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After Sangakkara and Clarke, will India retire from Test cricket?

by Gaurav Sethi

It has already overstayed its welcome, should have retired after the big four
The retirements were thick, fast and often furious but India refused to see the writing on the wall or between the headlines. First Sourav Ganguly, then VVS Laxman, followed by Rahul Dravid and ultimately, Sachin Tendulkar. By November, 2013, when Tendulkar retired, the Indian Premier League (IPL) was already six seasons old. Tendulkar (1989-2013) had played his 200th and last Test match. Compare that to India which made its Test debut way back in 1932 and is still playing in 2015 - 489 Tests in all. If Tendulkar could call it a day at 200, why has India overstayed its welcome?
Could it be the 500th Test milestone: There are hushed whispers behind closed doors that India could retire from Tests altogether after they play their 500th at home. Previously, teams such as the West Indies (508 Tests) have played on well after their decline but it's only to lose their first series at home against Bangladesh. India is yet to lose a home series against Bangladesh but this could only be because Bangladesh is yet to a play a Test series in India.  
MS Dhoni retired from Test cricket in December, 2014, and with him a substantial chunk of his IPL fan boys also pulled out from the longer format. Somewhat significantly, the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) also threatened to be pulled out soon after Dhoni's Test retirement. Although Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) mandarins claim the two events have no connection with each other whatsoever, it only takes a wise conspiracy theorist to put two and two together. "The only reason I watched India play in whites was to see Mahi dirty his whites so that they resembled a CSK shade of yellow." said a boy who fancies calling himself Arvindswami Baraharami from Chennai via Ranchi.
August, 20, 2015 marks the start of the end of two great Test careers - Michael Clarke (2004-2015) in his 115th Test and Kumar Sangakkara (2000-2015) in his 134th Test. Both players were fairly forthright in their reasons for retiring. Michael Clarke said he had not scored a Test fifty all of 2015 and would have preferred to retire from 2015 but unfortunately cricket and time were not that gracious. "If only I could have had one more go at the Indians, I'm sure a big score would be just round the corner. But here I am stuck with England in England. Honestly after I couldn't even score a fifty against the West Indies in four innings, I should have called it a day. But one last stab at the Ashes, who can resist that? Not Michael Clarke." said Michael Clarke, stabbing his finger at his chest rather accusingly, followed by an "OWWW that hurts!"
Elsewhere Sangakkara appeared calm sitting with his mate, Mahela Jayawardene in their restaurant, Ministry of Crab.  "After Mahela retired, I've really been bored in the middle. I don't know how you can go on for five days without a friend? Of course, with India it doesn't go on for that long but I miss the banter in the middle. And we have so much to plan here, new recipes, tweaking old ones, hosting our friends and families. Also the lunch breaks aren't long enough to enjoy a good take-away meal from the restaurant. And then you'd rather grab a nap than chase balls in 100 per cent humidity at my age. Not playing in Chennai in the last few IPL seasons has made me not want to play in Sri Lanka as well. It's so much comfier this way. Like I said before, cricket has nothing to do with my retirement from Test cricket." said Sangakkara as he cracked his way through a giant crab.
Another retiree, Chris Rogers (2008-2015) could only muster 24 Tests, 23 of them in the last two years, said he'd rather retire now than be dropped again and wait another five and a half years for his next Test. "Making a comeback at 43 isn't that exciting. Retiring with a Test average of 43 on the other hand isn't that bad" said Rogers, appearing pleased with his mathematical acumen.
A BCCI spokesperson however was bullish when he said, "If Rohit Sharma is playing Test cricket for India, India will continue to play Test cricket for India." Rohit on the other hand wasn't so sure; he shrugged his shoulders and said he loves the shorter format but he must respect the wishes of his captain and coach.
Virat Kohli did not confirm nor contradict India's retirement from Test cricket. Instead, he added with a smirk, "If India has to retire from Tests then it must retire aggressively".
(However plausible this might sound, this is largely a work of fiction.)

First published here

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