Cricket's legends are players who have performed consistently in adversity and made a lasting impact on the game. It's this quality that attracts the masses.
The paying public is entertained each year by the IPL spectacle, but it is the stakes of prestige in the longer versions of the game that matter more. And when legends who have earned international glory for India in cricket are not respected for their contribution to the game, the connoisseurs of the game are baffled.
It's not that these legends are demanding recognition. Rather, it's the duty of the BCCI to show that public memory isn't short. It's a wonderful gesture from the BCCI to disburse the one-time payment to many, though the formula could have been better. But, to not consider Dilip Vengsarkar, Gundappa Viswanath, Mohinder Amarnath and Syed Kirmani taints the magnanimity of the gesture.
In the 1975 Test at Chepauk against the formidable West Indies attack, spearheaded by Andy Roberts, India lost quick wickets. Viswanath suddenly changed the complexion of the game with his counterattack. He was cutting and driving at will, bisecting the field and made an unforgettable unbeaten 97. Vengsarkar, known as the Lord of Lord's for being the first overseas player to score three consecutive hundreds at Lord's, has played some outstanding knocks. When he was chairman of the selection committee, his committee picked talented young players, including Dhoni as captain.
Mohinder Amarnath was a gutsy cricketer who continued to fight selection injustice with consistent performances. Batting without a helmet in the Melbourne Test in 1978, he was hit on the head by a ball from one of the fastest bowlers, Jeff Thomson, but that didn't shake him. He scored 100 and 90 in the match.
And what can one say about Syed Kirmani? Keeping wickets brilliantly to a quartet of spinners, he played many match-saving knocks, one of which was when India was five down for 17 against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup match.
Didn't these four legends do enough to enhance the quality of the game and contribute immensely to Indian cricket? Isn't it a strange logic to say that they were not being considered as they were each allotted a One-Day International as their benefit game? Weren't others allotted benefit matches?
The point is these legends, through calculation of crossing the 100 Tests mark, were eligible to get the ODIs. The present generation which is playing minimum 10 Test matches and 30 ODIs per year may not even know that to play 100 Tests, one had to play for at least 15 years.
And to play for 15 years, a cricketer had to perform consistently. In fact, when the BCCI announced the allotment of ODI to players, the BCCI said “it was for the enormous contribution of playing 100 Tests that the BCCI is offering the eligible players to choose any of the ODIs.” This was in the 1990s.
Shouldn't these four legends be honoured befitting the stature that they earned through some top quality performances? Together they have played 364 Tests, 258 ODIs and scored 26,329 runs.