I was 10 years and four months old when John Wright and Ganguly conspired to put you at the top of the order at Lord’s. It was natural, not contrived and you gave a candid smile and accepted the challenge and got out on 83 playing a rash stroke when the day was about to end. Nothing wrong you said. Then on 26 December 2003 you tried to hit Katich out of the park when on 195 and failed again. You tried again when on 295 against the rivals across the border and succeeded this time. Maverick is what common folks call you, Genius is what you are.
I remember when you were the new poster boy I tried DABUR DANT MANJAN. I remember my mother bought me BOOST and a new RIM CONNECTION. The Bat did no more had MRF written on it but had Britannia. It was a long-long-long time ago. So, long that today you are playing your 100th test match. Along the way you have redefined the way one has to bat, encouraged more mavericks (Yes Warner wants to be the next you) and made crazy fans like me.
I never thought you would be so good but the BUTCHER WAS NEVER EXPECTED TO CARESS. You even did your butchery with an artist’s paintbrush. That arc of the bat, that beautiful back lift and that dreamer’s hand-eye coordination. But there is something else that sets you apart.
No one would plan to hit the bowler out of the stadium to get the ball changed (well I believe Shane Warne and he believes Jeremy Snape) and succeed. Nobody in his right mind would challenge a left hand spinner to bowl from a specific angle and stop you from hitting him for a six when there are 4 boundary riders (yes I dialed Paul Harris’s Number). Nobody in their right mind would tell his coach that if the flight is not safe that would not make him a better flier (yes I just talked to John Wright even though the ISD rates are very high). And certainly nobody in their right mind would say the difference between me and Sachin Tendulkar is Bank Balance. But the point is that you made Ian Healy go out of his way and say YOU ARE THE RIGHT HANDED LARA.
You defined the situation according to you. Changed the world, created a new one. You are the Aristotle of batting, a devotee of one of the masters of the game, but went against some of his principles and changed the ground and the rules of the battle.
It was your fearlessness against Shoaib that helped me tell my teacher she was teaching nothing new (there is much more a fifth grader can learn than Pythagoras theorem). It was you candidness in an interview that helped me tell my mother I had indeed done a mistake by taking money from the house’s temple. It was your passion for doing things your way that made me solve questions in exam not by my teacher’s way but by my own way (and lose marks :P).
But now age seems to be catching up fast. Eye sight is not that good. You have failed outside the subcontinent. You chose IPL money over West Indies’s tour. Probably there is a lesson in that as well. After all, a poster boy is just a poster boy, a mere human. I hope that there will be one more lesson. HOW TO RISE FROM THE ASHES AGAIN? My eyes will be on you in South Africa 2013.
For now congratulations on the century you really deserve.
Your just another fan…..