A narrower field

T20 cricket will miss the respect and credibility that Tendulkar and Dravid lent it.

More than the runs, the aura and dignity that Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid brought to their respective T20 dressing rooms will be missed. The pair’s last-ever T20 game played out in Delhi this weekend. In a quaint summation of their long-form careers, Tendulkar finished a champ on Sunday, while Dravid emerged the likeable bridesmaid as the Rajasthan Royals gave him a fond farewell, even after the team fell short of the Mumbai Indians’ target.

In a format where younger players would easily overtake the two legends of Indian cricket in run-making stats, it’s their sheer stature that steered both teams through some pretty tricky times. Tendulkar had remained the singular glue for a side that splurged on hoarding cricket’s high-profile names, both as active players and on the support staff, but took time to find its groove. Dravid, on the other hand, was the one-man shield, ensuring that the Royals as a unit remained unscathed, even as four of their players threatened to drag the team through muck during this summer’s spot fixing saga. For one brief season, Tendulkar allowed even Harbhajan a chance at statesmanship by passing on his armband, and led Rohit Sharma by the hand as the restless prodigy finally settled down into a mature captaincy role this season. Their easy embrace of the IPL, and intermittent cameos, where they shed their reticent images in a young man’s game, and broke free to turn back the clocks, was an added bonus.

As the IPL braces itself for a reshuffle of team personnel next year, minus the likes of Dravid and Tendulkar, Warne and Gilchrist, it will miss the reassuring presence of blasters-from-the-past who brought a hard-won credibility and respect to a field where batting brats flaunt their easy runs.

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