The dawn of a new era
With the curtains closing on Sachin Tendulkar's illustrious career, Sidin Vadukut, writing for Quartz, believes that the batsmen's retirement can reinvigorate Indian cricket.
Many Indian cricket fans finally have the opportunity to enjoy the sport afresh. Without the baggage of divinity or perfection. It will not be easy. The questions and comparisons and benchmarks will persist a little. But they will go away. No longer will we have one individual making up for collective confusion. No longer will we have the game within making up for the game without. Those shadows will recede.
Writing for New York Times, Tunku Varadarajan opines that Tendulkar should have retired immediately after the 2011 World Cup, and that his god-like status in the game forced his hand and made him play longer than he should have.
In purely sporting terms, however, he is but a shadow of his old self, in which he shone as one of the three or four finest players cricket has produced in its long, languorous history. He is now merely a "good" or "better than average" player. Had he been only 24 and this proficient, he'd be an honest contender for a place on the national team. But he is now so much less good than he once was that, when he plays, the more dispassionate among us can see only an ugly gulf between Sachin's apogee and his plateau.
Steve Tignor, writing for Tennis, lays a staunch defense against Varadarajan's argument, using Roger Federer as a case point for comparison.
I don't know whether that's a valid criticism or not, though from this outsider's perspective, it seems harsh. I hope the writer at least doesn't begrudge Tendulkar playing long enough to win a World Cup. As a tennis journalist, of course, the story reminds me of Roger Federer's. If Indian athletes are encouraged to hang on too long, the opposite is often true in our sport. At the first sign of vulnerability, we in the press swoop in with some version of the R question: "When are you going to retire?" "Have you thought about hanging it up?" "Will you keep playing after this year?" "What's left for you to do now?" At a certain point, star players know that every time they lose, they're going to hear words to this effect afterward.