A GRAND era comes to an end
Source: Herald Sun
Batting kingpins Sachin Tendulkar, 35, Sourav Ganguly, 36, Rahul Dravid, 35, and V. V. S. Laxman, 34 and leg-spinning skipper Anil Kumble, 38, who announced his immediate retirment from the game last night, have been responsible for elevating the battle for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy into one of the game's most cherished and financially lucrative series.
But their time is just about up. Come the next Test series between the countries in 2012, a new-look Indian team will take the field.
Kumble's decision to quit is a wise one.
After a strong campaign in Australia last summer, he managed only 28 wickets in 10 Tests this year. He has lacked his usual zip.
It took him 449 balls to gain his first wicket this series when Brad Haddin charged him and was stumped on Saturday.
Former Indian captain Dilip Vengsarkar had led calls for the Test reins to be handed to M. S. Dhoni.
"Kumble has not been performing in the last six to seven Tests," Vengsarkar said.
"He has been a great servant for the country for the last 18 years, but he has not done anything of note in the last few matches, his time is up now.
Dravid is no longer the "wall" he once was. These days he is a more like a rotting picket fence. He can barely hit the ball off the square and his 123 runs at 23.4 this series have largely come from jabs behind the wicket.
A fine competitor, Dravid's name will forever be etched into Indo-Australian history thanks to his heroics with Laxman at Kolkata in 2001.
Dravid made 180 and Laxman 281 in that famous stand of 376 that lifted the currency and intensity of battle between the countries.
Yet, like Kumble, he has gone on for too long, despite already being a multi-millionaire with his place as one of the greats of the game assured.
Ganguly has been the only "senior" so far to declare he will leave on his own terms, although there were backroom moves to have his colourful career terminated.
Ganguly is said to be looking forward to life away from the dressingroom, although it remains to be seen what he will do with his new-found time.
However, the big debate confronting Indian cricket is how long Tendulkar will go on. He is a fading force, but has shown at times through this series he still belongs at the international level.
India is determined to allow cricket's greater run-scorer to go out on his own terms, but Tendulkar must come to the party on this as well.
There is a feeling he would like to hang on until the home World Cup of 2011. He would be 38 and into his 23rd year of international cricket.
Tendulkar is a god-like figure here, but that adoration could wear thin if he doesn't depart soon and a give a young, promising batsman - like he once was - the chance to make a name for himself.