If you are an Indian, irrespective of whether you follow cricket or not (non-followers would anyway be in a miniscule minority), you know Sachin Tendulkar. And like all other Indians, and cricket followers all over the world, you would have, for most part of his glorious cricketing career, been in awe of this amazing gentleman. He is one rare combination of extraordinary talent and remarkable humility. Soft-spoken. Professional. Unassuming in personality, imposing in stature. The world is at his feet, yet his feet are firmly grounded. It would appear that God created him to demonstrate something to humanity. If only we are observing.
While he continues to travel on his chosen path, still attracting huge crowds wherever he plays, discussions on his retirement plans have now started appearing at every medium. Questions are now being asked about his role and future in the Indian team. What started as a murmur has now become a noise. So, should be retire now? Why? Why not?
At the outset, I must admit that my achievements in my field of endeavor would be less than 1% of what Sachin has achieved in his field. While Sachin has been an inspiration, admirable and positive influence on countless kids and adults alike, I am hardly such a person even within my close circle of loved ones. And, I am, only like most other people. Yet, I venture to suggest to Sachin that it is time he hung up his boots. He must retire now. I say this out of affection and concern, not disrespect. And I say this fondly to the 16-year-old who debuted for India with starry eyes.
To many, Sachin has never been an ordinary player. He has been a great one. A legend. And he has set up the mark so high for himself that today even he may be finding it difficult for him to match. So what should he do? Arguably, he may still be better than most ordinary cricketers. So, does he stoop to the level of mortals to compete with them? Please, NO! Let not the lion become a dog for the sake of a bone. Leave us with just the memories of how you ruled on field, not of how you struggled to progress from 96 to 100.
I believe that anyone who has in mind the best interest of Sachin, should venture to suggest him to retire now. His body, enthusiasm, commitment, and all the positive virtues that he has, may allow him to play, at the most, a couple of years more in the international circuit, and may be fetch India a few more wins, and personally to him a few more centuries and laurels. But they will all come at a very heavy cost. He has gifted us with countless memories. But his greatest gift to us has been this image of a committed professional who performed for the team’s cause. A professional who battled to triumph, not a professional who struggled to survive. He runs the risk of having to pay for this extended run with his stature, standing, reputation, and goodwill.
Sachin, on field today, resembles a shadow of his past. Don’t read a lot into the scores – whether he is making them or not; whether they are favourable to him or not. I do not attach a great deal of reverence to statistics. Not because they don’t help, but they can be easily manipulated. Anyone can be pleased. You just have to pick the right numbers.
Ever since he first made début as a teenager, Sachin Tendulkar has come across as someone who put the interests of the team above himself. What is in the best interest of the team today? That is a question that he has to answer himself honestly. And he will be judged by his answer, as much as by the amount of runs he has scored.
Retirement is not the end of the world. We would like to see Sachin often, in one form or the other. And we will see him of course. But however we see him, we like to see him as someone who excels. Never as someone who struggles. He is not like us. Let him not become like us.
Agreed I haven’t played cricket even at school level. Agreed that I cheered for him till not so long ago. While I can’t cook, I complain if the food served to me in a restaurant is stale. I love Madhuri Dixit and her smile. Yet, should a movie be made today, I would not prefer her to be the college-going heroine opposite Ranbir Kapoor.
Majestic voyage, it has been. But the ship is running aground now. And the sooner the captain acts, the better it would be.
Finally, Sachin, at this point of time, reminds me of an Indian bride at her ‘Bidai’, shortly after her wedding. Surrounded by loved ones in tears. Loved ones who are pained at the thought that she has to leave, even while realizing within themselves that she has to leave. Loved ones hoping to make the most of the few moments left. Loved ones hoping that time would stand still and the bidai would freeze in time.
However, that doesn’t happen. The bride must leave. She must set up her own household. We must allow her to leave. And advise her to leave. And fulfill her destiny. Before the Groom loses patience and heads home alone.