get recognition, however, thereafter a cricketer will be a free-lance professional to go where he finds a job to play the game.

The book written by Thomas Freidman “he world is flat” analyzes globalization in the 21st century, a level playing field for commerce, however, this now will also strongly apply to the world of cricket. Indian Cricketers, like professionals in the business and corporate field, will like in the Information technology (IT) space, become the hub for recruitment for the various cricket leagues being played around the globe.

Indian cricket had 75 cricketers recently on the shores of South Africa. Apart from the National Test side, there were the India A, the India ODI & T20 and the U-19 sides. This is the cricket wealth and the cricketers that India presently brings to the table.

Unfortunately, this cupboard full of cricketers has been very effective playing in bi-lateral series against all the countries, however, the major ICC Cricket Titles have evaded India for over a decade.

The BCCI has put various restrictions on their players to ensure that they do not play in other leagues overseas as long as they are playing actively in India. One wonders how long they will be able to sustain it.

Golf and Football have seen a major change, wherein, the superstars of their respective games have moved away from the mainstream.

Retirement or not, cricketers one feels will soon also follow the same trend.

(Yajurvindra Singh is a former India cricketer. The views expressed are personal).

–Ajit Weekly News


News Credits – I A N S

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