December 3, 2012

Indian cricket

A story about Sachin

Freddie Wilde
Sachin Tendulkar bats in the nets, Mumbai, November 21, 2011
Should I stay or should I go?  © AFP
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No one knows Sachin Tendulkar better than Sachin Tendulkar. If he thinks he can score international fifties and hundreds again, then he probably can, and right now among what must be a mind-ridden with doubt, there will be some semblance of confidence that he can come good again. If there wasn't he would've retired already. Now, I'm not for a minute going to tell Sachin Tendulkar what to do. He is arguably the greatest cricketer of the modern age and I'm an 18-year-old gap-year student.

But what I am going to do is tell you a story, a life story, and a story that relates to Tendulkar and what must be one of the most talked about retirements in the history of sport. When I was seven years old, my Dad returned from England's tour of India in 2001 with a BAS cricket bat. He'd got the bat from a factory where some of Tendulkar's bats are made, he'd even asked for Tendulkar's trademark red, blue and white grip to be applied to the little size four bat, and on the back, in a black ball point pen was Tendulkar's autograph.

For any cricket fan to possess such an item, it would mean the world to them, and to me, even at the age of seven, it did too. About three weeks after being given the bat, I sheepishly asked my Dad if he would be offended if I never used the bat in matches or at practice, as I didn't want the autograph to ever fade or for the bat to ever get damaged. In not using that bat I was looking to preserve the life of that autograph, my little piece of 'Sachin'.

Fans can actually do the same to players' careers. Arguably Tendulkar's last two years have been driven by a reluctance to let his millions of fans down. But this reluctance to not let down, and desire to satisfy the masses, can only last so long. The preservation of something that is dying often only serves to tarnish or ruin - I learnt this bitter lesson a year after receiving my autographed bat... I was now eight and the bat was a year old. Only a year.

But one day I discovered the autograph to be fading - even despite my disinclination to use it. In my naive, clumsy, eight-year-old kind of way, I took the radical decision of pulling my black gel pen out of my pencil case and re-drawing over the signature on the back of the bat. To my horror my Dad told me later that day that the autograph was now worthless - completely ruined.

I'd tried to preserve my little bit of Sachin by not using the bat, and that had worked. But such things only work for so long, and in seeking to revitalise my precious possession, by taking my own pen to the bat, I'd ruined it. Again, I won't claim to know more about Tendulkar than Tendulkar himself, and if he thinks he's got runs left in him, he's probably got runs left in him. But it will be one of sports great tragedies if it gets to the stage where Tendulkar's attempted preservation of what he has left, is only acting as detriment to his legacy and impact on the game.

Keywords: Fans, Legends, Retirements, Tributes

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Sunny on (January 3, 2013, 17:04 GMT)

Make a India Super Oneday Team of all the retired players like Tendulkar,Dravid,Ganguly,Laxman,Kumble and see the result,since they still have fire in their belly to win matches, they will punch hard like never before.

Posted by Prabakar.K on (December 28, 2012, 16:51 GMT)

If anyone said Sachin blocks youngsters chances, it is absolutely not true. You can find more players in indian team who can be replaced. No one can match to his dedication to the game and his spirit of the game even at the end of his career. Let me tell in a simple way. If someone is ready to replace him and give a guarantee to give a same entertainment he gave us, definitely can come forward. Otherwise we cannot ask sachin to retire for the sake of his age and to give a chance to one more youngster. Dont forget that he is the one who made india proud so often.

Posted by vijay on (December 18, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

dear, freddy, i totally agree wid u. And let me congratulate u for this brilliant piecese of litrature. Just like millions of fans, it ll be hard for me to come to terms with srt's retirement. Last night i had a dream that sachin had retired on current low note and i after tht i cudnt sleep anymore.. I just want see his final magic once nd dis is part of my daily prayer..

Posted by Hardy on (December 18, 2012, 0:32 GMT)

So I thought of an interesting question the other day, how long has SRT been the most experienced man in cricket? I looked it up and here I've got the results, the player in brackets is the last player of that country to retire having made his Test debut before SRT: Sachin Tendulkar has been more experienced than any active Pakistani player since 2002 (Wasim Akram), any New Zealander since 1997 (Danny Morrison), any West Indian since 2002 (Carl Hooper), any Zimbabwean, Bangladeshi & South African from his debut, any Sri Lankan since 2002 (Aravinda De Silva), any Englishman since 2001 (Mike Atherton), any Australian since 2004 (Steve Waugh, who himself had an extraordinarily lengthy career) and any other Indian since 2000 (Mohammad Azharuddin). SRT is India's 187th Test player whereas Jadeja's recent debut made him the 275th. A whole third of India's Test players have come after him. Sadly it's time to draw the curtain on this extraordinary career.

Posted by ashok on (December 16, 2012, 3:27 GMT)

i feel sad at what's happening. sachin was my idol, my hero. its so difficult to see him bat like this. he should have retired just after the world cup on a high. its a pain to watch him bat. his shot selection is bad, his confidence is gone, the body language looks terrible..it must be the commercial compulsions that is making him play i think..

Posted by CricPissu on (December 14, 2012, 20:36 GMT)

Nah!!!! SRT will not retire under these circumstances. Its sheer arrogance and "who cares?" kind of attitude. The board/selectors know this and too scared to show him the door. I had enormous respect for this player, but now..... I don't know. He is playing to achieve records and blissfully ignoring that so many young talented players are lining up to join the national team. Hope common sense prevails and he decides to hang his gloves soon after this series.

Posted by Anonymous on (December 11, 2012, 15:27 GMT)

He is still a good batsman and may still be good enough to make the Indian test side on merit but like Ponting there is no question he is on the wane. If he decides to hang around he will probably still make some useful contributions but the glory days are clearly over.

Posted by Saket on (December 11, 2012, 15:06 GMT)

I totally think SRT should stay...But he should seriously consider not playing IPL..which probably will not happen...there are other batting spots waiting to be filled, like Yuvraj's and Gambhhir's. I liked this article!!

Posted by Engr. Ahmad on (December 9, 2012, 8:16 GMT)

Tendulkar still has the highest test avg by any Indian in the history..............1 bad year doesn't make him a bad player if he can score at an outstanding avg of 70 & 80 in 37th & 38th years of life after disastrous 34th &35th years then no wonder he can repeat that feat at 40 &41 as well................His fitness is good. Just that he was a bit out of practice in 2012. Additionally he is still no 1 Indian test batsman on current ICC Rankings.

Posted by Muralita on (December 8, 2012, 7:25 GMT)

All men are subject to hubris; even great ones. Or should I say especially great ones? Churchill was a great wartime leader but come peace and he was found wanting. de Gaulle too was great at rallying the defeated French, but his post-war record was disastrous. Douglas McArthur, a great soldier, took on the Japanese and later the Chinese in Korea. But had to be sacked by President Truman because he was out of touch with the new realities. They all overstayed their usefulness and could not see or were loathe to admit their inability to cope with the changed circumstances. Sachin Tendulkar is now treading this well-worn path. Rcky Ponting saw that, made a critical self-appraisal and, realizing he is no longer effective or even useful, walked. Alas Schin has decided to cover himself with ignominy and humiliation by hanging around well past his sell-by date. It is becoming difficult not to believe that he has considerations other than cricket. Sach-in? It should be Sach-out.

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