October 16, 2013

Tendulkar: not a players' player

Perhaps fighting the BCCI is a losing battle but if there was one player who could have thrown sand in the wheels of their juggernaut, it was Tendulkar
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Did Tendulkar make most use of his
Did Tendulkar make most use of his "soft" power? © Mumbai Indians

Our evaluations of our favourite cricket players do not stop with a cold statistical assessment of their playing records, or a passionate recounting of the aesthetic pleasures afforded us by their efforts on the playing field. We often hope, sometimes unreasonably, that they will not disappoint us in other dimensions. Perhaps they will also be great captains; perhaps they will not embarrass themselves during their retirement phase; perhaps they will not turn into one-dimensional blowhards on television.

For a very long time now, I have entertained an abiding hope that an Indian cricket player of sufficient sporting stature would become, by dint of action and deed during his career, an advocate for Indian players. Someone who would - to borrow the language of labour relations and industrial action - organise the workers in his workplace and campaign for better treatment by their management.

Perhaps he would lead the initiative to form a players' union - an effort that has been tried in the past and has failed, or rather, has not been allowed to succeed; perhaps he would take up cudgels on behalf of other players treated unfairly by the national board; perhaps he would, by singular acts of defiance, engender relationship-transforming showdowns with "The Man". He would speak up boldly and act accordingly. He would thus bell the BCCI cat and introduce some much-needed professionalism into a relationship - the BCCI-player one - that still bears depressing traces of the feudal.

The BCCI-player relationship is an unequal one in many ways. We do not know the terms of the contracts the players sign with the BCCI; we do not whether they accord with the legal standards that professional sportsmen in other domains are used to; we do not know whether they would pass muster with employment and labour legal regimes. Indian players, as they found out during the ICL saga, do not enjoy something approximating "free agency".

Cricket boards worldwide collude with the BCCI, of course; they run cricket like a cartel and make sure that a player affiliated with one national board cannot ply his trade elsewhere without the right sorts of permissions (like the no-objection certificates needed to play in county cricket and in the IPL.)

The BCCI has often had cause to crack down on the players it controls: whether it has been Lala Amarnath sent home from England in 1936, Vinoo Mankad facing difficulties in playing for Haslingden in the Lancashire Leagues in 1952, the banning of several Test cricketers for playing "unauthorised" cricket in the US in 1989, placing restrictions on Indian players' presence in county sides or in the Sri Lankan Premier League, and lastly and most infamously perhaps, the brutal crackdown on the ICL. When the BCCI takes on the players, there is only one winner; more often than not, it is a no-contest.

Perhaps fighting the BCCI, as this history indicates, is a losing battle, one not to be engaged in by any sane man. But if it was ever going to be taken on, it would have to be a player whose fame would be such that his battles with the BCCI would be backed by the passion of his extensive fan following, someone on whom the BCCI could not crack down on without enraging millions across the land who could take up cudgels on his behalf. I would thus allow myself to dream about a player who would recognise the rhetorical advantage that the passion of his fans afforded, who would ably manipulate the gigantic megaphone his cricketing feats had afforded him, and sally forth to do battle with the BCCI.

This absence of a confrontational streak, this refusal to engage in reform, this unwillingness to be drawn into battles off the pitch, do not sully Tendulkar as a cricket player

Sunil Gavaskar had fired a few shots across the BCCI's bows in his playing career, some of which can be found in his intemperate autobiography Sunny Days, but he did not take those battles to their logical conclusion. And since his retirement, he has drawn ever closer to the BCCI. Perhaps someone even bigger than Sunny was required. After his retirement, only one Indian player has met that requirement: Sachin Tendulkar.

Tendulkar has been one of Test cricket's greatest batsmen. His strokeplay brought us many, many hours of pleasure; statistically, some of his records will, in all probability, never be broken; his discipline and dedication and the spirit in which he played the game have been an inspiration for other players and spectators alike. But, as has been evident through his playing career, he was never going to be such an aggressive advocate for Indian cricket players. Indeed, if anything, by virtue of his famed reticence and refusal to be drawn into controversy, he has, perhaps wittingly, perhaps not, become an establishment man. It was only appropriate then, that this retirement announcement would be issued as a statement by the BCCI.

This absence of a confrontational streak, this refusal to engage in reform, this unwillingness to be drawn into battles off the pitch, do not sully Tendulkar as a cricket player; these lacunae do not diminish his records or lead us to think less of him as a human being. He has borne the burden of unreasonable adulation for very long and still managed to perform at a very high level. And all too many of us would not seek out battle with our bosses.

But the lack of a Tendulkar-led or -inspired player action against the BCCI is still cause for regret, for the sense of a missed opportunity is, for me at least, palpable. During Tendulkar's tenure the BCCI became ever more powerful and wealthy; it became ever more entrenched as the absolute controller of Indian cricket (a fact it asserted with a brutal display of heavy-handedness during the ICL saga). In this same period, Tendulkar, by dint of his extended career, became a kind of Grand Old Man of Indian cricket, moving from fresh-faced teenager to wizened veteran. His voice had acquired considerable sagacity. If any sand could have been thrown in the wheels of the BCCI juggernaut, it would have best originated from Tendulkar.

That moment has now passed. It is unclear whether any Indian player in the future will ever command such "soft" power as Tendulkar did. MS Dhoni, for all his fame, does not meet the bill. (And indeed, as is already evident, he can be just as tight-lipped as Tendulkar.)

So as I prepare to bid farewell to this great batsman, my wistfulness will be coloured by a sense of another kind of loss, of a seemingly singular moment in time - with respect to player-BCCI relations - having come and gone.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nutcutlet on October 16, 2013, 12:47 GMT

    Yes, Samir, I have long held the opinion that Tendulkar was in a position to agitate for more transparency in & from the BCCI. Because of SRT's unique position as the nation's darling, he could have used his mass support outside the inner sanctum of Indian cricket to bring about change. As you ask, Samir, just what are the terms of the contracts that the elite players sign up to with the BCCI? How legally compliant are they? Why is there so much power in the BCCI, without any accountability? Why isn't competition countenanced (ICL)? In short, what is BCCI doing as the major organisation charged with the safeguarding of Indian cricket in a country famed as the largest democracy on earth? But SRT's done very well, personally & financially. He has a nation in the palm of his hand & could give back the loyalty & adoration he has enjoyed, by leaving Indian cricket a better place than he found it. The best friend is the person best able to correct your faults & point out yr shortcomings.

  • akpy on October 18, 2013, 22:41 GMT

    it pains me not only to read the article which is non-sensical as i admire sachin for his cricketing ability and as a human being - not as a single man army on and off the field with solutions to all the problems !!! But what annoys me is that anyone and everyone including me can write about this man who played for our country for 24 years giving his very best, we can say he failed now and then but cant fault his efforts ever, from his first day on the field. One fundamental thing that some of sachin's haters (cue - most of dravid's fans of late) do not understand is 'how come all the indian players (forget international ones) who shared his dressing room speak not only highly of him (that they do with dravid, saurav, kumble, etc as well) but look at their passion, respect and spontaniety like Virat's words after lifting him after WC2011, yuvi talking about him, bhajji, kumble, sourav, etc..why will they do that if he was not a player's player??

  • on October 18, 2013, 22:20 GMT

    This article forces me to ask: How many roads must a man walk down before he is called a man? Why can't we stop being judgmental of his legacy? Why can't we stop idolizing him and simply see him as a genius sportsman with extraordinary ability who shouldered the burden of our expectations so well over past two decades?

  • amitdashore on October 18, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    Samir, disaapointing article.. if u think BCCI-player relationship is an unequal, file a PIL and if u wanna know the terms of the contracts the players sign with the BCCI, whether they accord with the legal standards that professional sportsmen in other domains are used to, whether they would pass muster with employment and labour legal regimes,then file a RTI! if a country has a board for cricket 'control', then why should players have a "free agency"! if board is paying them for their services, providing facilities n grounds to actually play along with opportunities of tours, contracts n pension, it has authority over the players as to where they should be playing.. when things r good, u dont want anyone to disturb them.. n when things go bad,u dont need a sachin to fight against it. player-board conflicts in SL n WI prove that. they never had Lara or desilva taking on their boards, but still were able to make a point! politically,even ganguly is more influential than SRT,so what?

  • anilkp on October 18, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    Nampally: How does your opinion relate to what Samir wrote here, or to what other readers reflected upon? Did you read Dave Hawksworth's piece and made up the response, but instead pasted the comment here?

  • Rohit... on October 18, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    Whatever BCCI might have done to due to its money power, it has never tried to bully its cricketer... BCCI knows its limitation & knows that if he touches a player, he would be in danger... For Indian Cricket BCCI had done all thing possible to raise the standard of the game... Even when Australia were at full force, India was the only one who were challenging them...& Now when India managed to maintain the standards with young players like Kohli & Bhubaneswar while the standards of other nations fell and fell hard... BCCI should get its credit and there is no way SACHIN will challenge BCCI when BCCI is doing a great job for Indian Cricket.

  • on October 18, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    Bang on! Finally someone "stepped up to the plate" and did an intelligent piece on Tendulkar's legacy. SRT owes all to the game and should have fired a shot or two at the Indian board's several misdeeds. Respect for other boards and countries for one. Cricket was let down too when the english and australian boards ran the game. The English players refusal to play Pakistan with packer players is the modern equivalent of a bynch of overrated and overpaid cricketers not agrreeing to play under laws that every other nation plays with.At least Ian Chappell has some self respect left in him unlike Gavaskar, Shastri and the like.

  • Cam_PT on October 18, 2013, 3:01 GMT

    Interesting point to raise, but not kind to throw it all at Tendulkar's feet. There are others who can rock the boat too. Perhaps a more pertinent point is that he stayed away from team leadership, that his career as a captain was brief and unrewarding. This shows that he was never going to question the external hierarchy. Personally I would love to see more articles on the tragic treatment of ICL players, as some country's players were ruined (eg. Shane Bond) by the gross and unfair power that the BCCI had over other country's boards.

  • Nampally on October 18, 2013, 1:06 GMT

    Pujara is the most likely replacement for Tendulkar @#4. He has played only 13 Test matches & he has already scored 1100 runs in 22 innings with the highest average for any Indian in Tests at over 65. I expect Dhawan will open the innings with most likely Rohit Sharma & Kohli will bat at #3. If Kohli does not want #3 he can drop to #4 with Pujara going in at #3. In any case these 2 are the best Indian batsmen on whom the bulk of responsibility falls. Actually Pujara's entry into Tests has been delayed after his phenomenon records as a teen ager. Nevertheless he has sound defence, all round strokes, great match temperament & above all determination to stay at the wicket. Kohli on the other hand has scored lots of runs in the ODI where he has the best batting average. He is a very gifted cricketer with a range of strokes all round the wickets. Nobody can replace the legends like Dravid & Tendulkar. But any replacements start at the bottom & show their class. Let Pujara & Kohli blossom.

  • vickscricket on October 18, 2013, 0:58 GMT

    I think the issue goes beyond just player reform. What has SRT really contributed to the sport outside the field of play? He was so absorbed in his own game that he lost (or never had?) all other perspectives. Forget player reform, where he actually might be taking a risk with his career, why did he never speak up on match fixing scandal of 2000, which happened right under his nose? Apart from a lame suggestion late in his career of splitting up the ODIs into 2 25-over innings, what has been his contribution to enhancing our sport? Even the 2 controversies in his career - ball tampering and his role in Monkeygate - he always refused to clarify, leaving fans like us to fight the accusations on his behalf in various discussions and online forums. I guess we deserve this for being unconditional fans of someone who has only given back to himself, not his sport which made him a billionaire or his fans who made him into a "God" of some sort just because he could hit a cricket ball.

  • Nutcutlet on October 16, 2013, 12:47 GMT

    Yes, Samir, I have long held the opinion that Tendulkar was in a position to agitate for more transparency in & from the BCCI. Because of SRT's unique position as the nation's darling, he could have used his mass support outside the inner sanctum of Indian cricket to bring about change. As you ask, Samir, just what are the terms of the contracts that the elite players sign up to with the BCCI? How legally compliant are they? Why is there so much power in the BCCI, without any accountability? Why isn't competition countenanced (ICL)? In short, what is BCCI doing as the major organisation charged with the safeguarding of Indian cricket in a country famed as the largest democracy on earth? But SRT's done very well, personally & financially. He has a nation in the palm of his hand & could give back the loyalty & adoration he has enjoyed, by leaving Indian cricket a better place than he found it. The best friend is the person best able to correct your faults & point out yr shortcomings.

  • akpy on October 18, 2013, 22:41 GMT

    it pains me not only to read the article which is non-sensical as i admire sachin for his cricketing ability and as a human being - not as a single man army on and off the field with solutions to all the problems !!! But what annoys me is that anyone and everyone including me can write about this man who played for our country for 24 years giving his very best, we can say he failed now and then but cant fault his efforts ever, from his first day on the field. One fundamental thing that some of sachin's haters (cue - most of dravid's fans of late) do not understand is 'how come all the indian players (forget international ones) who shared his dressing room speak not only highly of him (that they do with dravid, saurav, kumble, etc as well) but look at their passion, respect and spontaniety like Virat's words after lifting him after WC2011, yuvi talking about him, bhajji, kumble, sourav, etc..why will they do that if he was not a player's player??

  • on October 18, 2013, 22:20 GMT

    This article forces me to ask: How many roads must a man walk down before he is called a man? Why can't we stop being judgmental of his legacy? Why can't we stop idolizing him and simply see him as a genius sportsman with extraordinary ability who shouldered the burden of our expectations so well over past two decades?

  • amitdashore on October 18, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    Samir, disaapointing article.. if u think BCCI-player relationship is an unequal, file a PIL and if u wanna know the terms of the contracts the players sign with the BCCI, whether they accord with the legal standards that professional sportsmen in other domains are used to, whether they would pass muster with employment and labour legal regimes,then file a RTI! if a country has a board for cricket 'control', then why should players have a "free agency"! if board is paying them for their services, providing facilities n grounds to actually play along with opportunities of tours, contracts n pension, it has authority over the players as to where they should be playing.. when things r good, u dont want anyone to disturb them.. n when things go bad,u dont need a sachin to fight against it. player-board conflicts in SL n WI prove that. they never had Lara or desilva taking on their boards, but still were able to make a point! politically,even ganguly is more influential than SRT,so what?

  • anilkp on October 18, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    Nampally: How does your opinion relate to what Samir wrote here, or to what other readers reflected upon? Did you read Dave Hawksworth's piece and made up the response, but instead pasted the comment here?

  • Rohit... on October 18, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    Whatever BCCI might have done to due to its money power, it has never tried to bully its cricketer... BCCI knows its limitation & knows that if he touches a player, he would be in danger... For Indian Cricket BCCI had done all thing possible to raise the standard of the game... Even when Australia were at full force, India was the only one who were challenging them...& Now when India managed to maintain the standards with young players like Kohli & Bhubaneswar while the standards of other nations fell and fell hard... BCCI should get its credit and there is no way SACHIN will challenge BCCI when BCCI is doing a great job for Indian Cricket.

  • on October 18, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    Bang on! Finally someone "stepped up to the plate" and did an intelligent piece on Tendulkar's legacy. SRT owes all to the game and should have fired a shot or two at the Indian board's several misdeeds. Respect for other boards and countries for one. Cricket was let down too when the english and australian boards ran the game. The English players refusal to play Pakistan with packer players is the modern equivalent of a bynch of overrated and overpaid cricketers not agrreeing to play under laws that every other nation plays with.At least Ian Chappell has some self respect left in him unlike Gavaskar, Shastri and the like.

  • Cam_PT on October 18, 2013, 3:01 GMT

    Interesting point to raise, but not kind to throw it all at Tendulkar's feet. There are others who can rock the boat too. Perhaps a more pertinent point is that he stayed away from team leadership, that his career as a captain was brief and unrewarding. This shows that he was never going to question the external hierarchy. Personally I would love to see more articles on the tragic treatment of ICL players, as some country's players were ruined (eg. Shane Bond) by the gross and unfair power that the BCCI had over other country's boards.

  • Nampally on October 18, 2013, 1:06 GMT

    Pujara is the most likely replacement for Tendulkar @#4. He has played only 13 Test matches & he has already scored 1100 runs in 22 innings with the highest average for any Indian in Tests at over 65. I expect Dhawan will open the innings with most likely Rohit Sharma & Kohli will bat at #3. If Kohli does not want #3 he can drop to #4 with Pujara going in at #3. In any case these 2 are the best Indian batsmen on whom the bulk of responsibility falls. Actually Pujara's entry into Tests has been delayed after his phenomenon records as a teen ager. Nevertheless he has sound defence, all round strokes, great match temperament & above all determination to stay at the wicket. Kohli on the other hand has scored lots of runs in the ODI where he has the best batting average. He is a very gifted cricketer with a range of strokes all round the wickets. Nobody can replace the legends like Dravid & Tendulkar. But any replacements start at the bottom & show their class. Let Pujara & Kohli blossom.

  • vickscricket on October 18, 2013, 0:58 GMT

    I think the issue goes beyond just player reform. What has SRT really contributed to the sport outside the field of play? He was so absorbed in his own game that he lost (or never had?) all other perspectives. Forget player reform, where he actually might be taking a risk with his career, why did he never speak up on match fixing scandal of 2000, which happened right under his nose? Apart from a lame suggestion late in his career of splitting up the ODIs into 2 25-over innings, what has been his contribution to enhancing our sport? Even the 2 controversies in his career - ball tampering and his role in Monkeygate - he always refused to clarify, leaving fans like us to fight the accusations on his behalf in various discussions and online forums. I guess we deserve this for being unconditional fans of someone who has only given back to himself, not his sport which made him a billionaire or his fans who made him into a "God" of some sort just because he could hit a cricket ball.

  • anilkp on October 17, 2013, 19:50 GMT

    Samir, I agree that there are various issues that need to be conveyed to the BCCI by a senior, well-respected, soft-powered player. However, you defy logic by wishing the player could have been SRT. Ever sinse he touched the willow in public, he has been non-confrontational. In all respects. That people world-over respect and love him is because of that very non-confrontational attitude. That attitude is one and inseparable from SRT himself. Then, is it not illogical to have such weird wish? Instead, someone who could have done this is Ganguly, who was forceful in many ways. Or, Kumble, at least being the KSCA president. Or Dravid--not for ever being confrontational, he never was; but for being sometimes very vocal and rightly so. If concerns have not been addressed, then you could perhaps be disappointed by these three; not SRT, or, for that matter, VVS. Sorry, but this article is disappointing.

  • sportofpain on October 17, 2013, 19:37 GMT

    This article makes no sense at all. The presumption being that BCCI is bad and that someone should stand against them. BCCI is the best run sporting organization in India. The likes of Sachin, Dravid etc came up through BCCI ranks - age group tournaments, coaching camps, tours etc. As a young cricketer myself back in the late 70's / early 80's I know how well BCCI organized under 15 and under 19 tournaments. Our travel arrangements were taken care of, we stayed in reasonable places, got a daily 'bata' (spending money), had coaching camps. BCCI now pays Ranji cricketers well, has a pension scheme for players, has IPL - all this benefits the players. There is no conflict. Why would Sachin want to fight them. BCCI loves Sachin. Dravid and Ganguly do too and so do so many others.

  • rikhilkatyal on October 17, 2013, 19:27 GMT

    Hi Samir, well really disappointed to see such an ill-logical article written on the great man. Trust me there was no need to draw this conclusion that he is not a player's player. Had he been what you wanted him to be, he would have been called arrogant by you people only, somebody showing his tantrums just coz he is a star. I am sure you would have written this had he done what you expected him to do. All of us expected him to be a hero on field and be 'player's player' on field which he has done over the past 24 years. I think asking him to stand against the board and form a union is not right.

    And as far as being player's player is concerned, I think you should go and interview players who have played with him, you will get the right answer. He has been just the idol student and at the same time, the teacher of the game.

    I think people should think 100 times before writing anything against Sachin and I would request all of you to alteast make sense of what you are presenting.

  • on October 17, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    True Samir... Very well written !!!

    I think your next article would be how Sachin dint agitate for his society plumbing issues...

    Exceptional work !!! Keep it up...

  • inswing on October 17, 2013, 17:26 GMT

    I've concluded that it is too much to ask athletes to be reformers. Tendulkar is like Michael Jordan in a lot of ways. Played one sport exceptionally well, was best in the world, and didn't do anything else. Never spoke up for a cause, never fought for or against anything, never tried to change or reform anything. This is because there is no reason for great athletes to have any other abilities. They are great at one particular thing, and are completely average at everything else. Fans have a tendency to attribute great abilities to them in every facet of life, but that is almost never the case. If you take away the batting and basketball skills, Tendulkar and Jordan respectively are average people. There is no reason for them to have the intellectual ability or drive to be leaders off the field. Yes, it feels like a waste of their power and popularity, but we really shouldn't expect great athletes to be great in any other way.

  • sachin_zing on October 17, 2013, 17:13 GMT

    Frankly, this is a very absurd article. It confuses between general negative feeling towards BCCI and players views towards BCCI. To be concrete, what stand was expected from Sachin Tendulkar, say, in case of the ICL crackdown? I don't see or remember any one incident where there was a real for confrontation with BCCI. So why do that. there can difference of opinions on matters such as DRS. but i think he better focus on cricket rather than giving opinions and stirring controversies, as there is no end for such opinions.

  • InsideHedge on October 17, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    Tendulkar has been well taken care of by the board and its selectors. It was an incredibly brave call to pick him as a 16 year old on what, for an Indian, is the toughest assignment - a tour to Pakistan. Apart from a short period, when he was appointed captain, and asked to bat at #4 in ODIs, he's been allowed a special dispensation to bat as an opener in ODIs and #4 in Tests.

    A career long special status that's enabled him to continue playing international cricket for the last two years when he clearly should have been dropped makes it difficult for SRT to be the man who taps the BCCI on the shoulder and steers it in the right direction. The two have been good for each other, it's been a profitable partnership.

    We just to have wait for a different kind of player, perhaps one who is confident there is life outside of cricket should he be snuffed out by the board.

  • InsideHedge on October 17, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    It's a brave article, Samir, you could easily have just joined in with the well-deserved compliments that are being showered upon SRT as he begins his farewell.

    I do agree he could have done more, his personality is a big stumbling block, he's never been a rebel at heart. Is Lara a hero for doing a sit-in at Heathrow Airport with his teammates enroute to a tour to South Africa or was he unprofessional and holding the WICB to ransom?

  • RAJA_06 on October 17, 2013, 15:38 GMT

    Sachin is one of the most selfish players played for India, sticking to ODIs despite winning the all memorable WC shows his greedness, many youngsters have lost chance just because of him. He received a great insult by the selectors kicking him out of ODIs. He should have received a great farewell, has he had exited the game gracefully. Even now, it's forced retirement for Test Cricket. Thanks to the new selectors.

  • aschisch on October 17, 2013, 15:25 GMT

    time is ripe for the nation to follow dictatorship now. none of those commenting here have an issue with freedom of speech or expression. since the players are well fed and paid for, there is nothing else to worry about. seems the minds here are fully corporatized. if the organization makes an 'indecent proposal' (don't ask what it can be), it can well do it since it 'takes care' of' them by paying them. the people here have either lost their souls or they just don't have it. disappointed with comments of majority.

  • on October 17, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    Samir is right in a lot of ways. Sachin has never been a outspoken person. He is the last person to voice opinions. However, looking at the whole issue from another angle one needs to remember, what should he have spoken about on the players behalf? The Indian cricket player is the best paid and looked after in the world. What could have Sachin fought for then? Maybe he could have asked for reducing the no. of meaningless matches at the most. But then again, it is a player's priority. He can always rest if he wants to like MSD did against Sri Lanka once. While the BCCI may have got its own organizational troubles, it has always been good to its players. Well , at least most of the times.

  • on October 17, 2013, 13:09 GMT

    I think CricFan78 is spot on. Tendulkar's captaincy proved that he is not really a leader of men. I think he was smart enough to realize his limitations and concentrate on his batting - the right choice at the end.

  • on October 17, 2013, 11:46 GMT

    Just a minute! Tendulkar has been concentrating on his batting to the extent that he was not interested in captaincy. He has broken all manner of records and helped India to the top. He is not a union leader. And, by the way, Indian cricket is administered quite well, the media's Srinivasan mania, notwithstanding. None of the administrators is looting the Board, the players' and ex-players' interests are being looked after well, selection is fair, a lot of top-class infrastructure has come up all over. Sure, there is room for improvement but I would rather have greats playing on the field than messing around off the field. There are already many 'activitsts' getting up the nose of the BCCI. There is no need for players to get involved. A lot of rubbish is being written about Tendulkar. In India we don't know how to cherish our achievers. The crab mentality refuses to go away.

  • on October 17, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    From the past 10-12 years BCCI s money and power has been well utilised in creating basic infrastructure. If you look at the organisation, no one complains anymore on the grass roots development or infrastructure. All the attention is regarding the top management and their lack of communication. DRS was first opposed by BCCI and now a lot of them oppose. Its the manner they communicated or didn't communicate made everyone go against BCCI. And who knows, if he had not used his 'soft power' without public knowledge? What might have been the reasons BCCI decided to over turn the ban? Who would have been the brain behind the pension scheme? You have got to understand, a lot of cricketers are not kids. They are aware of what they get into. Its like working in some corporates - you know its not perfect and yet you go ahead with it. I admire Sachin s cricketing acumen but I don't expect him to be a messiah all the time.

  • rar_ind on October 17, 2013, 6:33 GMT

    This is asking too much from him...he wanted to play cricket which was his passion and since he was excellent at it, he has many records to his name. If we had worried abt things happening around from the game , I don't think he would have been this consistent and sustained his passion fo rthe game for such a long time...Sachin embodies what it is to be a great cricketer and we should leave it there...

  • pa99 on October 17, 2013, 5:18 GMT

    Why pick on SRT? a billion people in India surely we can produce one C L R James !

    for the uninitiated, C L R James took on the West Indies establishment for the appointment of a coloured captain - F M Worrell.

  • on October 17, 2013, 4:31 GMT

    He is a cricketer , not a politician...i think he was meant to play cricket and be good at it , and undoubtedly he has been...rest all comes last to him as it should.

  • kowalski on October 17, 2013, 4:29 GMT

    This is one of the many articles which would be written over next few months by unknown writers trying get some popularity by bashing SRT. Its a simple way to publicity. What makes SRT the only person capable of 'changing' the BCCI? Why should he do that? No other sport demands such actions from individuals. MCA elections pitches Deshmukh ( an Ex CM ) against the legendary 'cricketer' Vengsarkar. Why couldnt a cricketer win an election of cricketing body against a politician? Have realistic opinions Mr. samir. Are you serious? Not players player? Gavaskar was a player's player? Shastri? Why should an existing player go against the establishment? Shouldnt you blame the legends who have retired already? Its been 5 years since Ganguly and Kumble retired.. I dont see them protesting the anarchy, oh wait I see them on BCCI's paycheck on TV channels praising BCCI. If gavaskar, shastri, kumble ganguly vengsarkar together cant do something, why should SRT even think of doing it?

  • vinjoy on October 17, 2013, 4:27 GMT

    @RAJEESHKUMAR. You mentioned a few instances whereas my comments were from the holistic viewpoint. I am not trying to convince you.... we both are cricket fans and this blog space gives us enough space to share our thoughts.

    Let us not try to convince each other... we all have our own perception and my comments are derived from how I know and understand the game and same is true for you.

  • CricIndia208 on October 17, 2013, 3:50 GMT

    When the employer takes care of all your needs and more, why do you need a workers' union?

  • CricFan78 on October 16, 2013, 23:12 GMT

    I think its quite clear from Tendulkar's captaincy stint that he is not a good really leader of men. He is a nice bloke who does not know his way into and out of controversies like Ganguly did.

    He had stature as you said but I dont think it comes natural to him. If anything perhaps Ganguly or even Kumble ( I know he did to some extent) should have taken this issue further.

  • yenjvoy1 on October 16, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    He does not need to be any more than what he is. His job as a cricketer is to play the game well and entertain the viewers. Cleaning up of the game's administration is out of scope. e may or may not chose to take that on, but if he doesn't how can you fault him after everything that he has already given.

  • on October 16, 2013, 20:56 GMT

    This is an absurd article.

    He owes nothing to nobody. He has not asked for any favour and does not have to do any to anyone else.

    Pen is mightier than sword; and keyboard is even more so... please use responsibly.

  • akhilhere on October 16, 2013, 19:15 GMT

    Its very easy to say some one could have done this or that from any position. But what we really need to ask our self is, does any one have done is successfully in the past?? Are we just blaming him because he has reached a position no one else has?? How sure are you when you say that if any one could have done it,he can?? If sachin was lion ,BCCI is the jungle itself.Lions needs the jungle as any other animal to survive. I just cant believe people from his own country calling him selfish. When people who knows circket and bcci a lot more than any of us here itself consider SRK a legend and they themselves are his fans then i guess we all should just accept it or ignore it.Or like every one else can use his name for our publicity.

  • tickcric on October 16, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    Sachin Tendulkar is the quintessential Indian idol. A child prodigy who turns into an immortal, yet a life without controversies and scandals - "no one can point a finger at him" kind, a family man from the pages of ancient scriptures. Sometimes it seems to me, in Indian cultural milieu, Sachin has only one peer - Arjuna, from Mahabharata. Like Sachin, he was a genius, the "greatest among the greats"and yet, like Sachin totally encompassed by his art & profession - an establishment man. The single minded devotion, propels a Sachin to great heights but somehow it also manages to restrict, such a one... You have said it rightly, this doesn't, by any means, diminishes Tendulkar's greatness as a player but we as fans tend to demand something special from extraordinary someone. In a strange way, this wistfulness - "what Sachin could have also done" , is only appropriate in this grand farewell, as in all seriousness this can only be asked of a Tendulkar.

  • SamRoy on October 16, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    I have always said Tendulkar and Kallis are two of the most selfish cricketers of this generation even though they may be two of the best. At least Kallis was unselfish in test cricket but Tendulkar was amazingly selfish in all formats.

  • on October 16, 2013, 17:25 GMT

    If he wanted, Sachin could have done a lot of good to cricket globally. But then question Sachin always asked was - how much money will Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar for doing it ? If the answer was not enough, Sachin just was not interested. Sachin wants to make some runs in test # 199 & 200. SA have good bowlers who have probably said - "we will bowl our best, if you are good enough, bat well enough & make your runs" to Sachin. Sachin knows he is not good enough to fact Steyn & co. Selfishly, he has chosen not to retire, but instead -bribed / bullied BCCI management into picking a fight with CSA. WI bowlers are substantially weaker & their board management has probably issued an instruction to their captain - while Sachin is batting, give your good bowlers a break, help Sachin with some runs he does not deserve on cricketing merit, in return for the free money he has got BCCI to give you guys.

  • RAJEESHKUMAR on October 16, 2013, 17:19 GMT

    Mr Vinjoy, almost all the time, India decided to play SRT at no 4 in ODIs, the team suffered(1999 WC, 2007 WC, first 2 games of 2003 WC). In 1996 WC, 2003 WC & in 2011 WC India performed excellently with SRT giving wonderful starts & carrying on in many games. Then, why one should think of playing at no. 4? Ganguly batted down, not for the team. In srilanka, he had to bat lower down due to his absence from the field in the NZL innings. Sehwag opened scored a 100 of 68 balls. Then he let sehwag to continue in the position for some matches. But in 2003 WC he came back to opening position. In Kolkata test vs AUS Dravid & Laxman exchanged positions bcaus Dravid was out of form and laxman batted well in thye 1st innings. Ponting forced Waugh to leave no. 4 postion by his performances. How many times lara and ponting batted down the order. Also u didnt respond to Clarke's example Leave all this, please point out any player who performed enough to replace SRT from his batting position

  • JaxRaje on October 16, 2013, 15:10 GMT

    Never saw these comments/observations when they he was at his peak of career?

  • ICF_Lurker on October 16, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    Samir,

    There is a different way of looking at this. Right from the days of C K Nayudu, Indian cricket and cricketers have been part of a system and no player himself has ever been bigger than the system. This was true for Kapil and Sunny as it is for SRT. Compare this with Pakistan where Kardar, Imran etc have been bigger than the board and a negative fallout has been a systemic erosion of the cricketing infrastructure itself in Pakistan.

    I see where you are coming from but I will see this as a plus for Indian cricket where even someone like SRT was never bigger than BCCI, than a negative.

  • on October 16, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    Forget about the onerous task of reforming BCCI. He did not even stand up when the selectors send him Noel David. That to me was the biggest sign he was not a leader but a good individual player and did not deviate from his comfort zone and individual goals

  • on October 16, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    Samir, a very excellent article! However, this was only wishful thinking! I guess you know that lots of the current BCCI policy overtures are the silent personal decrees of SRT. For example, the Indian snobing of DRS, and the instigator FOR the India tour to South Africa fiasco. Anyone who wants to believe otherwise is just hanging out in the world's best hotel of denial! Sachin cares about no one but himself. His entire career is concrete evidence of this. I am surprised to see you mentioning it. My biggest disappointment with him though, is the way that he has made Rohit 'The Classical' Sharma wasted about 8 years of his life out of test cricket! Did SRT do it because everybody is saying that Rohit has more class than him? I don't believe so, but questions are made to be asked!

  • Sunrays on October 16, 2013, 13:04 GMT

    Does anybody really think Tendulkar would have had the security to walk in and out of the team as he pleased, not move from his preferred batting position whatever team needs, and among other records get to 200 tests, if he did what Samir is advocating here? Whatever else his pressures and losses in form in career, he never faced the pressure of losing his position in team or the batting order. That is the ultimate security a cricketer can have. The numbers will eventually stack up, as they did. Tendulkar would never have risked that security.

  • CricketChat on October 16, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    @Longmemory. Good observation. A successful, if uncontroversial, Tendulkar would have meant a lot to BCCI and financial ventures.

  • CricketChat on October 16, 2013, 12:21 GMT

    No one can say for sure, but I doubt if Sachin would take up battles for someone else based on his conduct through out his career. He seemed to be very conscious of his image and never took sides to any great extent irrespective of merits. May be he knows Indian history well too. No one has won the ultimate battle with any Indian establishment thus far, a lingering legacy left for Indians by feudalistic British Empire. As pointed out, he will follow one of his idols from the same city, Gavaskar, in toeing the BCCI line. They, both BCCI and Sachin, will win, leaving the players to fight for themselves.

  • on October 16, 2013, 11:11 GMT

    If I am correct, Tendulkar along with other seniors - Kumble, Dravid and Ganguly advocated for central contracts which are now in place.

    I think you have also been unfair to Kumble by saying SRT was the only cricketer with "credentials" to take on the BCCI.

    I hope that Kumble would one day lead the BCCI and make it more professional.

    Isn't it funny that only the BCCI and no other board has the word "control" in its name. So, in effect the BCCI acts according to its name

  • vinjoy on October 16, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    @RAJEESHKUMAR

    Test Matches: SRT batted at 4 when followed by Ganguly and Laxman, or Yuvraj/Kaif/Raina. Over the years the experienced players move down the order to help young players settle since they are more capable to bat with lower middle order or with tail. Steve Waugh, Border, Ranatunga, Azhar, Cronje.. all do that. SRT did not. Never at least when the team needed him to bat 5 (I know such instances). When you do research, please exclude all instances when he batted at 5 because of a night watchman. Laxman kept moving from 6 to 5 or sometimes even 3 when needed. Dravid adjusted, but the elephant didnt.

    ODIs: He had success at number 4 in 2002 England tour though his displeasure was evident. Few other times, he failed because he didnt want to bat anywhere else. Ganguly batted down for the team. Dravid batted up or down (both in tests and in ODIs) for the team.

    And he had publicly said that 'batting order was the reason for World Cup 2007 exit' which is not true.

  • on October 16, 2013, 10:16 GMT

    Brilliant article, we will all come to realise, especially the Indian Fans that Tendulkar only Played Cricket, that is all he did and circumstances were always engineered to suit him and his sentiments, Tendulkar came first in all matters. Had any other International cricketer, such as genius strokemakers like, Saeed Anwar or Mohammed Yousuf been accorded similar respect and longevity they would have doubtlessly flourished as well. However to get back on topic, very few players will utilise their stardom from cricket as a platform to make a better life for their common countryman.

  • on October 16, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    I sgree with the writer.

  • RAJEESHKUMAR on October 16, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    Mr Vinjoy, I cant agree with u. SRT batted at no 4 in many ODIs, but they resulted in failure, both him & the openers. How many Indian players you can point out as good ODI openers apart from Ganguly, Sehwag & Gambhir. Now, even after one year from the retirement of SRT, did India find a stable opening combination? Before SRT & Ganguly which was the stable opening pair of India? Look the situation in test matches. Apart from Kohli, Pujara & now Dhawan, can you find any replacements for SRT, Ganguly, Laxman & Dravid. After that we can discuss about the no. 4 position of SRT. Which player do you think lost chance by the no 4 position of SRT. Can you point out a player who changed his batting position for the team when he is in form. Why Clarke is reluctant to leave the no. 5 position for aus? One should understand that for a player in action for so long, records are bound to come. e.g for SRT to deny the record for being the 1st indian to score 50k runs, he should stop to score runs.

  • switchmitch on October 16, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    Why should he choose to become the voice of other players? He is a player, not the saviour of the cricketing world. Why should we expect him to be the paragon of virtue by dint of his action and deed? He is just a player, who has been blessed with genius abilities in his craft. If he chooses to remain mute about the shenanigans of higher powers, it is his choice, a pragmatic one.

    These expectations are a result of the fans choosing to place Tendulkar on a pedestal that is taller than the game he served. We choose to treat him like a Demigod and expect him to be perfect. This is wrong.

    For some of us fans (and am sure there are a few like me), Tendulkar will remain a great player. Once in a generation genius who was the absolute best in his pomp. We also realize that he has his flaws and is certainly no demigod. To expect him to take on the establishment and live up to his hyped status is really not fair.

  • on October 16, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    Did he ever have reason to, Samir? It is very easy for us as outsiders to portray the BCCI as this nameless, faceless Dark Empire, but is that the same for Sachin. Men like Raj Singh Dungarpur, Jaywant Lele, AC Muthiah were also part of the same Board we vilify. Were they not avuncular figures to Sachin in his salad days? Would it be so easy for him to take up cudgels against them.

  • Longmemory on October 16, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    Spot on Samir. There's another dimension to this which even if it does not exonerate Tendulkar's quiescence does perhaps explain it a bit. In many ways, he's never really had a chance to grow up and mature - mentally and emotionally - in a normal way. If you're a test cricketer at 17, and thereafter all you really know is an endless calendar of cricket, there isn't much opportunity to develop as a person. I can imagine a conversation with a Dravid or a Kumble that goes off cricketing topics and they would still hold their own. I have not heard Tendulkar say anything outside of cricket that struck me as insightful in any way. He's lived in a bubble created by powerful forces around him, including the BCCI, who all had a vested interest in leaving him be, so that he could do what he does best - score runs. Its unsurprising that he never felt it was his place to tell his handlers how to run things.

  • on October 16, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Very true. I doubt we will get a player of that stature again in Indian cricket who can stand for fellow cricketers and against the biggest bully of world cricket " BCCI". And knowing ( if not personally at-least through his actions over the years), I doubt he will question BCCI.

  • vswami on October 16, 2013, 7:47 GMT

    If there is one thing BCCI has done well, its that of taking care of players interests. What is it that they players have to complain against BCCI and fight for. They have done well and have been well rewarded and are happy, contrary to what the media argues. Even past cricketers who did not enjoy the riches of IPL have been compensated to varying degrees and even widows of ex-cricketers have been given monetary benefits to lead a decent life. Its the ones that are outside the Boards monetary ambit who are crying out against some perceived injustice. Today a first class cricketer representing his Ranji side can lead a decent life just by playing cricket and is far better off than any player in the history of Indian cricket ever was. So what imaginary injustice has BCCI done to players ?

  • on October 16, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    The only person after Gavaskar who was a player's player was Sourav Ganguly. But apart from the Chappell saga, whichj became personal, he didn't fight within. But he waged many battes against opponents, umpires & even match referees being banned on many occasions. During the major span, he had BCCI support during his struggles against the world. The Mike Denness issue is one such issue which comes to mind.

  • Ram2212 on October 16, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    Agreed 100% Vinjoy. I still remember how SRT played his cards well - he opened up in Press with a statement that "I love opening in ODIs". This spawned lots of discussions, and poor Ganguly had to let go of the opening slot; Sehwag was always going to be one opener. Ganguly would have given stiff competition to SRT if he continued to open the innings for sure. He even dominated SRT over a period of time when both were openers. Maybe Mumbai Genes always have some personal records/achievements/milestones in them.

  • Nmiduna on October 16, 2013, 6:23 GMT

    great article, i actually kind of hold a more aggressive view about him and few others who remain silent, but it is useless to present it here!

  • vinjoy on October 16, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    Forget about being a players' player... SRT did not even had the flexibility to adjust for team benefits. His reluctance to change bating position in ODIs, his elephant-in-the-room like sticking to batting-position 4 in test matches, and his well-known quest for personal milestones means that I am not surprised at your points. I never expected SRT to stand up for anything for that matter. This is one criteria that takes the sheen off of this great sportsman.

  • vinjoy on October 16, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    Forget about being a players' player... SRT did not even had the flexibility to adjust for team benefits. His reluctance to change bating position in ODIs, his elephant-in-the-room like sticking to batting-position 4 in test matches, and his well-known quest for personal milestones means that I am not surprised at your points. I never expected SRT to stand up for anything for that matter. This is one criteria that takes the sheen off of this great sportsman.

  • Nmiduna on October 16, 2013, 6:23 GMT

    great article, i actually kind of hold a more aggressive view about him and few others who remain silent, but it is useless to present it here!

  • Ram2212 on October 16, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    Agreed 100% Vinjoy. I still remember how SRT played his cards well - he opened up in Press with a statement that "I love opening in ODIs". This spawned lots of discussions, and poor Ganguly had to let go of the opening slot; Sehwag was always going to be one opener. Ganguly would have given stiff competition to SRT if he continued to open the innings for sure. He even dominated SRT over a period of time when both were openers. Maybe Mumbai Genes always have some personal records/achievements/milestones in them.

  • on October 16, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    The only person after Gavaskar who was a player's player was Sourav Ganguly. But apart from the Chappell saga, whichj became personal, he didn't fight within. But he waged many battes against opponents, umpires & even match referees being banned on many occasions. During the major span, he had BCCI support during his struggles against the world. The Mike Denness issue is one such issue which comes to mind.

  • vswami on October 16, 2013, 7:47 GMT

    If there is one thing BCCI has done well, its that of taking care of players interests. What is it that they players have to complain against BCCI and fight for. They have done well and have been well rewarded and are happy, contrary to what the media argues. Even past cricketers who did not enjoy the riches of IPL have been compensated to varying degrees and even widows of ex-cricketers have been given monetary benefits to lead a decent life. Its the ones that are outside the Boards monetary ambit who are crying out against some perceived injustice. Today a first class cricketer representing his Ranji side can lead a decent life just by playing cricket and is far better off than any player in the history of Indian cricket ever was. So what imaginary injustice has BCCI done to players ?

  • on October 16, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Very true. I doubt we will get a player of that stature again in Indian cricket who can stand for fellow cricketers and against the biggest bully of world cricket " BCCI". And knowing ( if not personally at-least through his actions over the years), I doubt he will question BCCI.

  • Longmemory on October 16, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    Spot on Samir. There's another dimension to this which even if it does not exonerate Tendulkar's quiescence does perhaps explain it a bit. In many ways, he's never really had a chance to grow up and mature - mentally and emotionally - in a normal way. If you're a test cricketer at 17, and thereafter all you really know is an endless calendar of cricket, there isn't much opportunity to develop as a person. I can imagine a conversation with a Dravid or a Kumble that goes off cricketing topics and they would still hold their own. I have not heard Tendulkar say anything outside of cricket that struck me as insightful in any way. He's lived in a bubble created by powerful forces around him, including the BCCI, who all had a vested interest in leaving him be, so that he could do what he does best - score runs. Its unsurprising that he never felt it was his place to tell his handlers how to run things.

  • on October 16, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    Did he ever have reason to, Samir? It is very easy for us as outsiders to portray the BCCI as this nameless, faceless Dark Empire, but is that the same for Sachin. Men like Raj Singh Dungarpur, Jaywant Lele, AC Muthiah were also part of the same Board we vilify. Were they not avuncular figures to Sachin in his salad days? Would it be so easy for him to take up cudgels against them.

  • switchmitch on October 16, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    Why should he choose to become the voice of other players? He is a player, not the saviour of the cricketing world. Why should we expect him to be the paragon of virtue by dint of his action and deed? He is just a player, who has been blessed with genius abilities in his craft. If he chooses to remain mute about the shenanigans of higher powers, it is his choice, a pragmatic one.

    These expectations are a result of the fans choosing to place Tendulkar on a pedestal that is taller than the game he served. We choose to treat him like a Demigod and expect him to be perfect. This is wrong.

    For some of us fans (and am sure there are a few like me), Tendulkar will remain a great player. Once in a generation genius who was the absolute best in his pomp. We also realize that he has his flaws and is certainly no demigod. To expect him to take on the establishment and live up to his hyped status is really not fair.

  • RAJEESHKUMAR on October 16, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    Mr Vinjoy, I cant agree with u. SRT batted at no 4 in many ODIs, but they resulted in failure, both him & the openers. How many Indian players you can point out as good ODI openers apart from Ganguly, Sehwag & Gambhir. Now, even after one year from the retirement of SRT, did India find a stable opening combination? Before SRT & Ganguly which was the stable opening pair of India? Look the situation in test matches. Apart from Kohli, Pujara & now Dhawan, can you find any replacements for SRT, Ganguly, Laxman & Dravid. After that we can discuss about the no. 4 position of SRT. Which player do you think lost chance by the no 4 position of SRT. Can you point out a player who changed his batting position for the team when he is in form. Why Clarke is reluctant to leave the no. 5 position for aus? One should understand that for a player in action for so long, records are bound to come. e.g for SRT to deny the record for being the 1st indian to score 50k runs, he should stop to score runs.