Very soon – maybe it will be a few months or perhaps a few years – he is going to hang his boots. Like that other giant of Indian cricket, he too will walk into a room and read out a statement. And it will be over. A few people I know would have tears in their eyes. But it will be over.
There will be memories of that first time he stepped out to open in an ODI and ended up smashing 82 off 49. A counterattacking 115 in Perth. That last over against South Africa in Hero Cup. The dance down the track when Shane Warne came round the wicket. A sandstorm of centuries in Sharjah. That unforgettable BITS common room moment when Shoaib Akhtar was dispatched for a six in the 2003 World Cup. An oh-so-painful loss against Pakistan at Chennai. Back to back hundreds in the CB series in 2008. The 200 against South Africa at Gwalior. Or just that picture perfect straight drive. Just the straight drive.
There will be other memories of that other hero as well. Remarkable not in their variety but in their consistency. Of balls outside the off stump carefully left alone. One after another after another. Series after series where he seemed to be playing a different game compared to the rest. Like it was somehow easier for him. Staying there and staying there and staying there.
That’s all that we’ll be left with. Memories. It won’t be about numbers or statistics. No one will care that Dravid averaged 24 in his last series. A hundred years from now, when you and I have long disappeared, they won’t care that the 100th came against Bangladesh. They’ll look at these old, non-3D images and it wouldn’t matter. They’ll see Tendulkar non-chalantly punch the ball over slips, they’ll see Dravid flick it off his legs and they’ll wish they had been alive back then to see these heroes bat.
As we are. As we have.