The past year had seen many giants of their respective sports hanging their boots in the twilight of their career. Michael Schumacher,Martina Navaritilova, Andre Aggasi, Shane Warne, Zinedine Zidane, Glen Mcgrath would virtually flat the globe and mesmerise every spectator with the baffling range of geniuses and perfection. Like aging culture restorer, all of the aforementioned players revitalized the game with the inputs of their own and breathed life in the seemingly monotonous walk. Not that their skills are too alien to us but every time they conjured magic we were left spell bound with the timing of the magic wand.
A very few modern sportsmen may have found as much inspiration in the face of adversity, as much light when surrounded by darkness, as has Shane Warne. The man had seemingly inexhaustible source to surprise and belie his critics (if there were any). The only bowler in Wisden's Top Five cricketers of the 20th century speaks volumes. Bowling with pin point precision from the back of the hand was perhaps a lost art had it not been for Warne. Mental toughness, superlative skills and one pointed drive drove him past the lesser mortals to the pedestal of great. The “Gatting Ball” will be treasured and adored world wide till someone of Warne’s calibre doesn’t come by and stretch imagination. Despite being a ‘bit of lad’ he perennially took the centre stage in field for 13 long and demanding years. His geniuses were summoned for the semi finales and the finals where he wrecked havoc to the South Africans and Pakistanis. Yet there he left smiling and cunning at the same time.
Schumacher! These days when another Michael (Scofield) is taking to the heart of people this Mike is quietly enjoying his personal drive. But it hasn’t been long when the chequered flags awaited the whistle of his engine. The improbable vision of a cut through, the mental toughness of steel he had in him all the abilities to rise the world. As to prove Sherlock right, (the hereditary genes are more pronounced in elder sibling than in younger) he just took the bastion and kept moving without the fear of looking back as to who is following or not. Such has been his predominance. The world has certainly seen the best driver over the years to have adorned the tracks.
Martina and Aggasi!!! Like undying spirit these extra ordinary sportsmen kept reminding age can’t precede the love. They kept coming and bewilder us. Simple reason being the things we expect from the game played by youngsters is gracefully warded off by them with a tick of never say die attitude. At the twilight of career one can hardly put their money on them to chase each ball down. But these were people above average, even above good. They carved a niche for themselves in the heart of fans and the tennis court.
The stories of extra ordinary battle on field of these two protagonists will long be etched in memory.
Zinedine Zidane!! Head butt?? Is that what he will be remembered for??? May be I am hearing some emphatic no’s already. If someone’s game is termed parallel to the poets imagery it would be a sheer insult if he goes down in the annals of history as a tempestuous guy. With a ballerina’s shift the ruses of Zizou along with the cleverly chipped pass and duck of shimmy will go down as one of the best things to have happened to world football the last decade. His presence was not all about individualistic, he commanded respect and inspired players to shed indifferent form and come up with best. The law-breaking, convention-shattering instinct in superstars such as Zidane makes us admire his guile even at the sub conscious level.
Glen Mcgrath!! Perhaps a word has been coined to mean same as much as pin point accuracy. Talent!! Even talent as special as that possessed by Mcgrath — is a rather fragile thing. Hard work, Overs come and go by but the ball finds no other place to land on except where directed by ‘the PIGEON’.Yet, there he is, atop Mount Mcgrath, breathing in the rarefied air as if born to do it, and looking good to scale another big summit. As democratic as sport is at one level, at another it gloriously magnifies inequality. Just compare Mcgrath -clean, disciplined, hard working with the wayward, impetuous pace bowlers of his era…Well, forget it, there is no comparison.