What Jay Leno and Rahul Dravid Have in Common

Rahul Dravid scored his 32nd century in the Test against the West Indies, and it came at a crucial time, with India’s young batting line-up faltering once again. At 38, Dravid gives little away about any impending retirement; the money has it that he and Laxman and (possibly) Tendulkar will leave over the next two years (the term of Duncan Fletcher’s contract), but I have a question: why retire at all?

A long time ago, I made the case that retirement in cricket will become increasingly obsolete. For the best players, there will always be stadiums open to them, from IPL to other budding T20 leagues (and lucrative “coaching” contracts). I want to add an addendum: if a player is scoring runs, why force him out? Call this the Jay Leno theory of succession: if the only reason you have to bench a player is some vague concern about the “next generation,” banish the thought. Why remove your star late-night performer only because your second-star late-night performer has a contract up? (No offense to any Conanistas!)

You don’t need to read a Simon Katich rant to see the logic here. I understand the underlying concern — at some point, even Tendulkar will stop scoring the necessary runs, and once he goes, we will be left with a bunch of blue-blooded hotshots who think slog sweeps are acceptable ways to score Test runs. But so far, India has played its hand surprisingly well. Its schedule remains ever chaotic and frantic, leading to injuries and rest periods, allowing opportunies for Pujara, Badrinath, Vijay and now Kohli and Raina.

A Test here, a Test there. If they’re scoring runs and still want to play, I say let Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar stay ’til they wanna.

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