As the calendar year 2013 neared the end, I for one couldn’t help but feel that this particular year has seen a lot of great sportspersons hang up their boots and their exits from the sporting arena have left the Sports Cosmos poorer. May be I am exaggerating it a bit, as most of these retirements affected the two games (cricket and football) and two teams (Indian Cricket team and Manchester United) that I follow. What accentuates the feeling of loss further is that most of the people of my generation have grown up watching some of these sporting icons.
The most significant retirement of the footballing world (Sir Alex Ferguson) has long been coming. But still it came without any warning. Such was the swiftness of the announcement and timing that the footballing world couldn’t believe. A lot of people felt that the great man could have continued for few more years. But he himself felt that it was the right time to go. And he indeed went on a high, after enabling Manchester United to a record 20th league title. Everybody was so engrossed with Sir Alex Fergusson’s retirement that the news of retirement (or shall I say re-retirement) of another Manchester United great, Paul Scholes went relatively unnoticed. Then there were two more former Manchester United players who announced retirements in this year. One of them was David Beckham, the most glamorous of footballers to have graced the game. The other one was Michael Owen, who among other things also owns the envious record of playing for both Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC – the perennial arch rivals.
The other most significant retirement of 2013 was that of Sachin Tendulkar, arguably the best batsman the world has ever seen. His was also a retirement that was long coming, but unlike Ferguson’s it was well planned and the Indian cricket board prepared well to bid a grand farewell to its most celebrated cricketer. Everything about his retirement was as per the script except the fact that he missed out on one more test century.
When I felt that twin retirements of Sir Alex Ferguson and Sachin Tendulkar in a year were more than what a fan could take, out came the last blow all of a sudden – the retirement of Jacques Kallis. Jacques Kallis is one of the best all-rounders, if not the best, that the game of cricket has seen. Although unlike BCCI, the South African cricket board did not get an opportunity to plan a grand farewell for Kallis, but as the case has been with Kallis throughout his career, the icy cool Kallis went about doing is job as he has always done by notching up an important century and thus paving the way for south africa’s series win over India. In the process Kallis ended up with 1 run more in his career than Dravid – which to me appears apt as I always felt that Kallis was a notch better than Dravid as a batsman.
As a sports lover, I would feel 2013 will go down in the history as one year which has seen football and cricket losing some of its most significant icons.