Rob Steen
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Sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Being undroppable

A legend agonises over his life's quandaries

Rob Steen

December 12, 2012

Comments: 167 | Text size: A | A

Sachin Tendulkar gets a standing ovation of the MCG, Australia v India, 1st Test, Melbourne, 4th day, December 29, 2011
To go or to stay? For oneself or for one's fans? © AFP
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Teams: India

Ex-captain's Log, December 12, 10.35pm
God, I feel awful. Not as awful, of course, as the tens of millions of Indians who don't have enough food to eat or clothes to wear, but a darned sight more awful than Duncan felt after that finger-wagging.

KP thinks it's hard being him. He should jolly well try being me. Just for one day. Try not being able to walk down the street to the newsagent without an armed guard. Try being the subject of hundreds of millions of daily prayers. Try being seen as perfect in every possible way. Try being undroppable.

Normally I don't do self-pity but today I felt as bad as I've ever felt. Here I am, deep in the worst trough of my career, playing for a team that appears to regard defeat as an unfortunate inconvenience in the headlong pursuit of money. Here I am, going out to bat, fearful - of embarrassment, of failure, of fear itself. Here I am, 39 years of age, standing in a field for hours on end, wondering whether a grown man should stop playing games and do something with his life. Not that I've got many ideas about what that something might be. Or even one. I'd drop me, but I'm undroppable.

I've been down this road before. The only thing keeping me going now, reducing my fear of tomorrow, is that the common link is Nagpur. It was there, in November 2008, on the eve of the fourth Test against Australia, that I found myself at a similar crossroads.

Although I'd been in the runs and I'd passed Lara's record Test aggregate and the series had been won, I'd made some errors and didn't feel on top of my game. Actually, having made only five hundreds in my last 33 Tests and 57 innings, I hadn't felt on top of it for quite a long time. Besides, it was Sourav's final Test and that made me wonder all the more. He'd started more than half a decade after me and he'd had enough. He should have tried being me. So I found myself wondering whether it was all worth it. In the nets, in the shower, in bed. Wondering and agonising and not sleeping.

So, on the night before that Nagpur Test, I sent an email to my managers. I've still got it somewhere. Let me see… ah, there it is…

Enough guys. Can't do this anymore. Tell them this is my final Test. I won't be good enough for the 2011 World Cup, so let's make it a complete retirement. Time to leave the nest.

They tried to dissuade me, naturally. That was their job. Still got the reply… right here…

Please calm down. Think clearly. Sure, you're not his biggest fan, but don't steal Sourav's thunder. Think how it will look if you suddenly quit at the same time. Let's just take it one match at a time.

The rest, of course, is history. They won me round, I made 109, a couple of weeks later came the Mumbai bombings and then retirement simply wasn't an option. I wanted to, had to, pull something out of the hat against England in Chennai, something that cheered people up a bit, and I did. Farewell doubt. Farewell hesitation. Hello duty.

This time it's different. Back then I played for a good team, a winning team, a driven team. We had mountains to climb, and beating Australia in that series was a massive one conquered. Back then I still had mountains to climb. I wanted to be the first to 40 Test hundreds. I wanted to be the first to make 17 Test hundreds in India, beating ol' Sunny (hah!). I wanted to beat Allan Border's record of 90 Test scores of 50 or more. And I accomplished all that in that single innings: talk about the power of the bat! But even after all that I had more mountains to climb. I wanted to set records no one would ever beat.

 
 
Whether I like it or not, I'm the face of Indian cricket. I'm the reason all those deals are done... I'm almost certainly the single biggest crowd-puller the world has ever known, in any sport, in any arena
 

It couldn't be more different now. We've been the No. 1 Test side, we've won the World Cup, we've shown the world that Indian cricket can compete consistently with the very best, and often dominate, but now we're sliding. Rahul, Anil and VVS have gone. MS, Harbhajan and Viru are going. Good-but-far-from-great teams are making us look exceedingly silly. And I've set records that no one will ever beat. Something's missing. Call it hunger. I guess that's what happens when you've conquered all those mountains, though how can you not blame the IPL? How can you learn how to want to bat for a day, let alone actually do it, if it pays more to bat for 20 overs?

There's a part of me that wants to prove everyone wrong, prove I still have what it takes, prove I can still put a smile on hundreds of millions of faces with a cover drive, prove that a happy Sachin is a happy India. There's another part of me that wants to tell the world, right now, that this will be my final match for India, come what may. There's another part of me that wants to walk away this instant, leave this room, walk down the hall, jump in the lift, hail a taxi, pick my family up, take them to the airport and fly out to a remote island where they don't have the internet or Twitter and they've never heard of cricket. Forever. And there's another part of me that knows that none of this is up to me.

Last year, a couple of hours after the World Cup final, just as I was wondering whether this would be the time to go, the perfect time to go, I received a text from Delhi. Now let's see… ah, here it is…

Please, please, PLEASE don't think of retiring. Wait a couple more years. We need you. Cricket needs you. India needs you. Hang around and we'll do another massive TV deal which should ease us through when you do go. Without you, Indian cricket could be sunk.

I knew he was right. Not because I'm so full of myself I think the world can't live without me. And not because I think I'm the reason Indian cricket conquered the world. But whether I like it or not, I'm the face of Indian cricket. I'm the reason all those deals are done and all those crores flood in. This is only just this second occurring to me, but I'm almost certainly the single biggest crowd-puller the world has ever known, in any sport, in any arena. I'm also the reason the BCCI controls the game, and I don't like that at all, but that's not enough reason to leave hundreds of millions in the lurch. I must help secure the future. Even Viv couldn't manage that, and I know how bad he feels about it.

I've been thinking a lot about fame lately. Everyone wants it, craves it, lusts for it, but very few know how to cope when it barges in. And it never knocks, never waits to be invited in, never gives you an option. It brings responsibilities, obligations and duties, sometimes on an unimaginable scale. And when you feel yourself hanging on, clinging on by the very tips of your fingernails, living solely on past glories, being indulged and tolerated, fame is even more of a curse.

I want it to be easy come, easy go - but will they let me? I don't want to disappoint them and end like this. I don't want to disappoint anyone. I don't want to embarrass those who keep faith in me when the bad times bite. I don't want to make my family's life any more public or any more impossible than it already is. If nothing else, I owe them all - and, yes, dammit, I owe myself - one final, glorious performance. One final hurrah.

But then you find yourself so out of sorts you get to a point when you're scratching your way to 76 and it feels like a triumph. When bowlers are deciding where you hit the ball. When you can't remember the last time batting felt natural or when timing was within your grasp. And all that's complicated a million-fold in my case because:

a) Pakistan are coming over for the first time in forever,
b) Because I'm me. The idol. The untouchable. The undroppable.

Duty can be a savage mistress.

Right now, if you gave me a choice between staying and going, I'd run. As far as I could, as fast as I could. To the hills, to the sea, to the desert. It wouldn't matter. But I know I've got to stay. It's my duty. It's my cross. I have no option but to bear it, but not for much longer. I've had enough. Ricky going has made it all the clearer: I don't want to limp out.

Think positive. A hundred in Nagpur, square the series, then rest up and man up for Pakistan. Finish on a high and I can end this agony and go in peace. No one could make me feel guilty about that, no one. Not even Ravi.

I can see it now, feel it now. One final city-hop: Chennai, Kolkata then Delhi, walking in to bat buoyed by Roy Harper's reassuring words:

"When the moment comes and the gathering stands and the clock turns back to reflect
On the years of grace as those footsteps trace for the last time out of the act
Well this way of life's recollection, the hallowed strip in the haze
The fabled men and the noonday sun are much more than just yarns of their days."

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

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Posted by funnykumar on (December 15, 2012, 23:14 GMT)

Thank you Rob.. Respect you for Respecting the Master..:)

Posted by AwesomeSanket on (December 15, 2012, 17:03 GMT)

This is the best article i have ever read in cricinfo n mind u i have read quite a few. It has everything about the greatest cicketer the game of cricket has ever produced. Being Sachin is something nobody can even imagine. what he receives for every failure n what every his success means to India is something which cannot be described in words. He is one man who is required to answer questions even after 23 years of sublime service to the nation. Whatever may his fate be,whatever transforms from now on,no matter how his retirement and all are dealt with, the fact remains that he has touched billions of hearts & made his unique place on all of them,a place that will never be replaced,never perish,he will be remembered for all the smiles and moment of joy he gave to the fans of the country who gave him the status of the Almighty. SACHIN- You r the best thing happened to Indian cricket. Thankyou ROB for such an amazing article.

Posted by Tumbarumbar on (December 15, 2012, 13:46 GMT)

A brilliantly written piece by Rob that a number of readers appear to have misinterpreted. This article doesn't tell Sachin to retire or criticize him in the slightest instead it tries to show, through the use of a clever literary device, the incredible pressures faced by this most famous and special of sportsmen every day of his life, pressures that grow in proportion to political and social events outside his control. The author writes the truth, such a man can't retire at the peak of his powers nor will he ever be left out while he is still contributing in some way. The obligation he must feel, as the article describes must be crushing and he is some sort of man to stand up to it. Perhaps only Don Bradman would know of similar pressure regarding retirement, not that Bradman ever had form issues, but not even he had half a world on his shoulders.

Posted by   on (December 15, 2012, 12:21 GMT)

continued - May be it is because of the amount he has played and does not know what to do after cricket.Ganguly once said that he doesn't remember Sachin having NOT scored a test hundred in a series.Series in England, Australia, at home vs NZ and England now. He has been torrid by any Standards and by Sachin's standard he doesn't look like a test batsman. The fifties that he scored are scratchy.Sachin was pure quality. Now he seems to search for more quantity that takes away his qualities.Sachin thinks that it is the selectors call. The selectors are not going to make a call. It is him who has to decide he is good enough. For now impasse seems to continue.

Posted by   on (December 15, 2012, 12:21 GMT)

I have been watching Sachin ever since he plundered Abdul Qadir in that exhibition Match in 1989. That was the first time I felt there was someone better than Viv Richards that could decimate a bowling attack. Those were really good days. I have never seen him hit a trough like this. He had something similar in 2007. But he had at least 3-4 years left then. Sachin himself admitted he is taking it series by series. There is no one to blame but for Sachin who gives room to write him off. Great players fade into glory which Sachin is searching for. Bradman quit when he was not able to score 100's consistently.Lara and Viv Richards quit when they was not able dominate bowlers at will.Rahul Dravid Quit when bowlers started breaching his defense.Laxman quit when he found his silken touch was fading.Sachin feels he is not a quitter and not give up. But the fact is he has faded from Bright red to light orange.

Posted by jay57870 on (December 15, 2012, 12:16 GMT)

Rob - What crime or scandal is Sachin guilty of? Staying? Going? In today's world of doping, match-fixing, phone-hacking, bribery & all the rest! LOL! Steen's "Ex-captain's Log" is yet another Tendulkar inquisition. It's a nuanced copycat attempt to throw "mirror, mirror on the wall" darts at the Little Master in his worst moments of vulnerability. But Steen misses it completely. If "Duty can be a savage mistress" is his biggest crime, then which way is Rob's moral compass pointed? Any surprise he opens with a cheap salvo at India's poor millions? Or that he quotes an obscure English musician to make his "undroppable" case? Yes, the great man is down & struggling. But he's not a quitter. Sachin running away? How ludicrous! If there's any poet who can capture the very essence of Tendulkar, then it's got to be in the great Robert Frost's expressive words: "The woods are lovely, dark and deep; But I have promises to keep; And miles to go before I sleep; And miles to go before I sleep"!!

Posted by   on (December 15, 2012, 9:17 GMT)

Wonderfu sarcasm! Sachin perhaps has in his mind to add a couple of more feathers to his already Feathered Cap.He wishes to be the first Father-Son duo to grace the cricket field! Arjun get ready soon. another totally against his wish--Maximum DUCKS!

Posted by RAJA_06 on (December 14, 2012, 19:50 GMT)

Good Article....the selection panel has different yardsticks for different players. Dravid has been so consistent in the series against WI & ENG but he was forced to quit just for 1 series failure. Why not the same for Sachin, who has become a big liabiity in the team for over 2 years?

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 15:40 GMT)

I think this is the second time I have ever responded to a comment, but I feel compelled to point out that any sarcasm perceived is entirely unintended.

Posted by SachinM7 on (December 14, 2012, 10:47 GMT)

Sorry Mr. Rob Steen i dont really agree with you.. i dont think u can read his mind.. and i think no one can.. It is very easy to criticise him but after all its very difficult for you to stand with the legend and support him .. it is because you can never read the minds of his true supporters..

Posted by manxspike on (December 14, 2012, 3:26 GMT)

Mildly Amusing article with brilliant use of sarcasm! What i can't understand tho is why our Indian friends don't find this upsetting!

Posted by Cricfan_99 on (December 13, 2012, 21:48 GMT)

Here we go again - yet another Pom blaming the IPL for all the ills n evils of the world !!!! I thought KP was being naive when he said that the POMS were jealous of the IPL.. didn't realize that until i read this article Rob .. Good work i must say on the sachin piece....am i the only one who senses bitter sarcasm here.... just goes to show how short sighted and downright sadistic some so called "sport writers" are....Pity - i thought cricinfo had some good writers.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 19:47 GMT)

Whatever said and done.. being a true Sachin fan, It is true that every time he comes out to bat, I get a huge smile, everytime he gets out, my day is dull... I mean, people and the world and the entire cricket community may have tilted towards the economic face of cricket, but Sachin just continues to gain my respect... it is because only a very very very few of those billoins of his fans can truly understand what he is doing for us.. others just may bring statistics and reports... but that does not change the truth about his passion, his game or anything about him... With dravid and laxman also gone, he is back to being the only one who truly cares and worries abt indian cricket, the others are too high and full on their financial commitments.. Sachin, if u r seeing this BY ANY MIRACLE, we love u sir.. as unnatural it may sound, but we will never want to see u go..

Posted by cricket-india on (December 13, 2012, 17:58 GMT)

SRT's next goal - the 200th test. no relief for indian cricket till then...and who know what lies beyond? his legions of worshippers will find more perfect numbers for him to achieve - how about a total of 1000 international matches???

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 14:49 GMT)

Kallis has best chance to overtake SRTs Test Hundreds, especially if he limits his bowling to stay at the top of his batting game. In the future, Cook could overtake SRT in Tests. SRTs ODI records seem secure. SRT was striking the ball well in Australia. It seems like the retirement of RD and VVS has suddenly put the pressure on SRT. He was also lacking match practise when he started this season after a long break.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 14:01 GMT)

Being Sachin..!!! Who thought it would be so difficult to be who you are after doing all what you have done over 2 decades.

Posted by JackN on (December 13, 2012, 13:12 GMT)

I can and cannot agree with the author. The general consensus is Sachin should play. Whether he should retire or not is best left to board-which will not take action in nation that produces so few achievers to start with. The author starts off with a rather rash remark on India-forgetting the plunder of wealth of India by British for 300 years-yet you have economic problems in 60 years since you left India!!! In a contest of British versus India-it is easy win for India culturally or historical influence wise and that contest can be done any day. The author should check his memory and know that this generation of England and Indian youth-including commenting here have not seen England ever dominatiing India-not that Indian team was the best-it was always average-but to say how pathetic England team was! Whether people like it not -test cricket is gone-thats the harsh truth of economics-T20 is the future-yes Sachin knows it and also the salary dependent worksmen on the grounds.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 12:38 GMT)

Very touching and great article Rob !!!

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (December 13, 2012, 11:44 GMT)

Nothing new but the title of the article says it all. Currently only Kallis is within distance of Tendulkar's test centuries but as seen in the recent England and Australia, Kallis has not been at his best. Only a couple of years younger than Tendulkar so it's hard to say whether being a truly great and genuine all-rounder is taken its toll on him or if it's a temporary phase. But if he's fit, in form and can play another couple of years to score 4 centuries in each of those years plus 1 extra will be all he needs to overtake Tendulkar. I would be surprised if Tendulkar retired before Kallis does or until he adds to his centuries tally. But however he goes he should go. Too late for 'always leave 'em wanting more' and 'why did you retire then?' Nasser Hussain timed it right for himself after an unbeaten century at Lord's. Sachin 's ideal opportunity was after the WC win last year.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 10:05 GMT)

This is for people who think this great man is Selfish!! and plays for hundereds - Total matched Test + ODI = 100 where he scored 100 Total Matches won - 53 Total matches Lost - 26 Total Draws - 20 N/R - 1

Now you decide who benefits from the centuries, if you still feel he is selfish then there is no point in arguing!!!

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 10:03 GMT)

Extremelly well written article. SRT will remain forever the face of Indian Cricket. There is no question about his greatness. But, people, no one is perfect, so as Sachin. It very very difficult to be Sachin, an extraordinary human being.

Posted by CricFan24 on (December 13, 2012, 9:37 GMT)

Extremely naive comments from the likes of greatkhan, CricketFirstLove, Scott Jones etc.....Revealing either a warped bias or completely ignorance re. Tendulkar.

Posted by greatkhan on (December 13, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

Dear All, Sachin was a crowd puller but he is not crowd puller anymore. Please dont say single biggest crowd puller, because i think no one in any sports pulled crowds better than MOHAMMED ALI, Boxer. Also, with the amount of money involved in Indian Cricket, i dont think people would want to retire rather they have to be forced into retirement, unless you are Imran Khan. So, please guys expect Sachin to continue for some time more.......................................

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 7:09 GMT)

Great article. It is hard to be Sachin. Anything less than a hundred is a failure for Sachin (according to us the fans). So, for all that he has handled he is a master and a legend. As an ardent fan of him since the time I first saw him in full flow (96 WC), I really wish he goes out on a high, though it seems unlikely. Whatever, he is the greatest cricketer of all time and I liked the words "almost certainly the single biggest crowd-puller the world has ever known, in any sport, in any arena", nothing means more in cricket.

Posted by VivtheGreatest on (December 13, 2012, 6:04 GMT)

Very well written article about an absolute legend. He is without doubt the greatest batsman this country has produced to date and I for one want to see him leave on his own terms now, rather than being dropped as is the case with so many great Indian cricketers of the past. For all of us who have seen him play since the age of 16 he has nothing left to prove and should leave now with dignity. But its gonna be a very long time before World Cricket again finds a player like him.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 5:43 GMT)

wonderful article rob, absolutely great i hope they (media) stop being obnoxious about him, and try be him, try be unstoppable...

Posted by CricketFirstLove on (December 13, 2012, 4:31 GMT)

Tendulkar is no match either to Lara or even Ponting. They played for their teams but Tendulkar plays for his centuries. Let Kallis retire he will put up the boots the next day. One mus learn selfishness from him. He is blocking one slot and not letting the youngsters a chance to groom. He is losing all respect we had for him. If he doesn't go now he must be shown the door. High time. I hope that 76 in the last Test does not allow him to play another 4 series ie about 20 Tests. Did we not sack Azharuddin from captaincy and dropped him when his last score was 87 in Tests and 68 in one day (world cup). So why do we hesitate to drop him. Drop him once he will come to his senses.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 4:21 GMT)

Very touching article by Rob. But a point no one seemed to notice is even SACHIN is in bad form of his lifetime, he is yet ready to fight, risk his unflinching reputation for the love & commitment of the game and his team.This alone makes him a true Warrior! His time may have come and in coming few days he may go but no one can say he didn't try hard or too hard ! Long live Sachin and may this lean patch come to an end and we could see another couple of years of GLORY of the MASTER and Indian Cricket. Amen...

Posted by maddy20 on (December 13, 2012, 1:41 GMT)

@Rob Steen "Here I am, deep in the worst trough of my career, playing for a team that appears to regard defeat as an unfortunate inconvenience in the headlong pursuit of money." How about playing for a young inexperienced team which has lost several of its best players in a short span of 2 years(Kumble, Harbhajan, Dravid, Laxman, Zaheer hell everyone but Sachin, Sehwag and Gambhir)? Its amazing how the English media never misses a chance to belittle India at every opportunity they get, even while praising someone! Don't forget that your beloved England is one test away from a great record "Team that has lost more tests than anyone else this calendar year". What do you make of that? Every team goes through a rough patch. Even the mighty Aussies got beaten at home by SA and Eng, they were thrashed 2-0 by India(twice) in India. This young Indian team will soon be back to its best very soon. Watchout!

Posted by monivin on (December 13, 2012, 0:31 GMT)

Great Article. It looks like Sachin himself dictated it to Rob. Good one to read, gave me a feeling of reading an autobigraphy.

Posted by IndianSRTfan on (December 13, 2012, 0:02 GMT)

@Pradip Dhole: This man,SRT, is not a stone but a rock around which the entire Indian Cricket Team was built. You missed the point of the article completely. Be thank-less of course. Thats what we Indians do right? It started with Kumble and will end with Tendulkar. And mark my words it will be a LONG time before the 'talented youngsters' that every short sighted expert wants to be in team right now, will be able to bring us the same glory that these five selfless cricketers brought. Wonderful article. Only Sachin can bear being Sachin. And that too for over two decades. Good Luck SRT, we will always love you no matter what happens from now on.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 23:50 GMT)

I can see a golden duck coming up for Tendulkar, and despite calls for him to be dropped, he will continue to play on in vain, in search of the magical 200 Test match mark. The team should always come before the individual but sadly, this is not the case when it comes to Tendulkar.

Posted by BG4cricket on (December 12, 2012, 23:50 GMT)

Rob - unquestionably one of the finest articles I have read

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 23:37 GMT)

Many dieties put a tilaka on their forehead, he can put one shaped like three vertical lines as opposed to the vibuti 3 horizontal bands.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 23:29 GMT)

I got a place for Tendulkar. America. He can be a God here, giving regular broadcasts to his fans in India, with a bat in one hand and his helmet in the other.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 23:28 GMT)

Well done Rob, really beautifully captured tale of the prisoner's dilemma sachin is going through, god of indian cricket wants to finish it on a high but he is not getting that opportunity, world cup was one good occasion, next up was when he made century of centuries but lost to bangladesh and were out of final of asia cup, then afterwards no good opportunity came........wish he can really end up on a high...if anyone deserves it..surely its Mr. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 23:18 GMT)

I almost cried reading this...so beautifully captured the thoughts that the master might be having right now...when he walks out to Bat in Nagpur...could this be his last...he only knows.. :( :( But this article is depressing :(. Having said that, I guess every critic of his should read it and then think of all the nonsense that they have uttered about the most selfless cricketer in the world A person who doesn't give up on his duties no matter what his Form is. Really lucky to have been lived through his era...an era that is about to end very shortly :(

Posted by ac_Indian on (December 12, 2012, 22:52 GMT)

Yet another writer feels the need of floating into the sea of assumptions, assumptions such as "a team that appears to regard defeat as an unfortunate inconvenience in the headlong pursuit of money". I wonder what epiphany makes you people come out with such conclusions. I can do the same: "I am a writer, I am possibly heading into a writer's block or I need something that has a chance of being read by a massive number of readers. I need something that can create a response, some publicity, something people like to talk a lot about these days something which is in fashion. Oh yes here it is: why don't I write about Sachin, the IPL, the money in Indian cricket. So what if I make some morbid assumptions like "the Indians play for money". Thank god for the Indian cricket. Thank god for Sachin. Not for their contributions, but for their struggles. I am saved. My name is Rob".

Posted by jever03 on (December 12, 2012, 22:15 GMT)

Great article Rob. Tendulkar should have retired after the World Cup win last year. That was the best possible moment. Instead his will to continue lead to the retirement of the only reliable in-form-batsman Dravid who also gave a better example to the team with his diligence and team play. But I think he should tell the Indian public about his plans and motivations, they deserve it and will back his decision. Sachin, if a sportsman is as great as you are,it's really not important when you quit - the legacy remains (who remembers Michael Jordan's sorry comebacks or Dino Zoff's pitiful last years and who will remember Michael Schumacher for driving a little to long). The sooner you stop, the more elegant it will end.

Posted by CricketChat on (December 12, 2012, 21:56 GMT)

For his own sake, a pair might make up his mind for good.

Posted by anshu.s on (December 12, 2012, 20:06 GMT)

I can't but feel amazed by fellow Indians who are waxing lyrical about this article. Rob Steen opening statement itself is condescending and patronising enough for every Indian to raise a red flag . Even if we move over that there is a refrence to Indian cricketers pursuit of money as if other cricketers from the world play for charity and love of game alone. It is not BCCI's fault that cricket is so far behind Football in popularity terms in England, heck it may be behind rugby also. They say English Premier league with all it's money ,glamour popularity is terriffic while IPL is crass and vulgar where you bat for just 20 overs as Rob puts it.Why we Indians should be apologetic about our preference for shorter formats of the game, why do we have take barely thinly veiled sarcasms from an Englishmen.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 19:28 GMT)

David Rutherford is right. Tendulkar knows that Test cricket is dying, or at least will be played far less often in the future. So whatever runs, centuries, records the top active batsman has, will last forever.

Kallis *is* a little too close for comfort with the number of centuries, particularly since he is still scoring them at a brisk enough pace. The run aggregate is probably safe, but not by much.

So as long as Kallis shows no signs of slowing down, Tendulkar will play till he is dropped.

He has no such fears in the ODI records. There is no active player close by.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 18:11 GMT)

wonderfully written..

Posted by RaviNarla on (December 12, 2012, 18:06 GMT)

@David Rutherford - You hit the nail right on its head. He has got 200 tests to complete and another ODI century for the stats. That will make 50 ODI centuries, 50 Test Centuries and 200 Tests.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 17:53 GMT)

Great article !! He deserves one final hurrah

Posted by linusjee on (December 12, 2012, 17:45 GMT)

Who says its Sachin? Clearly its Bhajji he's talking about.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 17:39 GMT)

I realize its time to retire and follow my legendary teammates,but i am still fit and deliver my everything on field.I don't know to live a day without cricket.

Posted by samsonxf1234 on (December 12, 2012, 17:26 GMT)

If Sachin thought so much he would have been depressed... I like the article for the thoughts expressed But i really dont think Sachin thought this way

Posted by cricket-india on (December 12, 2012, 17:09 GMT)

the problem with SRT worshippers - sid monga included - is that they see the calls for him to go as an insult and backstab in return for all his glorious achievements; guys, grow up. do you want SRT to stick around as an incompetent and wretched batsman falling to every tom, dick and harry bowler he would have bossed in his heyday? do you want SRT - who stood up to mcgrath, warne, akram, waqar, akhtar, pollock, donald, steyn and murali in their pomp - to be dominated by the panesars and siddles of today? will that elevate his stature in your eyes, in the eyes of posterity? kapil hobbled to 434 wkts but we remember him for his hobble as much as for his 434. why should SRT make the same mistake? a 50 here and a 50 there mea nothing; even vvs got 66 in oz on his last tour but he's remembered for his epic failure . take all the arguments everyone ever had for dravid and vvs to retire; apply them to SRT. if he ticks all the boxes dravid and vvs did, he's gotta go; as open and shut as that.

Posted by rivernile on (December 12, 2012, 17:09 GMT)

@ luvcricket_new_gen - I am a big fan of Tendulkar, but "the greatest cricketer of all time" is a term, still, reserved for the Don! Tendulkar is certainly one of the biggest stars ever to play (and in the future- to have played) the game. But I think, the biggest accomplishment for him, is not the WC or all the records, but the he made Indian cricket into a force to be reckoned with.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 17:07 GMT)

A neatly written article, without annoying anyone, but clearly stating the current situation of the Indian cricket selectors and fans from Sachin's eyes.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 17:00 GMT)

lovely stuff and so great to read someone quote from the greatest song/poem ever written about the greatest game

Posted by rameshkan on (December 12, 2012, 16:51 GMT)

Excellent piece, rob.As we have been for all these years, let's be patient for a few more tests. There's always light at the end of the tunnel!

Posted by andrewstrauss on (December 12, 2012, 16:40 GMT)

Very Clever Article. Amazing.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 16:35 GMT)

Very good article... People who curses sachin has to understand what they will be doing with all those thoughts and situations.. Everybody will face these kind of situations in a day to day life(may be much smaller) but it is the basic values, passions, dedications, clarity of thoughts and honesty which carries us past those obstucles..there will be always people around to praise & Curse him but nobody can really be Sachin...but ultimately from their inner heart they all like him and one type of people can tolerate his failures and the others cannot but both of these kind of people were in really in awe of him from their heart and they cannot accept a "Sachin Failure"...

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 16:26 GMT)

wonderful one.........The UNDROPPABLE - you have hit it absolutely on the head.

Posted by CricFan0101 on (December 12, 2012, 16:20 GMT)

Sachin is still playing because he still loves cricket. If his only motivation were a sense of duty, he wouldn't be playing and trying to win every IPL game and even Ranji games. I have to disagree with the conclusions this article has come up with about Sachin's mindset. Having known of him since he was 14, his biggest motivator has always been cricket, perhaps even bigger than India.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 16:15 GMT)

Great article. Would be good to find out from Sachin if all this is true. His persepctive might even make it better. However, this is one of the best article I have read on Sachin.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 16:03 GMT)

Rob, I agree it's definitely time Sachin needs to decide on his future but this ain't the way we ask him to. I see only sarcasm floating across the article. For heavens sake, people need to understand that one does not play for records after 23 freaking years. Yes, these articles are definitely needed coz there's no point in having only ones that glorify Sachin; still, it hurts when everyone suddenly look at him as somebody who is not worthy to hold a bat. We can only opine our views coz end of the day, it's his call and whether one likes it or not, he will call the shots.. He has earned the rights, a fanatic view although..

Posted by mcsdl on (December 12, 2012, 15:57 GMT)

Kallis will beat all his records... So Mr. Tendulkar do not retire until Kallis retires. Because without for your records history wont remember you. But we will though, coz we admired you above others for your stroke play and it was wonderful to watch, but in recent time your stroke play dont look exciting either, but you have already gone into millions of fans' hearts.. So try to play your old game (stroke playing) and retire after Kallis retires coz u aint going to get dropped anyway (still u may need to score 50+ score in the next game)

Posted by RAJA_06 on (December 12, 2012, 15:48 GMT)

BCCI is playing the spoilt sport and persisting with Sachin. Ofcourse, he is the finest batsman, but how long will he hang around? BCCI and Sachin are more worried may be Kallis goes past his record. After all records are meant to be broken. What's wrong with that? Sachin definitely past his prime. It's too late....wake up guys!!!

Posted by baghels.a on (December 12, 2012, 15:35 GMT)

Enough of this money angle, who dosen't strive for money in there life, yes most knowledgeable Indian fans know about Sachin playing on because not selectors or board are afraid to take him on but for the simple reason his popularity among the Indians and hero-worshipping, personality cult exibited by us has elevated to him such a status that TV companies and sponsors can't fathom Indian cricket prospering without him- think of falling TRP ratings and half-empty seats in the test arena .What is with the sly refrence to the IPL,English media suffers from double standards when it comes to mighty English Premier league (which can pay you 20 to 40 times more salary than IPL or any T-20 league) your media keeps shouting from the rooftops how it is the most popular,richest, most watched Football league in the world which goes for 9 months in an year has a debiliating effect on national teams but find IPL crass,vile something which is destroying test cricket !! classic doublespeak i say ....

Posted by sunnydays on (December 12, 2012, 15:31 GMT)

Mr. Steen probably has never read or heard of the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata. However his brillinat description of Sachin here seems straight out of Mahabharata-it sounds like Mr. Steen is describing Bhishma Pitamah-the aging warrior who despite his dislike is drawn to a war that he doesnt support because it is his duty, and he cant walk away!

Posted by rcontra on (December 12, 2012, 15:27 GMT)

Fantastic! "I'm almost certainly the single biggest crowd-puller the world has ever known, in any sport, in any arena". Think about all the sports celebrities around the world. This statement is certainly true. Even Ricky Pointing or Steve Waugh never got standing ovation in Australia like Sachin got when he comes out to bat (mind you he is still on 0).

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 15:08 GMT)

Tendulkar will not retire because kallis is near to equalling his record 3 more good years and kallis will have overtaken Tendulkar in test runs and centuries.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 15:03 GMT)

Wow! One of the best articles!

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 14:50 GMT)

Try being the subject of hundreds of millions of daily prayers.... Awesome article Rob... unspoken and non critic Sachin...

Posted by Indian_Cricket_Fanatic on (December 12, 2012, 14:45 GMT)

Very lovely article. We all would want to know, what must go on in sachin's head and it summed it up pretty well if not perfectly. I found this bit very funny "No one could make me feel guilty about that, no one. Not even Ravi....." LMFAO ....Ravi does that too indians. He always speaks against Indian team while commentating. Maybe be he's really afraid of the commentator's curse.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 14:43 GMT)

The part about "tens of millions of Indians with no food and clothes" is offensive. I don't why everyone is missing it.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 14:42 GMT)

Great article that completely misses the point about why Sachin continues to play cricket. If Sachin is undroppable, perhaps we need selectors with more testicular fortitude - or even better, some genuine talents who can replace the great man. We haven't even found a good replacement for Ganguly!

I'd much rather see Sachin play to his hearts content and then be forcibly shoved out of the team because a suitable replacement has come along. Great warriors don't pick and choose their last battle. That's shameful, embarrassing, and utterly selfish. Only cricketers who worry about their reputation would want to leave when they're still beloved.

Rahul Dravid is a perfect example of an unselfish cricketer who chose to go to Australia knowing well that he could undo the "highs" of England. He returned to the one-day team knowing full well that he was no longer good enough. How has his greatness diminished? If anything, I respect him all the more for his courage. Same goes for Sachin!

Posted by luvcricket_new_gen on (December 12, 2012, 14:35 GMT)

Great article. It is hard to be Sachin. Anything less than a hundred is a failure for Sachin (according to us the fans). So, for all that he has handled he is a master and a legend. As an ardent fan of him since the time I first saw him in full flow (96 WC), I really wish he goes out on a high, though it seems unlikely. Whatever, he is the greatest cricketer of all time and I liked the words "almost certainly the single biggest crowd-puller the world has ever known, in any sport, in any arena", nothing means more in cricket. tx Rob

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 14:34 GMT)

Wonderfully written! The UNDROPPABLE - you have hit it absolutely on the head. Something for the sycophants (and this includes the majority of Selectors, not to speak of BCCI officials) to think about. Not that it really matters because the Indian team will continue to have this stone around the neck until it suits His Majesty to call it a day, maybe after playing his 300th Test.

Posted by Saeed.Lodhi on (December 12, 2012, 14:28 GMT)

Someone, plz give this article to SRT !

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 14:25 GMT)

nice one...gives hope for every indian fan...he will rise like a last samurai

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 14:09 GMT)

One of greatest player the game of cricket has ever seen SACHIN TENDULKAR in such pain and agony, it's hard to fathom the kind of mental pressure he must be going through. Makes you sometimes wonder whether it's a curse or it's a thrill to be famous. I'm not sure if I REALLY want to be under his shoes. When money, fame, duty, obligation or being in a position whether he likes it or not but still got to play and of course the inevitable old age when all of these factors comes into the mix, it sure has a way of messing things up and the beauty of the game starts to disappear in a hurry. Nevertheless, this article makes a valiant attempt to get under the skin of little master's mind even though we'll never really know how it REALLY feels to be in his position. The man has done enough for you, me and everyone else. He certainly deserves a little break. It was quite a thrill for me to get a chance to see him play live in Bangladesh for the first time in my life.

Posted by akasavani on (December 12, 2012, 14:02 GMT)

Saw a one day match from 1992 or 93 on you tube the other day. Tendulkar facing Ambrose. The difference in his batting was so ridiculously obvious. He had so much more time to do what he pleased with each ball. One particular shot had me spellbound. He stepped forward as if he was going to smash it through the covers. Saw it was slightly shorter than he thought, quickly shuffled his feet and whipped it through mid-wicket instead. All this after the ball had left Ambrose's hand. Saw him bat in these current tests against England and all I can say is he needs to retire.

Posted by SPA001 on (December 12, 2012, 13:52 GMT)

Sachin, a wonderful cricket personality, has been in serious decline since the 2007 World Cup in Caribbean. Right now, he is being utterly selfish, in waiting for a big hundred to arrive and then hoping for a dignified exit. I am afraid it is not going to happen. A cricket genius whose commercial interests have blinded his rational approach. At times, one wonders, if SRT is in control of his career anymore for his chums seems to be running the show. The likes of Sanjay Manjrekar, Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar & Dilip Vengsarkar - all coincidentally Bombay boys - and even Rahul Dravid keep stressing the need for SRT to carry on. Amazing level of patriotism. My dear boy !

Posted by EverybodylovesSachin on (December 12, 2012, 13:32 GMT)

Sachin should play for another 2 years. India needs him more than ever before. By the time he retires Indian team will be in good hands.

Posted by cricconnossieur on (December 12, 2012, 13:18 GMT)

I have been an ardent Tendulkar fan and these times when he is struggling have been very difficult on me. From vehemently protesting and contesting any suggestions of Tendulkar's retirement a few months ago, I have been maintaining an uneasy silence and feeling guilty about it too. Here comes Rob Steen and writes this evocative piece and I must say it has given some peace to a troubled-Tendulkar's fan-soul ! At the same time the uncertainty had deepened. Doesnt matter whether Tendulkar scores a hundred and squares the series , the big question is when CAN he quit and how?!

Posted by mbpaterson on (December 12, 2012, 13:15 GMT)

Genuinely moving and affecting. Wonderful writing. Thank you.

Posted by cloudmess on (December 12, 2012, 13:14 GMT)

Interesting though this article was, it just continues to blow the whole Sachin issue way out of proportion. If he also scores runs in the final test, then he should be treated like any other player and not dropped/forced out of the side. If he wants to retire there and then, that is his decision. It always annoys me that when any player gets past 35, any dip in form is treated as permanent decline and they are immediately booted from the team. Sachin was ranked no 1 in the world at the beginning of last year. Then the clamour over his 100th hundred seemed to affect his game. Now he is trying to re-capture his rhythm, under the most intense pressure, with everyone telling him to retire unless he plays anything less than the Sachin of 1998. It was the same with Dravid - he was under pressure to retire and his retirement in January 2012 was treated with huge relief - he had turned 39, so he must be past it. And yet he was the second highest run scorer in Test cricket in 2011.

Posted by Ankur_cricinfo on (December 12, 2012, 13:11 GMT)

Nice try Rob, but let me tell you... this guy was, is & will always be a genius. He'll get back and prove all you critics wrong.

Posted by deadflat on (December 12, 2012, 13:05 GMT)

Sachin is taking a shot on 21st December. If the world really ends on that day, he won't need to retire ;)

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 13:00 GMT)

soulful. sinful. gave me goosbumps. and tears

Posted by Schaali on (December 12, 2012, 12:52 GMT)

This is easily one of the best piece of writing about cricket I've come across to. You have hit the nail on the head, its really a pity in India that cricketers like Sachin get 20+ years international cricket, giving an illusion throughout their life that there are none and there can be none like them. The mindset needs to change, people should start to realize that we human beings are better than animals because we IMPROVE all the times. We are replaced by better humans. Genius like Newton gets replaced by Einstein. I've seen so many talented Indian players vanishing from horizon with time because old cricketers like Sachin, Laxman, Dravid didn't want to give them their turn. Old Sachin shoud quit now, He has been a great embassador but now he is becoming an embarrassment for Indians worldwide. Others cannot surpass his records not because his records are unsurpassable, its because no cricketer around the world (except India) will get a chance to play cricket forever. GO SACHIN GO

Posted by Hardy1 on (December 12, 2012, 12:40 GMT)

The period from the 2007 T20 to WC2011 was quite possibly the best in Indian cricket history. However since then it has been one of the worst. This stark contrast is a result of the retirement/loss of form of Kumble, Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar, Harbhajan & Zaheer. In that period Sehwag & Gambhir did very well in all forms too & Dhoni was respectable in Tests. That's 9 players, basically a whole team that now need replacing. Out of the lot only Sehwag still deserves a Test spot (and that too is questionable) so this is a huge transition in which fans have to be patient but selectors have to be ruthless. The ODI team isn't as much of an issue with Dhoni, Sehwag, Gambhir & Kohli in particular remaining in form. Plus you don't have to bowl the opposition out, which is India's key problem in Tests.

Posted by CricketBirbal on (December 12, 2012, 12:37 GMT)

If DON could play till he was exactly 40, then why all this ado about the next DON, well ofcourse SACHIN the I ? Seems strange why even the non Indians are after him to retire. Is it what Hypocrisy means? Then that word should be reintroduced as "SACHINOCRISY". If LARA or PONTING were to play till 40 then the world would have sung paeans about their endurance capabilities. But not SACHIN. Why? Because he represents INDIA and not Australia,England or West Indies. I think the (cricket) world still needs to grow up.

Posted by Meety on (December 12, 2012, 12:37 GMT)

Funny how most of the comments are saying that this an article trying to view the world from Sachin's eyes. I thought it was a bit of a pizz-take actually. The referncing "And I've set records that no one will ever beat" on several occasions IMO suggests a bit of a poke, that happens to be possibly a lot closer to the truth than is healthy for a team sport!

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 12:26 GMT)

Rob, you are 'Sachin' amongst writers. Absolute superb piece. Master Stroke! Let me put you a question: Do you think he should retire post Nagpur?

Posted by FreddyForPrimeMinister on (December 12, 2012, 12:22 GMT)

Truly brilliant article Rob, and enhanced by so many appreciative, thoughtful and insightful comments from cricket lovers all over the world (none more so than RossA on (December 12 2012, 10:09 AM GMT)). I hope it serves as a beacon to all those cricket fans who will happily throw ridiculous or even vile comments at those countries that, for reasons unknown, they despise so much. Cricket should transcend such pettiness. The appreciation of so many millions around the world of not just the talent of the Little Master but also the way he has carried himself throughout his career, should enable us to recognize that we are ALL part of the "family" that is cricket. Thank you Sachin - and thank you Rob Steen!

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 12:21 GMT)

Sachin Tendulkar has done a lot for India and let the legend to decide when to retire. Why now a days media people are scanning too much of his each every innings. Hard he might play a year or so. India play less tests compared to One day cricket and T20. So, let the legend be part of Indian team for few more years. Later he can be our Indian team batting coach. He is great vibe for young cricketers. Hope for best.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 11:56 GMT)

Absolutley fasconating piece of writing. 10/10. I have never been the biggest sachin fan, but u have put a completely different aspect of his life in light. Kudos to you/

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 11:46 GMT)

Wonderfully written piece... For a change, an article written from the His eyes and not from a critic's or a fan's...

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 11:44 GMT)

every one needs him to finish on high,may a century or double. On my opinion he must stop playing limited overs, extending his test career for another year, Well he is not the only batsmen who has played cricket at this age many has done it before so don't make this a issue. He is a master of the game and he deserves a happy ending. lets wait and see what fate decides on him.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 11:44 GMT)

It is fantastic article to describe real feeling of Sachin, but he will not run as could as he can, tomorrow he will stay at the ground and he will prove who he is. All the best Sachin.

Posted by Sunnyside2711 on (December 12, 2012, 11:42 GMT)

Excellent article, Rob. Good attempt to get inside the mind of the maestro. But I feel how much ever we try, only Sachin himself can comprehend all the pressure that he has to endure every living minute. Or I doubt whether he himself fathoms it. I think it is much better that we mortals leave the great man to himself. I think he will be more concerned than any of his fans/foes and will arrive at the right decision sooner than later

Posted by Mandar_Baxi on (December 12, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

Thanks Rob for such excellent write-up. This is one of the best write- ups I have seen in recent past on Cricinfo. It is a touching article. One could imagine the pressure and feeling through which master blaster is going at this stage. Completely agreed with your thoughts about Indian Cricket and Biggest crowd puller of the world ever.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 11:35 GMT)

It's looking like he will retire soon ....either after this test or after Aus test series. People putting so much pressure on him to retire without considering the fact that he served a country for long 23 years....as once Sachin said 'If one man is representing India in cricket, then yes, blame that person when things go wrong. Critics haven't taught me my cricket, and they don't know what my body and mind are up to.....

Posted by Gilliana on (December 12, 2012, 11:32 GMT)

I was once a great admirer of ST but not any more. I would not shake his hand if I ever have to meet him down my street. But I do feel sorry for him being a victim of the BCCI and big business. The poor guy has shot himself in the foot. He only has to fall on his sword.

Posted by DaisonGarvasis on (December 12, 2012, 11:30 GMT)

Ahhh, it gives a feel of what goes through Sachin's mind. Rob has thought of all the excuses and reasons Sachin has to stay - From an outsider's mind. We still dont know what exactly is going through Sachin's mind though.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 11:25 GMT)

This has to be one of the best written piece for the little man!!

Posted by spr3723 on (December 12, 2012, 11:11 GMT)

One final frontier for my beloved sachin to conquer in cricket....a 300* in a test inning...he was the reason for indian cricket' rise to the ultimate heights...but i dont want to see him as the reason of indian cricket's fall to the ultimate lows, thats where exactly the team is heading....For the tens of millions of fans ..sachin has to score that 300 and make this team on rise again!!!

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 11:07 GMT)

for me love for cricket started with Sachin and will end with his retirement.. i dont care when he retires , why he retires,, . he has given me 15 years of beautiful moments .. can't ask for anything more.. ..

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 11:06 GMT)

Nice article, expressed untold emotions very well.

Like the line "A happy Sachin is a happy India". It's true and no other cricketer can achieve that.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 10:49 GMT)

Open letter of Master to his fans but I wonder would he be really thinking about it ROB!!!

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 10:46 GMT)

Good article , Right he must be facing a huge conundrum whether to leave or not !!!!! What one can say !!!! Lets hope for a century from his blade in Nagpur and May be India level the series....

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 10:39 GMT)

The most telling comment: "Good-but-far-from-great teams are making us look exceedingly silly." Definitely sums up the English team, good but not great! Where are the selctors who decided to postpone the announcement of an Indian test coach so they could convince Gary Kirsten to be interviewed....they knew how they wanted India to play!

Posted by SouthPaw on (December 12, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

Sandeep Patil & Crew: Why do you want to put Sachin and all his fans in such a quandary? Just drop him, if you are as gutsy a selector as you were a batsman!

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 10:27 GMT)

"A happy Sachin is a happy India" - I couldn't agree more !

As for his career,being an ardent fan of him i want him to retire right after the 4th test versus England.I don't want to see him being embarrassed any more and the present Indian team doesn't deserve him!

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 10:21 GMT)

Brilliant, insightful and respectful article. (Only jarring note is that I doubt Sachin has heard of Roy Harper!)

Posted by LillianThomson on (December 12, 2012, 10:20 GMT)

I don't think Sachin thinks in such a sophisticated way. My guess is "I will come good, I always have. And the bowlers today are worse than 20 years ago. I've been unlucky with difficult pitches, it's not my fault. I'm still better than the rest of my teammates. Anyway, I have no choices. I'm not as intelligent or educated as Dravid, Laxman or Kumble. There aren't many options for an ex-cricketer who isn't smart enough to be an administrator and isn't articulate enough to do television."

Posted by RossA on (December 12, 2012, 10:09 GMT)

Superb piece Rob and even though I am a patriotic England fan it brought a tear to my eye! only Cricket produces writing like this...Test Cricket is the greatest sport as it is like a Shakespearian epic played out across 5 days..a slow revelation of a man's character and in Sachin we have our greatest protagonist.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (December 12, 2012, 10:07 GMT)

The long goodbye of SRT is something that has, by turns, bemused me, irritated me, exasperated me & finally made me despair. He hasn't gone yet -- and hope against hope -- he just may manage one more momentous innings. But that's what those of us, even those that aren't Indian, have been mumbling to ourselves throughout the long months since January 2011! No, I must come out of my reverie. It's not going to happen. So, there are no sound cricketing reasons why he plays on & on. There are, however, many non-cricketing reasons, as Rob intimates. What does this do for cricket, specifically Indian cricket? It does two things, IMO: (1) tarnishes the image of SRT himself. He appears to be greedy, selfish, stats obsessed, etc. This is at variance of the man we believed him to be. But appearance is not reality. (2) drags Indian cricket (i.e. the BCCI) to new & unfathomed depths as SRT is cynically exploited for their benefit. SRT is not the Master at all, just the abject slave of HIS masters.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 10:03 GMT)

ill definitely stop watching cricket when sachin quits........but he has to quit someday.....and it would better to call it day against Pakistan........it wont be easy..........for tendulkar and for me.....for us.......but let the little master have some rest.......

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 10:00 GMT)

That is so well scripted.. Just like a fluent Straight Drive by the Master and as inventive and the uppercut against chin music or the paddle sweep against leg-stump line . Rob really thankful for this read. Getting into that Brain and a storm of thoughts that might be running through the Masters Mind you have scripted an art with threads from Sachins Career. Am sure if he reads it, he would be thankful to you for summing up this for his fans. That's a Masterclass for sure. Now i hope he scripts a century at Nagpur. as you said we pray :)

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 9:55 GMT)

this article is actually a splitting image of the pressure and the responsibility that the legend that i have known and honored all these years has to handle everyday when he steps out on the field... he is the man i have watched playing cricket since the day i was born and i cant imagine cricket without him.. i know that the time is approaching for him to perhaps hang the blue uniform and enjoy his much needed rest from responsibility but it is even more essential that he leaves with a blaze of glory which tells everyone what they will never be able to see on the field again... my best wishes to the maestro on the upcoming last test and the pakistan series afterwards... make India come alive one last time before you leave, that's all i wish to say to him... i'll be waiting like the billion others glued to my tv waiting to hear the crack of the timber of your bat hit the ball out of the ground... one last time.. :)

Posted by Santugk on (December 12, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

The burden of being a Sachin Tendulkar.. Truly great man... Great Article..

Posted by sydneyrocks on (December 12, 2012, 9:29 GMT)

It's a great article, to be honest i got a feeling he will score a hundred in Nagpur test

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 9:26 GMT)

Good for laughs.. nice light read! :)

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 9:22 GMT)

Excellent Article..hats off to ROb...Definitely this is way how my litter master/aster blaster will be thinking...But sure he will get to it...And say a final Go/Bye to the sport.Really so sad to see 10dulkar like this...Havin such great stats and still bucking up for runs...Let him wish to get a big hundred/match wining innigs in Nagpur.

Posted by sachinrameshtendulkar1 on (December 12, 2012, 9:19 GMT)

Thank ROB. But sorry u r not right.

Posted by moBlue on (December 12, 2012, 9:19 GMT)

hmmm... maybe i'll interject with some facts. the last test, sachin scored 76 and 3... not exactly a "failure". he had undeniably failed in 6 tests before that on the trot. but did you know in the 6 tests (11 innings) preceding that, one *in* ENG and two in oz among them, sachin had averaged 50-plus with 5 fifties? that was not "failure" by any definition! so... yes, even if one counts the last test as a failure (on the average of 40), that is still only 7 tests in a row that he has failed in, and he just might be turning the corner! if he wants to play yet, i ain't giving up on him! after all, this is sachin we are talking about!!!

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 9:18 GMT)

Do all english writers need to mention poverty at the start of ANY article about India ??? Roles could reverse very soon :)

Barring this stupidity rest of the article is a very good read.

No matter what the "experts" say ... people in India have loved Sachin the most and will continue doing so ....

Thanks Sachin for everything !

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 9:10 GMT)

Beautiful Article Rob!!! A HAPPY SACHIN is definitely A HAPPY INDIA!!! Nobody understands what he is going through. I wish his countrymen understand him as foreigners do!! May God bless him!! Go Sachin GO!! You don't need to prove anything to anyone!!!Play your heart out!!

Posted by crindex on (December 12, 2012, 9:06 GMT)

Sachin will bounce back. He is a comeback kid. Its only a matter of time.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 9:05 GMT)

Sachin is geatest among all greats. For sure many thoughts must be going through his mind but like evry time he will come back with a reply. At least for another 6-8 months he is there and if his form allows he may continue after also. If he is not there as playing 11 then India need him to teach our young kids about art of being a player. I do believe we need dravid also to help Indian batsmens.

Posted by cheenu_balaji on (December 12, 2012, 8:54 GMT)

Sachin used to tell that he would be playing till he enjoys playing. For the fun, for the thrill, for giving millions the same fun and thrill. Agreed. But, Are you now enjoying Sachin ? Your childish enthusiasm on the field is gone, your confident gait is gone, your timing..... Be true to yourself ONLY and if you still enjoy your own game, go ahead. After all, you are our darling.

Posted by criexpert on (December 12, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

I dont think so he would stay because he thinks he has duty to perform.He stays because he knows he can score the runs required at the highest level.I think ponting said "I wont miss next ashes coz i know i am not good enough to be there".Sachin's point at the moment is .."I am good enough to make runs for india.Thats what i have done and thats what i ll do.let other decide my fate in their thought.i am not concerned about them.All i care about is wheter i am good enough to score runs.I say yes I am. So let me go practice and let my bat answer am aging or not."

Posted by Harlequin. on (December 12, 2012, 8:47 GMT)

@CricFan0101 - 'I don't know how this random speculation goes past ESPNs editors without comment', well, because it was a very interesting read! I don't think the author presumes to know exactly what is going through Sachins mind, but rather he was offering a well written, poignant and often amusing perspective on the situation. Great article.

Posted by Crimsonbat on (December 12, 2012, 8:41 GMT)

I like SRT. But it's time he went. And yes the British did emasculate India but not HK . However the future is us. Not those silly little twits.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 8:40 GMT)

Superb......so much depth......our hindi 24X7 channels lack. Yes God deserves a final HURRAH..........we Indians love Bollywood's Happy endings. My guess is India versus Australia feb-march 2013.

Posted by Samar_Singh on (December 12, 2012, 8:23 GMT)

Beautiful Article Rob.!!! No doubt SRT is playing for personal records only and barring youngster to get into the team .. a 50 here and there is a ordinary cricketer's show but 4 SRT its another half century in the record book .. I request SRT not to retire till he plays his 200 test .. That should be another mile stone .. Selfish Ridiculous Tendulkar .

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 8:09 GMT)

nice sarcastic article...honestly who cares what he does now...he has already undone much of his reputation and goodwill amongst most of the cricket followers by playing selfishly in the last few years...why does he play the IPL and not t20 for india...greed and hunger for money has killed him both as a cricketer and as a person..if he hasnt secured his future generations financially then who has?...why does he need more money...imagine if viv richards was still playing..he would have been the biggest draw in all of cricket.....sadly looks like sachins luck has run out for him....

Posted by Perfect.Stranger on (December 12, 2012, 8:07 GMT)

He should have retired from international cricket after the world cup final. That was a high point in his career but the medias obsession with 100th hundred stopped him from doing so. I feel he will stay till he scores another century. It feels like he wants to call it a day on a high but he should understand that after the performances of last year, no high would be high enough. He will score a hundred somehwere if he keeps playing: that is the law of averages. But would it be worth it?

Posted by Thyagarajan on (December 12, 2012, 7:43 GMT)

Just a glimpse of what the great man is going thru everyday! A great article ! :) But every person in India is his devotee... We're not gonna stop believing in him so easily

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 7:31 GMT)

He should have been dropped after the 2003 world cup itself. No player is above the game when there is any utility value. The only utility value that i have seen for Mr. Gavaskar and Mr. Tendulkar is that they have a big lobby to support them. So, there is no question of sitting out games or missing out on account of lean patches but the other players have to be guillotined. Is it fair on a fighter like Yuvraj who has come out of a bigger battle to be shown the door? If given chances, my grandmother also would have made 100 centuries!

Posted by Emancipator007 on (December 12, 2012, 7:26 GMT)

@Lmaotsetung:Pretty smug comment. @bluefunk is right to point out historical facts.Comparing a vast sub continental country (inc Bangladesh' 179 million and Pak's 250 million plus with massed poverty here too) with HK and Mauritius?South American countries have been independent from Spain for 200 years (with smaller population bases) but still struggling to tackle poverty. Despite the shenanigans of independent India's ruling class, about 300 million Indians (out of 1.3 bi) are eking out a comfortable middle class existence since Liberalization in 1991-a FEAT which has never been ACCOMPLISHED in human history in a free, democratic nation. @Vichan:China cannot be compared simply cos it wasn't under colonial subjugation for so long, plus the near homogeneity of the population plus a centralized command rule makes it easier to address poverty. Besides, news of millions of poor Chinese will NEVER reach mainstream world media unlike absolutely democratic India's.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 7:24 GMT)

Goose bumps! An article that has actually made me feel the inside of the great Sachin Tendulkar. I now realize how the legend would be feeling inside. Rob Steen, you being from outside India, can understand the exact feelings of the Man himself and i think that itself is a great achievement. Amazingly structured article giving the minutest details of the tension and expectations lying on his shoulder's and the burden he carries around. Frankly, even now when he comes out to bat, I'am on the top of my chair, not because I want him to score run's, but for the pleasure of seeing him bat which is invaluable because who knows it might be the last time he would be with a bat in his hand, playing for INDIA.

Cheers!

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 7:23 GMT)

Nail in the coffin but with a subtle hint of humor and a kick on the back side......

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 7:13 GMT)

Thank you Rob...I always used to think what must be going through SRT's mind. Your article more or less points in that direction..Let us hope & pray for a final hurrah with a fighting knock to level the seris...!!

Posted by ooper_cut on (December 12, 2012, 6:56 GMT)

Felt like it was Sachin, almost. Thanks

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 6:56 GMT)

The reality of being Sachin ramesh tendulkar, what an article awesome!!!! - the day he leaves Cricket the game it self will say - well there was man who played me the way it should be played with humility and humbleness of a gentle man. And he truly played.....

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 6:45 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 srikanths on (December 12, 2012, 6:44 GMT)

He has been unique in may ways. Loved for several years by many, being hated by a few now. Has set the mood of the nation for several years. It was almost as of we have all messed up in the country but we have one jewel. I blame legions of his fans and journalists for the hype and having pushed him to this state. There is absolutely no doubt that he has been one of the greatest . But for this pressure, I am sure he would have scored several more runs. People can rationalise and say that it was up to him not feel get pressurised, but let us not forget that he is as much a human as any of us and the escape that people from their drudgery vicariously through him is most unfortunate . They are resting all their hopes on him. Add to that are the marketing guys.Instead of enjoying a great talent, we have burdened him and made him perform sub par

Sad sight seeing the great man struggle. He is definitely in a precipitous decline last 1 year and should take the call to retire.

Posted by Nilmani11 on (December 12, 2012, 6:27 GMT)

Nice One!!!! Really if Sachin is happy, India is happy. He really given the face to indian cricket and because of him only BCCI is ruling well over the world.Lots of good things happened in Indian cricket only because of him.

Really article is very nice to read and feel the Sachin's Emotions.

Posted by VandheMatharam on (December 12, 2012, 6:25 GMT)

@bluefunk, As good as the article might have been written, your reply/comment was even better. Well said. Hundreds of years ago India was the richest country in the world until it was plundered ..... and the rest, as Rob said, is history.

Posted by ManojNisal on (December 12, 2012, 6:03 GMT)

Simply outstanding article! I hope he leaves on a high (which ironically he thinks is selfish) than be dropped. Fingers crossed...

Posted by BP1234 on (December 12, 2012, 6:03 GMT)

I think this is a typical pom comment, they have to talk about the poverty in India and surrounding, I think cric info should not encourage this type of writing, looks anti-sub continent, with Sachin's retirement, he is playing much better than Ponting who retired recently, Sachin's average is much better than Ricky's average in last 3 years but yes the team is not performing well, Team India should look for other good young players and leave Sachin alone, his expert advice infact has helped made lots and lots of careers and dont have a pom coach next time, have our own coach!Rob steen should not talk about the country and the problems while discussing cricket, Europe is going to in a big downfall in number of years including England, it has already started, all that glitters is not gold, well we have lot of stolen gold in england! Please talk cricket , cheers!

Posted by jasif on (December 12, 2012, 6:02 GMT)

excellent article......sachin also needs to admire this article and acknowledge the fact that its time and he should relieve all of their misery and announce his retirement ASAP

Posted by Santugk on (December 12, 2012, 6:00 GMT)

Brilliant.. Absolutely brilliant.. Hats of to the writer for capturing "Being Sachin" so eloquently. Must read.. Its a Master Piece. All Hail Master Sachin..

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 5:55 GMT)

I'm fairly sure he will retire after this test if he doesn't perform. He's a great player, and one of the greatest the world has ever seen. He's had such a wonderful career, and this is an excellent article. He hasn't been on top of his game lately, but I do hope he can change it. I've been a huge fan of his for a long time. Great article

Posted by Suganth.T on (December 12, 2012, 5:53 GMT)

Nice Article: But I think it must come after South Africa series, if necessary..

Posted by srinivasann on (December 12, 2012, 5:52 GMT)

Thanks Rob for the write-up. Excellent title & composition with good mix of humour & humility. One of the best write- ups I have seen in recent past on Cricinfo. No matter what, Sachin deserves to call-it-the-day on a high, rather I would say incredibilty higher that any one can even image & I reckon that that moment is not too far from now. Go Sachin for yourself as You dont need to prove any damn thing for anyone. My best wishes are with you.

Posted by AmitWelhal on (December 12, 2012, 5:51 GMT)

Great article but greater ignorance, Rob. Cant get more condescending than the opening line of the article!

Posted by Gladkick on (December 12, 2012, 5:49 GMT)

What a brilliant article!!! An absolute treat to read. Thank you sir. I'm sure this is 200% exactly how my hero feels and only he knows the weight and the burden of it. This is something no others could understand because no one thinks about him this much. God bless him.

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (December 12, 2012, 5:49 GMT)

@ bluefunk - am sure the British bled Hong Kong dry too? Or what about the small island of Mauritius? OH WAIT! HK is one of the major financial center of the world....and the latter is one of the most developed nation in Africa....nvm...carry on with your clueless drivel.

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (December 12, 2012, 5:41 GMT)

It's hard being K P. Only a genius can understand a tormented genius. Once KP went to play a hard shot against a pitched up delivery. Saw ball move, so at last second decided to defend the ball. #genius. KP wanted to play a hook shot against a bouncer, saw it was way too short, ducked under it. #genius. KP once went to pick up a ball with his right hand, saw he had overran it, so decided to pick up with left instead. #genius. That's how hard it is being KP.

Posted by fab4_india on (December 12, 2012, 5:38 GMT)

nice article...very well written...that's exactly what The Great SRT would be thinking...and nothing better than getting a real big hundered leveling the series and saying bye to the sport which he made look even better...waiting for the 1 final flourish...1 final assault of english men...1 final glory of the great man...1 final show of the real SHOW STOPPER....go sachin go...we want u...we love u...all the best...

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 5:28 GMT)

@bluefunk: Every time I hear an Indian talk about how British bled India, I am reminded of an unfortunate trait a lot of Indians have of blaming everything but themselves for what ails the country. It's the English, it's Pakistan, it's China, it's never us, is it? The English have been gone for over 60 years. It is all up to us now. It's time we let go the past and focus on the present and the future.

Posted by P.D.DESAI on (December 12, 2012, 5:25 GMT)

Beautiful Article Rob.!!! A HAPPY SACHIN is A HAPPY INDIA.!!!

Posted by vichan on (December 12, 2012, 5:24 GMT)

@ bluefunk: You blame Englishmen for "bleeding the country dry for 300 years". So are you saying that there was no poverty in India before that? And how about the other colonialists (e.g. the Mughals) that should also take blame in that case? It's very easy to blame the English for anything wrong in modern India. But 65 years have passed on and the problem hasn't been tackled, compared to other countries which had similar levels of poverty in 1947 e.g. China, where the picture may even have been worse. Also, blaming Rob Stein (a man born well after the days of the Raj) for bringing up the topic of poverty in India is just plain silly...are modern Germans not allowed to comment about Nazism either, in that case?

Posted by CricFan0101 on (December 12, 2012, 5:22 GMT)

Man, you englishmen should worry about the direction that your own economy is taking rather than comment on poverty in other countries. As to what Sachin thinks and why he does what he does, good story, just pure speculation. He just as likely enjoys playing cricket rather than does it out of any sense of duty. Sachin wouldn't be obsessively captaining Mumbai Indians in the IPL or playing Ranji trophy if he did not love this game to bits. I don't know how this random speculation goes past ESPNs editors without comment. Boggles the mind.

Posted by rocknrola on (December 12, 2012, 5:19 GMT)

Is that KP in second paragraph is Kevin Pietersen ?

Posted by Pinarsh255 on (December 12, 2012, 4:58 GMT)

Excellent article sir. The stage is set, waiting for the artist to give one last glorious performance.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 4:55 GMT)

A different point of view: You have said it all Rob, excellent article ....

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 4:52 GMT)

A brilliant write-up.... Soulful and thoughtful, and a nurtured literary extravaganza..... An absolute treat to read, probably one of the finest alliteration of the mind that continued to bring smile to millions around the world with his sheer brilliance... Thank you Rob for expressing these in such exquisite manner.....

Posted by bluefunk on (December 12, 2012, 4:41 GMT)

Nothing to do directly with the article, Rob, but every time I hear an Englishman talk about poverty in the subcontinent, it just makes me think how it would not nearly have been as much of a problem had it not been for Englishmen bleeding the nation dry for about three hundred long years. The guilt from doing this should be so overwhelming that you would have the courtesy of not bringing this up to add colour to your writing. If it strikes the eye of any English visitor, as I know it does, it should just make you introspect about the ethics of holding it up before the world as spectacle, even if your purposes are, qua St Paul, charitable. Forgive the digression, let's get back to the cricket now. Cheers.

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Rob Steen Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton, whose books include biographies of Desmond Haynes and David Gower (Cricket Society Literary Award winner) and 500-1 - The Miracle of Headingley '81. His investigation for the Wisden Cricketer, "Whatever Happened to the Black Cricketer?", won the UK section of the 2005 EU Journalism Award "For diversity, against discrimination". His latest book, Floodlights and Touchlines: A History of Spectator Sport, will be published in the summer of 2014

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