In a series that has already seen a few birthdays, tomorrow (1 November) will be a very very special birthday of a special batsman — V. V. S. Laxman. He is the youngest of the Fab Four — I think Peter Roebuck has termed him Ringo to Ganguly’s Paul, Dravid’s George and Tendulkar’s John! Laxman turns 34 on 1 November 2008.
This series has seen a few birthdays from both teams. Interestingly, most birthdays on this tour so far have been of the over-30s club (if we count players who turned 30 as belonging to the 30s club).
- Virender Sehwag turned 30 on the last day of the Mohali Test (21 Oct).
- Anil Kumble turned 38 on the 1st day of the Mohali test (Oct 17).
- Matthew Hayden turned 37 on the 1st day of the Delhi Test (Oct 29).
- Zaheer Khan celebrated his 30th birthday a couple of days prior to the start of the Bangalore Test (Oct 7).
- Stuart Clark celebrated his 33rd birthday on the last day of the Australians’ tour game against Rajasthan (Sept 28).
- Brad Haddin turned 31 two days after the conclusion of the Mohali Test match (Oct 23).
- Brett Lee will celebrate his 32nd birthday during the Nagpur Test match (Nov 8).
There are two players that break the over-30s ring to the birthday honours list for this tour:
- Mitchell Johnson will celebrate his 27th birthday on the last day of the Delhi Test match (Nov 2).
- Gautam Gambhir celebrated his 27th birthday the day after the Bangalore Test concluded (Oct 4).
I stumbled on all of this when looking up the ages of the Fab Five of Indian cricket. Anil Kumble turned 38 on OCt 17 2009; Rahul Dravid will be 36 on Jan 11 2009; Sourav Ganguly already turned 36 on July 8 2008; Sachin Tendulkar will turn 36 on April 24 2009; Laxman will turn 34 on Nov 1 2008.
While Ganguly has already announced his retirement at the end of the ongoing series against Australia, it is conceivable that Anil Kumble will not be around for long. Kumble will, in all likelihood, be the next “cab off the Fab Five Rank”, especially since India has a captain-in-waiting in (M. S. Dhoni) and also a legspinner-in-waiting (Amit Mishra and two, if you count Piyush Chawla). Anil Kumble can leave the grand stage comfortably, knowing that his art as well as his leadership philosophies are in extremely good hands. Through a combination of luck, opportunity-seizing and design, there appears to be a succession plan in place for his departure with no sudden and gaping holes. What is now required is for Kumble to make his call on when he wishes to step down. I have a feeling that the two Tests against England in December this year will be his last. The thought of packing his bags for a trip to Pakistan early next year (2009) and another one to New Zealand soon after that will be enough to provide that proverbial last straw in a weary camels’ back!