He had seniority by way of team India debut over Mahendra Singh Dhoni. However, embryonic entry and being in the shadow of the unconventional batsman always made it hard for this cricketer to cement a permanent spot in the team.
Parthiv Patel’s retirement from all forms of cricket suggests a burn out in an age where cricketers are playing well into their forties, trading their game the world over. The promising 17-year-old who made his debut for the Indian cricket team in 2002 in Nottingham under Sourav Ganguly now sounds like a mature, philosophical legend of the game as he has decided to hang up his boots.
For the thirty-five-year-old, a 25 Test career might seem hardly boast-worthy. And yet Parthiv cannot be discounted as a player who has always put up his hand, willing to be counted no matter how treacherous the waves of fortune have been. A talented teenager, Patel was drafted in before he had a real taste for domestic cricket and his learning graph thereafter has included not only intermittent international stints but also, being able to sublimate his own efforts in light of the emergence of Dinesh Karthik at first and then Dhoni on a more regular basis.
Parthiv’s time in the sun throws a shadow on another young wicketkeeper-batsman. Rishabh Pant is in danger of being cast in the mold of MS Dhoni. Already the pressure of comparison on him has been stifling, stunting his own growth and learning graph. Early criticism and signs of competition have done little for the young cricketer’s confidence. Parthiv’s career, as well as his retirement, should be a cautionary tale of the need to persevere with passion, talent that can outwit age, challenges and competition.
While Karthik too has lived in the shadow of the combative, cool, and composed wicketkeeper-batsman from Ranchi, Parthiv was always on the sidelines, ready and willing when an opportunity presented itself, sometimes with a gap of six years. Such has been his career, most cricketers might have sooner be done with the game. But Parthiv’s career in the game as been as long as his age when he began the journey. The effusiveness of gratitude in his words is the epitome of the way he has always represented himself in the public eye: more maturity than was being asked of embryonic shoulders.
Sustenance is not easy when another player of such great dominant personality as Dhoni occupies centrestage. But the fact that Parthiv Patel has continued to be in the limelight as a well-liked, much-respected cricketer speaks of the career and legacy he has etched for himself, with his own limited opportunities. India has borne witness to a few of these cricketers, whose lamp was lit for a short brilliant burst before the fuse went out. But many have been unfairly forgotten despite their albeit brief brush with destiny.
Why should Parthiv stand out in the face of the era of Dhoni? It has little to do with his age but the way he has played the game. Parthiv can take a bow as she shows the way for the love of the game despite the kind of career he has had in the limelight, particularly after such a brilliant but onerous start.