The IPL has largely passed the office by this year (whether a dereliction of duty or a barometer for English tastes is unclear, let us know) but the bits I’ve seen have made me nostalgic.
Watching Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist just isn’t the same; they look like they’ve always looked, the familiar technique and bowling action, the competitive spirit, the presence – but when it comes to it, they’re just not that good anymore.
Warne rolls his arm over with none of that old snap, turning the ball gently with his fingers, not ripping and drifting it with his shoulder. The ball drops on a length, as it always did, but were it not from Warne’s hand, it’d be treated with little respect.
Gilchrist can still smash it but those lightning hands and quick eye are just that bit slower. Medium pace beware but Dale Steyn has little to fear. In fact, when Gilchrist was batting with Shaun Marsh against Steyn the other day, he looked every bit the elder statesman to Marsh’s player-in-his-prime: Gilchrist played mis-timed pulls and was beaten for pace; Marsh faced one ball that he drove easily to the cover boundary.
Gilchrist can still get 50s and 100s, Warne can still win matches from nowhere but they are doing it through experience, through memory not through the raw talent and performance that made them such box-office players.
None of this matters, I suppose, and Warne has retired. And the IPL is still richly entertaining in its own way.
It’s just a reminder of how greatness in sport is so fleeting and, perhaps, that no one has yet emerged to take their places.
Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Cricketer magazine