On November 10, 1985, the day after Garry Kasparov, at 22, had become the youngest ever chess champion, Rhona Petrosyan, widow of the legendary chess player Tigran Petrosyan, told Kasparov, "Garry, I am sorry for you, because the best day of your life is already over." Sorry to sound like a wet blanket, but perhaps someone should take some similarly sobering words across to Virat Kohli and his all-conquering under-19 team.
Even as the team lands in Bangalore and before their open-bus tickertape parade, those wanting to associate themselves with success are queuing up. Have we forgotten, so quickly, how politicians dominated the stage and cricketers took a back seat when the Twenty20 winners returned from South Africa?
Already the board has promised each of the players Rs 15 lakh, and before the cheques can be written out, Kohli has announced he's buying himself a Honda Civic. But this under-19 win should only be looked at as a stepping stone. It's not a destination these boys have reached, but rather a stepping stone, a place from which they can dare to dream.
India were lucky that they had players of the calibre of Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman in the same era. The flip side to this is that these cricketers will all leave the stage around the same time. And it will take real men, not minnows, to fill their boots. The talent is clearly there, and now some measure of achievement and performance too, but that is not the end of the world. There has always been talented cricketers, but how many of these have gone on to score 5000 Test runs or take 200 wickets? What makes the difference is desire and drive — something missing in cricketers who have lost their way after early success — yet still shines through from the likes of Tendulkar and Kumble. Kohli is not much older than 19, and sure he should treat himself to the car he wants, but he should be thinking, & talking about cricket.