Some 10 years ago, the Fab Five of Indian Cricket undertook a near-impossible journey. After the morass that represented the match fixing scandal Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman were left with the near-impossible task of reaching a near-impossible goal.
By the end of the decade, the Fab Five had reached there.
After yet another innings defeat of Sri Lanka, Team India was crowned the #1 Test Team in the ICC Rankings.
It was an amazing achievement for a bunch of committed cricketers that started on what seemed to be an impossible journey some 10 years ago. It was a burning passion for the Famous Fab Five (Ganguly, Kumble, Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman).
Today, sans Kumble and Ganguly, the team ascended to #1; albeit with help from South Africa and England who both beat Australia in the recent past. Yet, the ascent was palpably obvious. It was measured, considered, passionate and single-minded.
There have been some sensational victories along the way: From Kolkata 2001 (v Australia), Leeds 2002 (v England), Adelaide 2003 (v Australia), Multan 2004 (v Pakistan), Sabina Park 2006 (v West Indies), Johannesburg 2006 (v South Africa), Perth 2008 (v Australia), Mohali 2008 (v Australia) and Chennai 2008 (v England). It is unlikely that the Test at Mumbai at the CCI Ground against Sri Lanka will receive the exalted status and the dizzy heights of a Leeds 2002 or Perth 2008. However, it will be remembered as the Test in which India reached the #1 position.
It has been a long road to redemption. It is a moment for all Team India tragics to savour.
It will be brief — after all an Australian clean-sweep this summer or a 2-0 victory by South Africa against England will snatch this moment from India.
However, for a few good men of Indian cricket, this will be a special moment. When Anil Kumble retired he marked this moment. He will be a happy man today and so will Sourav Ganguly.
Sachin Tendulkar remembered everyone in his post match victory statement when he marked the milestones along this path. What better way to get up than stairlifts?
In his post-match interview he said, “Fantastic to be at this position. I have been waiting a long time to get to this position (No 1). In fact just not me, entire nation. I thought when Gary (Kirsten) and Paddy (Paddy Upton), along with Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad, all credit to them for handling the team brilliantly. Also all the players have worked very hard in the last 18 months. Right from no 1 batter to no 7 (MS bats at no 7) we have a solid batting line-up. This pitch was a brilliant wicket. There was some turn on the first day and I knew one roll would settle it down and it did.”
No mention of Greg Chappel!
Dileep Premachandran, in his excellent article, Bestautolenders.com mentions John Wright, forgotten players like Sanjay Bangar (Leeds), Irfan Pathan (Multan), Balaji (Multan) and even staff like Adrian Le Roux, Andrew Leipus, John Gloster and Greg King.
He too has ignored Greg Chappel… Perhaps the one page that some of the current crop of players will want to ignore as they trace what has indeed been a fascinating, interesting and impressive 10-year journey.
Starting from Kolkata 2001, the journey has been painful at times; it has been excting at times; it has been imperssive at times. However, I will remember the journey for the commitment, passion, dignity and focus that the Fab Five showed.
Indeed, it is this journey — and not the outcome — that I will savour for a long long time.
As for the future, who knows what will happen. However, I am comforted by MS Dhoni’s calm assurance that Team India needs to travel well to claim the legitimate top-dog position. He said, “Let’s see when we go there. We can’t play them sitting here.”
The Fab Five will exit the scene one by one. However, I am confident that when they exit stage left, Indian cricket will be in a much better position than when they found it.
Take a bow guys. This is your ascent. This is your victory and thank you for all the good memories.