Two significant retirements

The two greats, Michael Clarke and Kumar Sangakkara, leave the stage on their terms much to the disappointment of their fans. But there is no doubt that they leave the centre stage with millions of loyal fans who will reminisce about their deeds fondly in the years to come.

It has become a weekend of farewells in different time zones and two different continents. Two great performers for their respective countries walk into the sunset with mixed emotions. They both are like chalk and cheese as personalities, but yet they were similar in many ways as cricketers. One played with the fierce pride associated with the culture of his country, while the other played for uplifting the spirit of his trouble-stricken countrymen. The two greats, Michael Clarke and Kumar Sangakkara, leave the stage on their terms much to the disappointment of their fans. But there is no doubt that they leave the centre stage with millions of loyal fans who will reminisce about their deeds fondly in the years to come.

Clarke played hard, but never missed out on an opportunity to have a chat on the field either with the opposition or his colleagues. A chuckle or a broad smile was forthcoming from “The Pup”, who carried himself with great dignity and composure. He was identified at a very early stage of his career as the future leader and even as he bid farewell, he reckoned that the successful moments of his team were the highlights of his career. He always put the interests of his country ahead of his own and now that he has quit the international arena, maybe he will pursue his interests with zeal.

The remarkable thing about “The Pup” was the maturity he displayed all through and even during occasions when the Aussie dressing room was not a happy one. He was accused as one of the causes for the unhappiness that prevailed during one particular phase, but then there is nothing wrong in a captain demanding his players to conform to the team’s culture. Clarke loves to make friends and the grief that he went through when his best friend Phil Hughes passed away was evident. In fact, the black band even on his last appearance does indicate that the misery has not totally subsided. Clarke’s departure will leave a big void in the Australian batting line-up, but most importantly, a captain who made it a point to be one among the boys will be missed enormously.

Unlike Clarke, Sangakkara had to establish his credentials and work his way to becoming the lead star for Sri Lanka. He also had to shoulder the burden of living up to the expectations of his countrymen, which he did with aplomb. Sangakkara was not very demonstrative like Clarke, but his stoic attitude did not deter him from retaliating in the language the opponents understand when required. Of course, he never went about seeking an argument (despite being a qualified lawyer) but he made it known where the line of control was drawn.

Off the field, Sangakara could enthrall one and all with his eloquence as he did at Lord’s while delivering the Colin Cowdrey lecture. The depth and width of Sangakkara’s knowledge and awareness about life came to the fore during that speech. The audience was left to yearn for more when he finished the speech, very much like he has done by announcing his retirement from cricket. As a batsman, he was of the stealthy kind, in that he never looked like demolishing the opponents, but yet the numbers stacked up in relevance to the situation and format. It will be interesting to see the path Sangakkara chooses to take post retirement as he is a diverse and extremely intelligent individual. There will no dearth of options for him in cricket, but unlike many others he has many outside of cricket as well. No matter which path he takes, he is bound to excel in his inimitable style with which he succeeded in cricket.

Well played Clarke and Sangakkara, wish you both the very best in your future endeavours.