September 4, 2013

Tendulkar and the pull of love

Why does he keep playing? It has to do with belonging, and an abiding love of the craft, the discipline, and of mastery
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Why is Sachin Tendulkar still playing cricket? Why is Roger Federer still playing tennis? With a two-Test series now scheduled for November, there is renewed speculation that Tendulkar may retire after reaching 200 Test caps. Federer, meanwhile, slumped out of the US Open in New York two days ago, defeated by Tommy Robredo, the kind of competent pro Federer has spent his career dispatching with gleeful ruthlessness. In his most recent Test match, Tendulkar was lbw twice to Nathan Lyon, whose steady offspin is roughly equivalent to Robredo's tennis.

Usually these debates descend into an argument about whether the great men have still got the magic, or if the slide away from the top is now inevitable. I am more interested in a subtler, even harder question: what motivates them? How can great athletes, who once dominated their sports, appear to settle for a more subordinate role? Or do they still feel that glories lie around the corner? Can matinee idols become supporting actors? Can gods become men?

The two careers have much in common. Both are global icons who transcend their sport. Within cricket and tennis they are regarded as the most complete players of their generation. At their best, both have touched a kind of serenity that is beyond the imagination, let alone the ability, of even very good players. Both have avoided controversy. They have little left to prove to anyone.

There are undoubted differences. As a Swiss, Federer grew up in country that values privacy and has little tolerance for celebrity culture; he has been able to enjoy his fame. Tendulkar's career, in contrast, has reflected, or even anticipated, the emergence of India as a world power. India's economic liberalisation began in 1991, two years after Tendulkar's Test debut. Excellence alone does not quite make a hero. They need context, too. It was the burgeoning self-confidence of Victorian Britain that made WG Grace more than just a sportsman. So it is with India and Tendulkar.

That is why I've always felt Tendulkar has carried a much greater burden than Federer. And why Federer has tended to lose on his own terms: playing aggressively, sometimes almost with indifference. Not so Tendulkar. In the 2005-06 series against England, for example, his batting was so passive that it seemed almost beneath his talent. He looked fearful of letting anyone down. But we shouldn't forget the cumulative strain of being Tendulkar. As Virat Kohli put it, speaking after India's World Cup triumph in 2011: "Tendulkar has carried the burden of our nation on his shoulders for the past 21 years. So it is time that we carried him."

Even the most well-adjusted sportsman has a subliminal fear of civilian life outside the sporting bubble. A sport, like a religion, gives meaning to its congregation

Both champions have already proved the danger of writing them off. Autumn has been kind to them. In 2010, Tendulkar scored over 1500 Test runs in the calendar year. And just over a year ago, after a prolific season, Federer won Wimbledon for the seventh time and returned to World No. 1. It was deeply moving to watch.

In "Late Style", his famous essay about late bursts of creativity, Edward Said described how "age confers a spirit of reconciliation and serenity on late works". We saw something similar in Zinedine Zidane's almost omniscient displays at the end of his football career - he was part player, part director of the show.

A year ago, I sensed Federer had reached an accommodation with the fact that supremacy was no longer automatic. His manner suggested that he had not so much lowered specific expectations as transcended them. His body language could be translated as saying: "No. 3 in the world, No. 4, No. 1 - yes, each number has meaning within the sport of tennis. But which other sportsman is able to be so gloriously himself? Why would I give this up, why would I not want to entertain as I do, to bring joy around the world, and to myself?" But that spirit has not endured during his recent and far deeper trough of bad form. The last warmth of autumn is fading.

Which brings us back to the first question: why stay? Professional sport makes gruelling demands. Why stay? We can, I think rule out money. Both men have more than enough. And I don't think either wants to be more famous than they already are. If fame is relevant at all, more likely it is fear of celebrity divorced from performance that worries them. There is a huge difference between the roar of a live crowd and the reverence of a charity dinner or a staged television studio audience.

Belonging? This feels a more central explanation. For Federer and Tendulkar, their sports have been their home. The game itself has been an umbrella that has sheltered every hotel room and training camp they've experienced. They have been aristocrats of their social spheres; their careers have deep meaning to the wider community of their sports. All retiring sportsmen, even moderate ones, must grapple with the fact that the outside world is less interested in them than their own sporting community. Even the most well-adjusted sportsman has a subliminal fear of civilian life outside the sporting bubble. A sport, like a religion, gives meaning to its congregation.

But I suspect the deepest pull of all is love. Love of the peace that comes with total concentration; love of the craft and the discipline of routine and practice; love of defining and controlling events; love of nervous excitement; love of winning; love of mastery; love of the stage.

That sense of love still outweighs the sacrifices and the disappointments. For how much longer? I don't know, nor do they. But I am sure it has enriched all our lives.

Ed Smith's latest book is Luck - A Fresh Look at Fortune. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jay57870 on September 7, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    Ageless wonders like Tendulkar & Federer cannot be judged by conventional logic. What defines & drives them is their personal mastery. Peter Senge, the renowned author of the seminal book "Fifth Discipline", calls it "the discipline of personal growth and learning". Tendulkar epitomises personal mastery when he states: "Who I am as a person, my nature, is permanent. My results on the field are temporary - they will go up and go down. It is more important that I am consistent as a person. This I can control, my results I cannot"! Uber-coach Gary Kirsten is an avid proponent of personal mastery & that's why his teams (India & SA) have scaled the summit. Gary & his assistant Paddy Upton can attest to Sachin's personal mastery for his fame as a cricketer & person. It's his impeccable character & the impact he makes on the lives of people as a person. That's why TIME Magazine proclaims: "We have had champions ... legends, but we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will"!!

  • Sultan2007 on September 5, 2013, 13:10 GMT

    What a terrific article. My compliments, Ed smith for your thoughtfulness and perceptiveness. Here is one other perspective that I would like to offer. The Greatest have an immeasurable dose of self belief. Iam sure both Federer and Tendulkar recognize the challenges of an ageing body but they believe that they have the game to compensate for this. They will keep going till their brain tells them that they cannot go any further. There is really no right or wrong here. As a sports fan, I am just grateful forthe opportunity to enjoy the beauty of their game. Insofar as regressing into a defensive risk free shell is concerned, this could be that both these Greats are realistic enough about the number of opportunities that they are left with and are trying their hardest to stretch each one to its fullest. It reminds me of how freely a young man is prepared to spend his money and how thrifty he gets once he grows old. All that is happening is that he is running shorter on currency!

  • TequillaGuy on September 4, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    Very well written Ed.Your ability to chose an interesting topic,willingness to acknowledge and shed away any preconceived notions you might have and then look at the issue at hand with an open mind always amazes me.You are surely the most honest cricket writer I've come across.I also like the way you build your argument by looking at it from every angle.That said, I was wondering about the exact same thing the day Federer was knocked out of US open.He reminded me of Sachin of few years ago when Sachin started playing within a shell,trying to eliminate errors instead of playing the natural attacking game,too scared of as you put it, disappointing others. Fans find it hard to look at their Gods being beaten by mortals.It takes away the very few things they are certain of,the very few moments of joy they experience through the victories of their heroes.Struggling,disappointed,scared mortals:Suddenly,the gods become one of us.If anything,it should make fans feel closer to their heroes.

  • Katey on September 4, 2013, 6:04 GMT

    A really good article Ed ... I've started to download your articles automatically now. They always are worth taking the time to read. Thanks for that.

    You've encouraged me to think about how I feel re Federer, Tendulkar, and some lesser lights like Herchelle Gibbs, when their glory days are over but before they have formally retired. One feeling you didn't mention is humiliation - humiliation for them and with them - when a No 1 tennis player is knocked out by Whoosethat, or a great batsman keeps getting out in single figures to the bowling of Dunnohim. The look of bewilderment and stoicism is sometimes more than I can bear, and I reach for the remote and switch off my TV.

    I guess many of them got to the top, not only by supreme ability, but by steely determination and the ability to conquer feelings of fear and humiliation and self-uncertainty. The ability may be waning, but the character remains, stronger than even, and keeps them trying regardless. Something of a Greek tragedy?

  • Nilesh_T on September 4, 2013, 4:25 GMT

    Hats off to you Ed Smith for a truly wonderful write up and your comparison of SRT with RF. In very simple,succinct and smooth style of writing you have effectively conveyed the link between a true sporting champion and the love for the game which defines their very being. In case of SRT, Virat's tribute is bang on target for such an iconic figure within Indian psyche. For him to carry the hopes,aspirations and expectations of a billion populace,each and every time he goes out to bat, with a calm,collected and humble demeanor regardless of his Everest-que achievements, is what differentiates mere mortals from God.Its not an exaggeration that when he hangs up his boots finally,a whole generation of Indians may stop watching cricket. Sporting champions have been aplenty world over in multiple sports over ages but those with the humility and simplicity of SRT and RF can be counted on fingers. They transcend time and age because of their pure love and passion for the sport they breathe.

  • on September 6, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    Tendulkar plays on a team, Federer plays for himself. Federer has to earn his right to play in a tournament. Tendulkar? Not so much. A case can be made that Tendulkar cannot hold his place in the team based on his form. No such case can be made for Fed since he will not be in the main draw if he is not good enough.

    When Fed starts entering majors based on wild card entries alone, the two can be compared. Tendulkar may well be past the sell-by date, but since his selection is not dependent on his form exclusively, we may never find out. Federer is a top ten player, even today. Is Tendulkar a top ten batsman today?

  • jay57870 on September 6, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    Ed - A wonderful tale of two icons! It's no coincidence Tendulkar & Federer are like good friends. They spent an hour chatting on the balcony of the Wimbledon Royal box two years ago. Sachin observed: "What a humble guy! ... He knows a lot about cricket!!" Roger returned the compliment: "Today was a special day ... had the chance to catch up with the great Indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar"! Yes, the twining goes deep in their DNA: a love for both sports. Sachin's childhood idol was tennis star John McEnroe. He even sported a McEnroe style shock of hair. He yearned for that brat's headband & wristbands. Roger learned the basics of cricket from his mother, a South African. His granddad was secretary of the Northern Transvaal Cricket union. He remains a keen SA cricket fan. Just imagine if they had switched sports? Thud! Instead of Heroes we'd call them Goats! By staying true to one's chosen sport, each man has earned the right to become arguably a real GOAT: Greatest Of All Time!!

  • India-Do-Well on September 6, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    People have their varying opinion on Tendulkar. Fair enough. All the great ones are legends and we should appreciate their craft equally. In my opinion Tendulkar is the best batsman since Bradman and that is the only opinion that matters to me. To the people who may say 'who cares' if you think he is the best... my point exactly 'who cares' if you think he is not. Now as a true sports fan I will contradict myself and share another opinion that matter a lot to me. Bradman made two points (i) Tendulkar batted like him and reminded him of his own batting - and Bradman's wife agreed (all married men will Nod and appreciate that validation) (ii) Tendulkar is the only batsman of the modern era he picked in his team (yes to be fair he did not see Pointing and Kallis at their best but he did see Lara and other greats). I am sure Bradman's knows more about Batting than anyone else period. However, if you disagree that is fine as well. That is what makes sports so much fun!!

  • Naresh28 on September 6, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    @hhillbumper - you say he is overrated and who are you? Why only look at his current form? Why did BRADMAN who was a legend of the game make his comments on Tendulkar? Dont facts, stats and figures given by cricinfo mean anything to you? Do you know in the 2003 WC IN SA he was the top batsman? check cricinfo for this Yes his eyesight and reflexes are diminshed and he got out to Anderson and that is of late. He has only declined in the last 3-4 years. Maybe you at 40 should try playing cricket against some young fast bowlers like Anderson.

  • on September 6, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    hi all this is real nice article.And I felt there is no perfect balanced test side for india.that is y sachin is still continues if he felt it is safe he will retire. but I want to tell the people who want him to get retired even BCCI dont dare him to make retire becas they know the consequences from public.becas he very much attached to every cricket lover of india if bcci take decision at least 10 crore people will protest .it is because of him most of us start watch play love cricket .like dhoni told in WC final he dont want see sachin childish face with sorrow want promote himself in batting. every indian want him smile always he give us joy of enjoying game and we still backing him always .As indian I am feeling him like my own bro

  • jay57870 on September 7, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    Ageless wonders like Tendulkar & Federer cannot be judged by conventional logic. What defines & drives them is their personal mastery. Peter Senge, the renowned author of the seminal book "Fifth Discipline", calls it "the discipline of personal growth and learning". Tendulkar epitomises personal mastery when he states: "Who I am as a person, my nature, is permanent. My results on the field are temporary - they will go up and go down. It is more important that I am consistent as a person. This I can control, my results I cannot"! Uber-coach Gary Kirsten is an avid proponent of personal mastery & that's why his teams (India & SA) have scaled the summit. Gary & his assistant Paddy Upton can attest to Sachin's personal mastery for his fame as a cricketer & person. It's his impeccable character & the impact he makes on the lives of people as a person. That's why TIME Magazine proclaims: "We have had champions ... legends, but we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will"!!

  • Sultan2007 on September 5, 2013, 13:10 GMT

    What a terrific article. My compliments, Ed smith for your thoughtfulness and perceptiveness. Here is one other perspective that I would like to offer. The Greatest have an immeasurable dose of self belief. Iam sure both Federer and Tendulkar recognize the challenges of an ageing body but they believe that they have the game to compensate for this. They will keep going till their brain tells them that they cannot go any further. There is really no right or wrong here. As a sports fan, I am just grateful forthe opportunity to enjoy the beauty of their game. Insofar as regressing into a defensive risk free shell is concerned, this could be that both these Greats are realistic enough about the number of opportunities that they are left with and are trying their hardest to stretch each one to its fullest. It reminds me of how freely a young man is prepared to spend his money and how thrifty he gets once he grows old. All that is happening is that he is running shorter on currency!

  • TequillaGuy on September 4, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    Very well written Ed.Your ability to chose an interesting topic,willingness to acknowledge and shed away any preconceived notions you might have and then look at the issue at hand with an open mind always amazes me.You are surely the most honest cricket writer I've come across.I also like the way you build your argument by looking at it from every angle.That said, I was wondering about the exact same thing the day Federer was knocked out of US open.He reminded me of Sachin of few years ago when Sachin started playing within a shell,trying to eliminate errors instead of playing the natural attacking game,too scared of as you put it, disappointing others. Fans find it hard to look at their Gods being beaten by mortals.It takes away the very few things they are certain of,the very few moments of joy they experience through the victories of their heroes.Struggling,disappointed,scared mortals:Suddenly,the gods become one of us.If anything,it should make fans feel closer to their heroes.

  • Katey on September 4, 2013, 6:04 GMT

    A really good article Ed ... I've started to download your articles automatically now. They always are worth taking the time to read. Thanks for that.

    You've encouraged me to think about how I feel re Federer, Tendulkar, and some lesser lights like Herchelle Gibbs, when their glory days are over but before they have formally retired. One feeling you didn't mention is humiliation - humiliation for them and with them - when a No 1 tennis player is knocked out by Whoosethat, or a great batsman keeps getting out in single figures to the bowling of Dunnohim. The look of bewilderment and stoicism is sometimes more than I can bear, and I reach for the remote and switch off my TV.

    I guess many of them got to the top, not only by supreme ability, but by steely determination and the ability to conquer feelings of fear and humiliation and self-uncertainty. The ability may be waning, but the character remains, stronger than even, and keeps them trying regardless. Something of a Greek tragedy?

  • Nilesh_T on September 4, 2013, 4:25 GMT

    Hats off to you Ed Smith for a truly wonderful write up and your comparison of SRT with RF. In very simple,succinct and smooth style of writing you have effectively conveyed the link between a true sporting champion and the love for the game which defines their very being. In case of SRT, Virat's tribute is bang on target for such an iconic figure within Indian psyche. For him to carry the hopes,aspirations and expectations of a billion populace,each and every time he goes out to bat, with a calm,collected and humble demeanor regardless of his Everest-que achievements, is what differentiates mere mortals from God.Its not an exaggeration that when he hangs up his boots finally,a whole generation of Indians may stop watching cricket. Sporting champions have been aplenty world over in multiple sports over ages but those with the humility and simplicity of SRT and RF can be counted on fingers. They transcend time and age because of their pure love and passion for the sport they breathe.

  • on September 6, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    Tendulkar plays on a team, Federer plays for himself. Federer has to earn his right to play in a tournament. Tendulkar? Not so much. A case can be made that Tendulkar cannot hold his place in the team based on his form. No such case can be made for Fed since he will not be in the main draw if he is not good enough.

    When Fed starts entering majors based on wild card entries alone, the two can be compared. Tendulkar may well be past the sell-by date, but since his selection is not dependent on his form exclusively, we may never find out. Federer is a top ten player, even today. Is Tendulkar a top ten batsman today?

  • jay57870 on September 6, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    Ed - A wonderful tale of two icons! It's no coincidence Tendulkar & Federer are like good friends. They spent an hour chatting on the balcony of the Wimbledon Royal box two years ago. Sachin observed: "What a humble guy! ... He knows a lot about cricket!!" Roger returned the compliment: "Today was a special day ... had the chance to catch up with the great Indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar"! Yes, the twining goes deep in their DNA: a love for both sports. Sachin's childhood idol was tennis star John McEnroe. He even sported a McEnroe style shock of hair. He yearned for that brat's headband & wristbands. Roger learned the basics of cricket from his mother, a South African. His granddad was secretary of the Northern Transvaal Cricket union. He remains a keen SA cricket fan. Just imagine if they had switched sports? Thud! Instead of Heroes we'd call them Goats! By staying true to one's chosen sport, each man has earned the right to become arguably a real GOAT: Greatest Of All Time!!

  • India-Do-Well on September 6, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    People have their varying opinion on Tendulkar. Fair enough. All the great ones are legends and we should appreciate their craft equally. In my opinion Tendulkar is the best batsman since Bradman and that is the only opinion that matters to me. To the people who may say 'who cares' if you think he is the best... my point exactly 'who cares' if you think he is not. Now as a true sports fan I will contradict myself and share another opinion that matter a lot to me. Bradman made two points (i) Tendulkar batted like him and reminded him of his own batting - and Bradman's wife agreed (all married men will Nod and appreciate that validation) (ii) Tendulkar is the only batsman of the modern era he picked in his team (yes to be fair he did not see Pointing and Kallis at their best but he did see Lara and other greats). I am sure Bradman's knows more about Batting than anyone else period. However, if you disagree that is fine as well. That is what makes sports so much fun!!

  • Naresh28 on September 6, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    @hhillbumper - you say he is overrated and who are you? Why only look at his current form? Why did BRADMAN who was a legend of the game make his comments on Tendulkar? Dont facts, stats and figures given by cricinfo mean anything to you? Do you know in the 2003 WC IN SA he was the top batsman? check cricinfo for this Yes his eyesight and reflexes are diminshed and he got out to Anderson and that is of late. He has only declined in the last 3-4 years. Maybe you at 40 should try playing cricket against some young fast bowlers like Anderson.

  • on September 6, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    hi all this is real nice article.And I felt there is no perfect balanced test side for india.that is y sachin is still continues if he felt it is safe he will retire. but I want to tell the people who want him to get retired even BCCI dont dare him to make retire becas they know the consequences from public.becas he very much attached to every cricket lover of india if bcci take decision at least 10 crore people will protest .it is because of him most of us start watch play love cricket .like dhoni told in WC final he dont want see sachin childish face with sorrow want promote himself in batting. every indian want him smile always he give us joy of enjoying game and we still backing him always .As indian I am feeling him like my own bro

  • on September 6, 2013, 0:17 GMT

    He keeps playing for immortality in the record books. Tests and ODIs will become increasingly rare given how T20s are taking off. Consequently, a player playing for 20 years will play far fewer tests/ODIs than Tendulkar did over the same period. So the record books will be littered with whoever is playing now, or more correctly whoever is ending his career shortly.

    He retired from ODIs as soon as he determined that his closest competition was no longer in contention for either the most runs or centuries, and he'll do so in tests as well, under the same conditions.

    The problem is that Kallis is still playing and is in a purple patch during which he racked up a bunch of hundreds and runs. So if Tendulkar retired, it is conceivable that Kallis could overtake him in both.

    So once he no longer sees Kallis as a threat, he'll retire. In the meantime if he chalks up a couple more hundreds, even better.

  • tickcric on September 5, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    Tendulkar, Federer has truly been the lords of their game. Their connection with the game is very special. Their skill may be waning but the connection with the game or rather as you put it love is as strong as ever. Perhaps now that they know they will have to leave the stage sooner rather than later, they are only feeling it more. I can only guess, but I think this phase is also about learning another important lesson in the lives of these greats.

  • on September 5, 2013, 17:22 GMT

    Tendulkar is an undeniable legend of the game, who has just had a bit of poor form of late. He still has a good eye - he'll be back. Long live Sachin.

  • Speng on September 5, 2013, 14:56 GMT

    There are a couple differences between the two though (1) Federer at 32 is still not old for a male tennis player. While he may not have the youthful legs of Nadal (27), Murray, or Djokovic (both 26) he would reasonably expect to be able to play at a fairly high level for another 3 years. His high standing in the history of the game is due to his relatively early supremacy in the game - he won his first grand slam at 22 and was first #1 ranked at 23 which is young for a man. Sachin is 40 and while he too became a great at a relatively young age there is no doubt that 40 is stretching his career. (2) Federer plays an individual sport and even if he reduces his play and falls to a far lower ranking he's not dragging a team down. For a few years one could argue that Sachin was still worth his spot as India were not producing replacements but with an influx of young talent into the team a reduced Sachin would likely be blocking a talented youngster from getting an opportunity.

  • on September 5, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    Very well written Ed, however I think you should have added another legendary sportsman in order complete the Trio of Greats i.e Micheal Schumacher.

  • hhillbumper on September 5, 2013, 9:51 GMT

    Tendulkar is an over rated batsman.He has been molly coddled by BCCI and this would never happen in other test teams.The sooner he retires the better although I do watch him batting as he can't locate the straight ball and he is Jimmy Andersons Bunny. He is past it and was never even the best batsman in his team.That was Dravid who also showed more grace and style.

  • Naresh28 on September 5, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    @btyagi - I Like your comment on legacy and taking breath away. Very true. Sachin's legacy will live on if a youngster can take the barton and pass it on to a future star. We fans must not only be narrowed minded and look at a Sachin or Federer today - think of how they were when they first cam on the scene. We forget easily.

  • sailorsupreme on September 5, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Sachin has gone past the best in the game, and stands head and shoulders above any player past or present. Lesser players have taken ungainly swipes at him, and he has ignored them. Ponting, Hayden, Akhtar(the chukker), Afridi, Ajmal(the most recent khatmal) all have tried belittling him but fans have lambasted their awkward statements and posturing. His board has given him the choice of when to call it quits, and BCCI is the least sentimental when it comes to its own players but in SRT they see real merit and will not dare to insult him like Ponting and Steve waugh were by their cricket board. He has been honored by India, then Australia, and no one will be surprised if he is knighted by England.

  • Lodhisingh on September 5, 2013, 3:24 GMT

    @BradmanBestEver, hussey retired when he was on peak and u can see how their team is struggling in terms of replacements and playing musical chairs with careers of number of youngsters and more importantly the results which are just demoralising for everyone involved. it would be selfish to go out when u r on peak becos u r only thinking of urself. if u think u can contribute to the team's cause, u should keep playing. yes, loss of form is a factor but u cannot simply replace the experience he shares with the youngsters in the team. with laxman and dravid already gone, it wud have been a disaster like the aus team. instead, indian team is already on the turn around in less than a year after hitting the rock bottom. u need some one with a lot of experience in the team to see through the transition and india is lucky as that one person happens to be the absolute best.

  • indianpunter on September 5, 2013, 3:21 GMT

    agree with sagarneel. Tennis is about individual glory and Federer only has to answer to himself. A Fed loss doesnt affect anyone else, but him. Whereas, cricket is a team sport and when tendulkar fails, it drags the team down with him. There is despair, because no one knows when this guy is going to hang up his boots. You've missed the point here, Ed.

  • on September 5, 2013, 2:19 GMT

    Guys remember one thing,even if Tendulkar retires after failing in 5 series, he will be remembered for his greatness,records and what he did before those failed series.. Enjoy Tendulkar untill he is there on the field,because after that we are gonna miss him on field.

  • xtrafalgarx on September 5, 2013, 2:10 GMT

    This is absolutely ridiculous!

    I say that because, what makes you think that these guys love their sport anymore tan any of the other greats who have retired? These two are reminiscent of kids who just don't want to grow up, too afraid to go out into real world alone. I'm not buying it that they love it anymore than anyone else who has played, they are just much more fearful of the real world because they have been comfortable in this world for too long!

  • CricketFanIndUS on September 5, 2013, 1:52 GMT

    continued. . . Have we groomed new star players to do just some of the things that Tendulkar did, and just for a much shorter period of time (no one is even dreaming of half his longevity, of course)? Even this is tough to say in cricket, as it is very difficult to predict at the international test level in different pitch and weather conditions if our new stars can achieve some of those things. It is difficult for the same reason that it takes a lot of time to become a seasoned test batsmen of high caliber, as there is so much learning to do in international tests in different conditions. They say Dravid took a few years of playing in international test cricket to perfect his front foot defense. Other examples are Zaheer's honing of his great bowling skills, Azhar's tuning of the amount of wrist that goes into his shots and many others. The very best players had to work for years while playing at the highest level to achieve their best. It is hard to answer the question.

  • YoBro on September 5, 2013, 1:40 GMT

    On the contrary, that it is quite normal to retire on a low with skills ebbing and returns diminishing. I don't get this obsession with retiring on a high. I respect a player all the more for retiring when he feels like he has nothing left to offer anymore, rather than waiting for the moment when he scores a hundred. I respect a player who's comfortable with his frailty and his susceptibility to failure. Ponting retired after a string of failures. I think no less of him. At work, we don't get to pick the moment to retire, when we've nailed a project or secured a huge deal for our company. Rather, we routinely see many stalwarts at our workplaces known for their landmark contributions, spend their last few years in relative obscurity with very little productivity. What's more, in this life we live, we don't get to pick a glorious moment when we breathe our last. We often leave this Earth being a burden in our old age, or worse battling ailments. Like life, it's cricket.

  • AvidCricFan on September 5, 2013, 1:38 GMT

    Not sure whether its only a true love for game. When big money is involved in terms of match fees, contracts and endorsements, the lure for money may play equally big part as the love for the game. A player, specially great ones, should realize when to hang boots. This is because non-performance will eat their soul out. Legends are made on performances not on keeping their position in the team. Many Indian cricket lovers have moved beyond SRT. The Indian performed admirably in CLT without the great SRT. I don't think the Indian cricket lovers are watching the game simply due to SRT.

  • on September 5, 2013, 1:06 GMT

    Federer and Tendulkar are still in their 30s. Their chosen field of performance is unfortunately a sport, where you start in your teens and are done in 10 years. It is difficult to quit anything when you are in your 30s. What makes it worse - they are champions in their chosen sport. Genius is a curse. Their talent has led them to lead a blinkered life - for the most part not having the luxury to develop a taste for all else that life has to offer. They keep playing because they are scared of letting go of the only thing they know how to do. Yes this is a very cynical view of human behavior - the reason could be love of the sport but more likely it is fear - FEAR OF BEING ORDINARY. Remember how pathetic it was watching Jordan and Magic Johnson attempt comebacks with fading skills. But cut all these champions some slack - pamper them like we have done all their lives - they are not even 40. They will come to grips with all of this. Like all us ordinary human beings do.

  • CricketFanIndUS on September 5, 2013, 1:00 GMT

    It is not easy to time retirement to perfection for these two greats as well as they showed perfection in their game when they were at their best. In cricket, it is easy to say that one should quit at the top of their game. That sounds very selfish as it suggests that the individual's objectives/fame/priorities are above those of the team. All the same one should retire with grace before they are dropped out of the starting 11 or get pushed to announce their retirement. This can then be a very fine line to walk for some players. When Gavaskar retired Indian batting order crumbled in many test matches for a few seasons until the new greats came along. I am not suggesting here that Gavaskar was being selfish, it is just that did not work well right away for India then. That was then, the situation now is different for the Indian team. Have we groomed new star players to do some of the things that Tendulkar did? There will never be a replacement for him, ever perhaps.

  • baskar_guha on September 5, 2013, 0:49 GMT

    Well said, Mr. Smith. To the rest of us, it is cricket. To Tendulkar, it is his world.

  • Iddo555 on September 5, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    About time he retired, he's had his career, now it's time to let the young players have theirs.

  • S_Sen on September 4, 2013, 23:55 GMT

    Tendulkar continues to play because it pays handsomely to do so. He was a marvelous batsman and I am privileged to have seen him play, but he (even more than Sunil Gavaskar) epitomizes the cold, calculating spirit of the new India.

  • on September 4, 2013, 23:52 GMT

    Though this is an article about Roger and Sachin, can we just stand up and salute Ed Smith for this? I'm in love with all his articles. If Roger and Sachin are full of class on the court/field, Ed Smith is all class with a pen in hand. This is such a beautiful article and I'm saving it so that I can read it after a few months, again. Ed Smith has it in him to become one of the finest cricket writers in history. Outstanding work!

  • on September 4, 2013, 22:46 GMT

    federer is known all over the world not just cricketing world. and plenty of steady bowlers like chris lewis abdul razzack and chris fleming have got tendulkar out at his peak.

  • on September 4, 2013, 20:47 GMT

    A very good write up Ed. Keep them coming.

  • on September 4, 2013, 20:27 GMT

    The essence of the article was to ask one primary question - why is Sachin still playing? The author argues, with justifiable passion, that its the love for the game which keeps Sachin going. While this may be true, as a cricket fan, I'm entitled to feel disappointed when I see an iconic player reduced by opposition teams to an ordinary looking player on a regular basis. Its fair to say that post 2011 world cup final, Sachin has been a shadow of himself. The more he continues, more the chances that his wonderful legacy is tarnished further. As a fan, I'd love to have lingering memories of the Sachin of 1998 or 2010. Not of 2011 onwards.

  • BTyagi on September 4, 2013, 19:45 GMT

    Very nice article Ed....both Sachin and Roger are undisputed legends and has been at top for most of their lives. However, i beg to dffer that 'belonging' is the reason they are still attached to the game. I'm one of those fan of both these legends that would drop any work to watch them play...will glue to TV and shut from the world. Feel very fortunate to have seen the era of both these legends and think of telling the tales of these legends to coming generations. I would like to see them as Champions everytime they take field - dominating, ruthless and unflinching. Will they leave this legacy for me to tell to coming generations if they keep struggling like they do today? Answer is simply -NO. Their contribution go beyond the sport they play - they have to think about legacy as well. As someone has said - 'Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breadth away'. Those moments should be their legacy.

  • on September 4, 2013, 19:44 GMT

    Sport is incredible:federer, tendulkar,tiger,M schumi place in history is secure but even THEY can't conquer every moment as we saw with federer some time back

  • on September 4, 2013, 19:41 GMT

    sachin gives us a lot to enjoy.we should not be fair weather friends.we need to support him in his bad times.there are still many cricket left in him.so let him play freely.when sachin retires everybody will understand what he for cricket.cricket is our religion and sachin is our god.

  • TequillaGuy on September 4, 2013, 19:31 GMT

    Roger Federer and Sachin have so much passion and love for the game that they are willing to put up with these losses to players whom they used to dominate and the constant public expectation to retire, not to mention, their own fears and doubts regarding their ability and longevity. For me, that is what separates them from 'us' fans. Their willingness to fight and stay relevant in spite of all this is what makes them gods :)

  • on September 4, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    people who call for SRT's retirement are managers. people who support SRT playing are artists.

  • gsingh7 on September 4, 2013, 19:01 GMT

    @bradmenbestbastmen-- hussey did a big disservice to australia by retiring early. did u think he was comfortable watching aus being whitewashed in india 4-0 then thrashed in england 3-0 while he was sitting at home ? no is the answer.. he cud and should have carried for few years to complete the "transition" which ca so blatantly tells the press. few bad innings of sachin does not diminish his contribution to world cricket and his stature as demi god in the eyes of his humble fans. love of the game far outweighs any results.

  • tendulkarfan69 on September 4, 2013, 19:00 GMT

    It is like a mirage to them. The greatness that these individuals have achieved, makes them believe that they can still do the same wonders; but reality is that age has caught up. They hand eye co-ordination and response time has deteriorated. Of course there will be good days and not so good days, but the percentage of not so good days has increased to a point where a deserving player is unable to be included in the team because of Tendulkar unable to "LET GO." Tennis is individual sport and therefore RF does not impact any other player.

    Michael Jordan did the same and would be able to understand better. As you have rightly stated; Tendulkar and Federer have nothing left to prove to anybody.

    Sachin Tendulkar, Roger Federer, Michael Jordan, Micheal Phelps and Tiger Woods are the greatest in their respective sports and all (albeit Tiger Woods) suffer from the same mirage syndrome. I am sure Tiger Woods will also do the same when he reaches that phase in his career!

    Great article!

  • Nampally on September 4, 2013, 18:46 GMT

    An excellent summary laced with great philosophical outpouring, Ed. I almost got into the fantasy land!.Guys like Tendulkar or Federer are Legends born with great talent for their craft.Their love & dedication enabled them to be perfectionists. It becomes extremely hard to part with your First love & obesession. The examples of Tendulkar & Federer, that you have chosen, truly reflect such Maestros. Sachin was a super Cricketer even as a young boy of 16. I saw SRT in Toronto at this age compiling about 80 odd runs with such magical fluency that his genius was self evident. Not since Gavaskar I saw another Indian batsman of this calibre. Sachin carried his love for Cricket to new heights to become one of the greatest batsmen in the Cricket history. He shone brightly, like Haley's comet but for >2 decades!. Unfortunately, unlike the great Sitar Genius, Ravi Shankar, Sachin cannot practice his craft into age 90's! As Cricket Fans, We thank Sachin for the great memories when he retires!

  • Ishqkaro on September 4, 2013, 18:36 GMT

    Sachin should continue to play. Period.

  • on September 4, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    Good article.......... Success is a habit.......

  • akpy on September 4, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    I am sachin's die-hard fan and wonder about the people, especially indian fans constantly posting demeaning comments about this jewel of india. May be he has not timed his test retirement perfectly based on his stats in the last year or so, but we will see. He was the first one to drop out of International 20-20s in 2007 (dada and dravid joined him and they made it like a collective decision though they woud have not been picked anyway). He retired from ODIs without seeking any fanfare (and for those crazy fans who says he plays for records, he was on 49 centuries and 96 fifties) and again retired from IPL this year without making any grand announcements, just a casual mention when Harsha interviewed him. He feels he can still contribute in tests and if you see his performance against Australia, he was playing alright but just kept getting out after getting in - may be it is time to go, but let him decide - who are we?

  • gramedgar on September 4, 2013, 17:33 GMT

    Great article as ever Ed.

  • EverybodylovesSachin on September 4, 2013, 17:29 GMT

    Please do not pressure Sachin to retire...He will go to SA tour maybe England next year..Love to see him playing.

  • on September 4, 2013, 16:59 GMT

    Respect has nothing to do with him eating up a chance for a youngster to blossom, my philosophy is simple, if you are jealous of youngsters taking up your spot, you are one selfish person. If Sachin has to play because he is a good player, then answer this, WERE LARA, PONTING, INZAMAM all amateurs ??????????

    There comes a time in everyone's life when they have to pave the way for the young blood, the future of the country. If he is worried about income and salary, then tell him cricket has almost 10 cricket leagues out there, end of story,

  • on September 4, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    As usual excellent write up. You are one of the best writers who always find a new angle, or rather a new topic to write on. Well done Ed

  • RudolphFernandz on September 4, 2013, 16:52 GMT

    Very insightful. If you've watched Sachin closely on TV, through his career, you find him absorbed in the game. He's chewing his lips or his inner cheek. When fielding his eyes are darting all over trying to 'create' an opportunity for his team. When bowling he keeps fidgeting with his placements, his pace, his line and length, bowling around and over. If he can't get your wicket, he'll slow you down, if he can't slow you down he'll induce a forced error in running between the wickets. When batting he'll hammer you or simply drill the ball within inches of a fielder you've just moved. And the joy on his face when a mate gets a wicket or smashes a boundary is so unalloyed that it has to be sincere. Those who say Sachin is clinging on because of money or fame have just not watched him closely enough. It is just as he's said (and feared) - he can't imagine a life without cricket; a terrible burden for him to bear.

  • on September 4, 2013, 16:49 GMT

    Very well written article. Sachin is stll playing not because of money, note because of fame only coz of his LOVE for the Game of Cricket. May he plays well in upcoming series and show the world that although tiger is old but still better than young lambs....

  • PrateekSarawgi4 on September 4, 2013, 16:45 GMT

    Fantastic piece Mr.Smith ! What a wonderful analogy between two of the greatest and most followed sportsmen alive today. Tendulkar definitely has carried a huge burden of over a billion people and Federer also had to do that as he is followed all around the globe, definitely in more nations than Tendulkar. And I completely agree that its the extraordinary amount of love and passion for the game that they possess which keeps them going. And i'm sure if it were not for the laws of nature, the aging of the human body, the legends would have carried on for time immemorial.

  • DaGameChanger on September 4, 2013, 16:13 GMT

    I have also noticed some people have audacity to tell rest of the world that Tendulkar or Federer are ordinary as soon as they drop their performance and forget what they have done over two decades. Such people have never done anything in their lives but ordinary but will keep throwing such comments to make their ego feel good.

  • DaGameChanger on September 4, 2013, 16:10 GMT

    Tendulkar and Federer are like Soldiers who spent their lives fighting war. They think they'll struggle to live normal life post-war. They want to be there in middle of action. Everything else is life is inferior to them compare to thrill when they're playing their favorite sport. Anyway RESPECT to legends.

  • Indefatigible on September 4, 2013, 15:36 GMT

    If my memory serves me right, Sachin hasn't scored a hundred in his last 22 test matches (around 40 test innings). If that isn't enough of an indication that the selectors need to show him the door, I don't know what is. So what if he's only played 198 test matches, why does he need to play 200? Brian Lara retired with 11953 runs in his test match career. If he played another series or even a solitary test match, he could have been the first man to score 12000 runs in Test cricket (at that time). However, the West Indians don't play for records. Unfortunately, the Indians do. They're obsessed with stats and numbers. Sad but true.

  • Indefatigible on September 4, 2013, 15:24 GMT

    This is a fantastic write up Ed. Just this morning, I woke up asking myself the same question. Why do ST and RF keep playing when they are clearly past their prime? It's evident that they think a big hundred or a win in a grand slam final is just around the corner. However, it's crystal clear that their skills are waning and as you've so beautifully put it, they have nothing left to achieve in their respective sports. I still think the lure of the lucre gets to them, although they may not be mercenary by nature. Nevertheless, it's about time both these icons see the writing on the wall and realise that their glory days are over. Once again Ed, a fantastic article.

  • on September 4, 2013, 15:17 GMT

    Let me give you an example. The other evening, while I was walking home, a couple of teenage girls jogged past me. Look at that, I thought. Those girls are jogging because they want to look good. Then a few seconds later, an old guy jogged past. Look at that, I thought. That old guy is jogging because he wants to carry on living. Perhaps the old guy was going just a little slower, his cheeks puffing out just a little more with every stride, but essentially it was same activity, the same gait. And yet the age of the protagonist made all the difference. Tennis and cricket come as easily to Federer & Tendulkar as jogging, and yet the context has subtly changed. Once, they played because they wanted to look good. Now, they play because they want to carry on living.

  • itsthewayuplay on September 4, 2013, 15:08 GMT

    Why stay? That's the question many people have been askin and contiue to ask. You have ruled out money because he has plenty of it but the even the richest people in the world always want more. If Tendulkar loves the game so much then surely he would think now is the time for someone to be given the same opportunity he was once given. There's no doubt Tendulkar at his peak was one of the finest players to have played the game, and as you have correcctly observed, with the weight of a billion-plus on his shoulders and when Indian cricket was full of scandals - but that was many years ago. You only have to go on to You Tube for highlights of the brilliance of his strokeplay but what those clips don't do is capture the sheer thrill, excitement and magic his name and prescence used to generate. Before we used to wait for Sachin come out to bat and now we wait for him to get out such is his decline. What a great shame and utterly sad end to a career for one of the truly all-time greats.

  • BradmanBestEver on September 4, 2013, 14:23 GMT

    I agree with you Vinay Kolhatkar. Well said. It is best to retire when you are on top - like Mike Hussey did. In this way, you wont be remembered for sub-standard performances as your skills were weakening with age.

  • Sagarneel on September 4, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    Point well taken, however, is it logical to compare a player who plays a team sport and another who plays as an individual? A failure of Sachin doesn't necessarily mean defeat to India, however, its not the case for Federer. Both are legends by their own rights, and the reason they are what they are today is because of the love that they have for the sport they are involved in. We mere mortals will never be able to assess the amount of passion and commitment these guys have for the game..and to I guess they continue telling themselves 'How about another century/ grand slam? I am SRT/Federer, and I know I have it in me'. Imagine the case of Michael Schumacaher...the greatest ever F1 icon who returned to racing after retiring. I guess it's like a young guy having a crush on the girl he is infatuated with. It's irresistible..you can't think beyond it!

  • on September 4, 2013, 13:36 GMT

    Well done Mr. Ed Smith. I consider Sachin Tendulkar and Roger Federer international ambassadors. The United Nations ought to add them to its team.

  • on September 4, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    1 year back Sachin told the same thing when being asked why still continue to play by Arnab Goswami in the show frankly speaking with Arnab Goswami. And his reply was very simple," because That's all I know". I understood what it means to him or any other sportsman that day itself.

  • on September 4, 2013, 13:23 GMT

    Wow man!... I am just stunned to read whatever you have written!... That is why people love these 2 legends... They love their sport so much... And they are best when they are playing!...

  • parthaacs on September 4, 2013, 13:06 GMT

    I think all those who are asking for SRT to retire should get lost, especially if they are Indian fans. Guys show some respect for the great man.

  • shane-oh on September 4, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    @Vinay Kolhatkar - to claim that you must add 5 to those players averages to make a comparison strongly suggests that you are simply determined to interpret statistics in a way which supports your pre-determined conclusion.

    Tendulkar is one of the greatest batsmen of all time; probably only behind The Don. Argue that he should be dropped if you must, but trying to argue that he isn't that good is futile and will always fail. He is a class above all the players you have mentioned, by far the best of his generation. His astonishing career is testament to this fact.

  • on September 4, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    magical article...the reason i tuned to cricket wuz srt,the reason i tuned to tennis was rf......its disheartening to see people calling for these legends retirement..dey ve given us plenty of memories to savour...let us give them their own space which i think they richly deserve.. i just hope dey carry on playing for a few more years and end their careers on a flying note...it would be disheartening to see sachin crawl with struggles to retirement......let them end on a bright and a happy note

  • hycIass on September 4, 2013, 12:39 GMT

    The question has to be asked

  • on September 4, 2013, 12:15 GMT

    SRT is still playing because the selectors haven't had the guts to not select him. Boon, Ponting, Kumble, VVS were all quietly told to retire, otherwise they too would have kept on playing for a few more years. Some sportsmen realise they no longer pull their weight in the team, some don't. RF is different, tennis is an individual sport, he does not harm any team by keeping on playing. It is NONSENSICAL to compare RF with SRT. ABSOLUTELY NONSENSICAL. RF is the most graceful and the most successful player ever; he could best be compared with Sobers, and Rod Laver with Bradman so that all-time greats are compared with all-time greats. SRT is as good as Ponting, Cook, Sangakarra, Sehwag, Kallis, Amla, Gavaskar, KP, and many others, but NOT better than them. One must add 5 to the averages of Cook, Gavaskar & Sehwag--opening is a hard task in test cricket, and SRT never did that. He has simply lasted longer than the others. Of that, the last 2.5 years, he has lasted because of reputation.

  • Sukruti on September 4, 2013, 11:50 GMT

    It is a thoroughly professional article by Ed Smith. He must have really travelled through the hearts of the two great sportsmen to bring out so many feelings. Like death is inveitable to this material body, so as the retirement to any profession, but not to the passion, which is and should be deep to the bone.

  • on September 4, 2013, 11:46 GMT

    A masterpiece ,.... wonderfully written. It is indeed the love for their games that makes federer and sachin going.

  • on September 4, 2013, 11:42 GMT

    Awesome article... I have always thought on the similar lines and now every game they will play is going to be a bonus... Just want to enjoy watching these guys play... Its very difficult to believe that these guys would not be taking the field very soon... Sachin and Roger... I love u guys!!

  • on September 4, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    But the buzz about Fed's retirement has only just begun! This is different from SRT who's just hanging on.

  • Haleos on September 4, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    @drs_flawed_technology - India do not play Test cricket because Sachin plays it. We still play more tests than many other countries. @ moBlue - Very well put. Also 2 back to back centuries in Sarjah against the auusies at their peak and the one immediately on returning after his fathers death in the world cup. There are countless other moments. Most of fans who disregard him are the ones who do not have a batting legend in their own favorite team one hundredth as good as SRT. I personally think he should play till he is in form and not till he becomes a bunny for bowlers.

  • concerned_cricketer on September 4, 2013, 10:37 GMT

    The reason why I watch him every time I can on TV and hope that he settles in for a long one: so that I can watch some of thos beautifully executed strokes again and again. I like most of the strokes but straight drive is the best. On TV they only show two or three replays of each stroke. If he settles in, you can watch it about 75 times (including the replays). And the strike rate is never bad ie the game usually never looks boring when he is around.

  • Shankar_Mannadiar on September 4, 2013, 10:16 GMT

    Good one Ed, the last 3 paragraphs are awesome

  • Hardy1 on September 4, 2013, 10:15 GMT

    I think pressure from the BCCI, all his sponsors & pretty much everyone surrounding him probably plays a part. No one with a vested interest in him wants him to retire because he helps so many people make so much money, as well as of course the financial incentive for himself, even though it may not be that big. But yes ultimately I agree with the jist of the article, good read.

  • on September 4, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Wonderful article. Few retirement decisions have generated so much controversy. A decade from now people will still be debating it. Makes the sport all the more richer and memorable in the long run !

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on September 4, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    what is the fate of test cricket after sachin's retirement in india?

  • chokkashokka on September 4, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    (i) He plays because he is still one of most skillful players in the world. Why did Jack Nicklaus play till he did? (ii) cricket is not exactly the most demanding athletic sport specially for test match batsmen. (iii) 40 in 2013 is not the same 40 in 1980's, 1990's or the last decade - exercise and nutrition science has made exponential advances and more and more athletes are playing well into their 40s. Look at Brett Favre (formerly of the Green Bay Packers) and Kurt Warner (of the Arizona Cardinals) and there is no comparison of the athletic skills required in football and batting in a test match.

    Bottom line people are trying to fit their own idea of 40 over a guy who feels good about his art and his skillset - how would these arm chair experts like if some Joe Schmo off the street tells them how they need to make their living and feed their families. Tendulkar is happy - his employer is happy and so are his coworkers and he is still world class. retirement argument is tired.

  • CricketChat on September 4, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    Good analysis. In their hay days, both Federer and Sachin belonged to the highest echelons of their sport. However, even the most ardent of their fans would agree they are dragging on despite clear signs of progressive decline in the past 2 yrs. Their refusal to accept mortality is fairly understandable as they have reached heights most humans can only dream of. I only hope they will leave the playing field (whenever that happens) with their fans still holding them in high regard.

  • Biophysicist on September 4, 2013, 9:34 GMT

    @dj_dhananjay: I am not surprised by your comment about Tendulkar that "He is STILL India's BEST number 4 in Tests". He has to be, because no other player has been given a chance to play at that position (no. 4) and hence it is a one man race, which he will win, even if that means his average drops further to 20s, 10s, or even into the single digits. Currently, he averages a below mediocre 31.8 in 21 test over the last 24 months of his test batsmanship without a single century! I insist that it is improper to compare him with Roger Federer because Federer plays as an individual and he is not selected by his board/country. If his performance has been as pathetic as Tendulkar's batting for 2 years, he won't even geet seeded in any of the Grand Slams! Finally, note that test cricket is played by only about 10 countries, whereas people from over 150 countries play tennis in a competitive manner.

  • moBlue on September 4, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    i think y'all are forgetting another key factor that made a champion like SRT the world-beater that he is! ...and that is that champions love a challenge and they *never* give up!!!

    as soon as dravid and VVS retired, i knew that SRT would stick around... for there is unfinished business left yet... although he has made 4 or so valiant attempts at it before. the scintillating first-day hundred where he suddenly switched gears - and displayed the upper-cut over slips in test cricket for the first time ever and left me gobsmacked! - with IND teetering on a superfast centurion pitch at 68 for 4, and a debutant whom he also guided expertly to his maiden test hundred, in 2002, comes to mind, as does the hundred in cape town in the last test where he came close to besting this challenge, a 2010 series that IND had to settle for a 1-1 draw in, thanks to kallis!

    so, yeah, i think SRT has not yet retired because he wants another shot at beating SA in SA, though with young-uns for company!!!

  • Amit_13 on September 4, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    Ed, this is simply superb. If the day ever comes, I'd love to sit at a ground somewhere and pick your brains about the subtleties of sport. I couldn't agree more about what drives them.

    There's also the solemn pursuit of perfection. Sachin and RF have most likely given up on the rankings or weren't bothered in the first place. But it may be the relentless pursuit of perfection that drives them now. Their own secret weaknesses being worked on beyond the glare of people's eyes. And that being unfurled in front of thousands when perfected. I can think of the clip over slips being an example of such pursuits. It came about after the tennis elbow and the ruling out of the flashing square cuts from SRT. Why else would you have a surgery and start practice two months before the season at 40?

    The 'middle' might just be the only oasis of calm and control left for an otherwise rapidly changing life. Under the warm sun and above the grass...

  • Naresh28 on September 4, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    Thanks for a lovely article and well worth reading. We fans thought after the India WC win he would retire on that high. He did not, but has shut the door on T20 and ODI's. I suspect this gradual withdrawal from the game is the way he will leave. When he eventually goes from Tests, we will see someone like Kohli take over the mantle then Tendulkar will quietly slip away. His heart is with the team and he would prefer the team stands on its feet than to leave a big vacuum. Just yesterday a former India coach spoke of the NO4 spot in the Indian team - the most coveted spot.

  • callsaurabh7 on September 4, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    Absolutely brilliant article.......worth reading again and again......I feel that these two great icons have brought so much grace to their respective sports that it will be impossible for the coming generation to emulate.......Just love both the players........I wish to watch them play for some more time as i just love to watch them play irrespective of their wins or losses.......

  • on September 4, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    such a brilliant article, loved every part of it

  • on September 4, 2013, 8:41 GMT

    The corollary is those professionals who departed to early, such as Ed Smith, Michael Vaughan, Nasser Hussain and Andrew Strauss. They could have taken a leaf out of Colin Cowdrey's or Mark Ramprakash's book. So much still to give

  • warnerbasher on September 4, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    Not sure about mastery. A fine player when building his average as an Indian test meanders to another pointless draw. However if I were looking for Indian batsmen who play the truly great pressure innings with a test match on the line give me Dravid and Laxman any day of the week and twice on Sunday

  • 100_rabh on September 4, 2013, 8:07 GMT

    Wonderful piece Ed and a great timing also. With India's SA tour fate hanging in balance, most of the fans will relate the BCCI's decision with ST. But i doubt that he would have insisted that he wants to play his 200th/last test at home. Its BCCI who is cashing in on the 'milestone' by arranging a WI tour and is geting back to SA board at the same time.. Ever heard of killing 2 birds with one stone. On retirement, i think these legends know that they are still better, if not best, than the rest. Thats why i wanted this SA tour to happen. It would have separated men from the boys. I still think Sachin is our best batsman overseas.

  • on September 4, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    Little Master should not be retire before Misbah ul Haq :)

  • LazyBones... on September 4, 2013, 7:49 GMT

    A lovely article. I likewise have always drawn parallels between Tendulkar and Federer and I feel a little sadness at their declines because they have a broader context within their sports. It seems that these two artists are moving aside to make way for a different type of player. In tennis we now live in an age where speed, strength and endurance are almost as important as shot making ability. And in cricket its more about boundary claring biceps than beauty, technique and concentration. You use the word serenity in your article. That word seems to be disappearing from the lexicon of both tennis and cricket.

  • sachinisawesome on September 4, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    @ MaruthuDelft Sangakara is not even 10% of Tendulkar. Sanga is not even the best of Sri Lanka.

  • on September 4, 2013, 7:31 GMT

    Tendulkar loves the game, simple as. He also unites India, more than any other player. I went to school with a lot of Gujaratis but they saw him as their "local" hero even though he is Marathi. A true king.

  • jimbond on September 4, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    I guess he is there because the Indian team needs him, and he loves to play (and also earn a lot due to his cult status). The south african tour- if it happens, would help to demonstrate how much the Indian team needs him, as there are few players in the Indian team who have even reasonable technique to play on those SA pitches.

  • Nutcutlet on September 4, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    Cricket, especially cricket in India, owes Tendulkar an enormous debt. He has, I think, become the best known Indian on the planet & in so becoming, he has raised the profile of cricket in countries that otherwise would give cricket short shrift. I am fully appreciative of his monumental career, his awesome records, the adulation he inspires as India's favourite son. He has nothing left to prove, except one fact that is coming into ever-sharper focus: he is playing through the longest-ever decline of any sportsman anywhere. It's a little like watching a sunset in the UK in June. It lasts a very long time, but it is getting darker & the sun itself has vanished long ago. IMO, he plays on for all of the reasons Ed Smith has catalogued, but there is one fact that lies below all of the rest, IMO. India has no other cricketer (or any other sportsman) who can tranfix the nation as he can. Thus he plays on, plays out of memory, to keep his era alive long after he should have put his bat away.

  • rashivkd on September 4, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    Yes, Brilliant article..! As you said, the biggest pull is love, love for the game.

    For a man into 40s, it is easy to sit in the courtyard, enjoy each moment with the family, send some throw down to his son, spend time in the beach or golf cource or commentary box or even in politics what ever he likes. But at the moment, he is spending a lot of hours in the nets, working on his techniques and even dreaming a hundred in the next match.

    Yes, it is only because of love for the game!!!

  • Raveey_ on September 4, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    Thank You so much for this wonderful article Ed. You made my day . Very thoughtful and true.

  • on September 4, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    you gotta be kidding MaruthuDelft.. Sanga is a good batsman and more than that he is a good human being... i accept that... but u cant compare him with one of the legends of world cricket.

  • arunrajaram on September 4, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    All I can say about this article is brilliant and very well written. As a great fan of both it hurts to see them fail every time. At times mind may be cruel in saying retire but heart says otherwise! I listen to my heart and not my mind!! :)

  • Kailash1988 on September 4, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    great article, but where the author fails to compare these 2 legends is in the fact that Tennis is an individual sport and Cricket is not..... Fedex can play as long as he wishes without affecting anyone, but it can't be said with SRT.... he holds up a place which could be filled by a younger talent...... its obvious that no one can replace SRT, and again there is a big BUT.....

  • JohnnyRook on September 4, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    Great article. I have asked this to myself a lot of times. Why Tendulkar is going on and on. Why doesn't he just retire. I have one more theory about it. Deep down, most sportsmen are a little "pigheads" (It may sound derogatory but its not). Being one myself, same can be said about entrepreneurs.

    Tendulkar has probably been hearing that he should stop playing sport and focus on something safer and easier since he was 8 years old. And he has been going on believing that he is good eough and detractors are wrong. To borrow from "Million Dollar Baby", it is a dream which you alone see and no one else does. My guess is that along with love of sport and belonging, Tendulkar and Federee still want to prove the detractors wrong once again.

  • supacricfan on September 4, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    One of the best articles of recent times,if not the best..well done Ed!Sachin and Federer are the greatest icons in their respective games..both have seen the greatest peaks in their career and at the same time both have seen their lows as well.Both refusing to fade away as they still feel they have got something in them left still, both of them have clearly past their best but just for the sake of Romantics hope sachin scores heavily in his last few tests and Federer wins atleast one more grand slam..that will make it perfect end to their careers and make their endless fans all over the world happy..Truly great article!!

  • on September 4, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    There is a very simple saying for working professionals Love your job not the company because you never know when the company will stop loving you. Sachin the greatest ever Indian sports icon has nothing left to offer the game anymore and exit gracefully before asked to quit the game.

    Kumble, Laxman and Dravid are a true sportsmen and Sachin should finish off with his head held high. The last 2 years of Sachin's game has made even an ordinary bowler look threatening and for sure we Sachin fans are feeling more embarrassed the way the great man has been performing.

    SRT right time to say good bye to international cricket and play domestic cricket to groom youngsters and by this you can give something back to the game you love the most

  • Pathiyal on September 4, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    Players like Sachin, Federer, Bolt, Schumacher, have refined their sports a lil bit to make it more watchable. they have achieved their motto already....and fans love them for whatever they have done. i agree when someone says that among the current lot of batsmen nobody has ever dominated the game like Sachin did...and for how many years...whether it is domestic, tests or ODIs. the way he gets attention, ratings, respect and what not. but my question is how effective Sachin has been in the past 4 years for the team considering the fact his is a team game.

  • on September 4, 2013, 5:47 GMT

    @Ramanujam Nanduri...I guess the comparison is spot on...A cricketer specially a batsman can play a lot longer than a tennis player...A Tennis player needs a greater level of fitness and strength compared to a batsman..A good article...

  • on September 4, 2013, 4:48 GMT

    Excellent article - the biggest pull is "Love - love for the game, nervous excitement, etc". A lil hurt when u compared SRT to RF as SRT donned for 21 years and RF for 12 years.. a vast difference... Yet, well put with available closest and most recent example....

  • on September 4, 2013, 4:42 GMT

    Well written and thought through

  • on September 4, 2013, 4:41 GMT

    awesome article about 10dulkar.i always love him and will.

  • TATTUs on September 4, 2013, 4:34 GMT

    That man has been playing for the lsat 23 years. Can you believe it? 23 years! To tell him to stop just because he has been playing for 23 years would be to tell me to stop living because I have been living for 25 years. Yes, thats what he has been doing, he is living his life and his life is cricket.

  • dj_dhananjay on September 4, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    I see no reason for Tendulkar to retire. He is STILL India's BEST number 4 in Tests. The only reason for Tendulkar to retire - would be personal. Even if Tendulkar retires from representing India in Tests, he should continue to play domestic cricket for a couple of more seasons....His presence in the domestic circuit would add phenomenal value....

  • Atul on September 4, 2013, 4:24 GMT

    Beautifully put. The big question is whether they can pull off one more streak of good performances. I very much doubt it but would be thrilled if it happens.

  • vish2020 on September 4, 2013, 4:16 GMT

    @Maruthudelft hahahahahahaahahahhahahaahahahah did you just compare sangakara with one of the greatest player in history of cricket? Hahahahahahaahahahhahahaahahahah you Sri Lankans are provide the best humor

  • on September 4, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    Tendulkar has to retire from all forms of cricket with immediate effect . Having seen Tendulkar toy around with world class bowlers for years , it is painful to see him struggle against ordinary bowlers . After all , nobody can defy age and Tendulkar is no exception . We have learnt to watch test cricket without great players like Dravid,Laxman and Kumble . Let us prepare ourselves to watch India play without Tendulkar .

  • on September 4, 2013, 4:13 GMT

    Brilliant Article ........

  • on September 4, 2013, 4:11 GMT

    Nice article Ed, I for sure looking forward to see him play his 200th Test and hoping for a "late burst of creativity"... a massive 300+ score maybe :-)

  • VVBHAT on September 4, 2013, 4:05 GMT

    I started watching cricket because of Sachin.. made it my religion... made it my hobbie.. I'll be uninterested in all of it when the God of the Cricket fades away..

  • MaruthuDelft on September 4, 2013, 4:03 GMT

    Tendulkar is nothing compared to Federer; Sangakara is the best produced in Asia.

  • keyancools on September 4, 2013, 3:59 GMT

    Sweet article,really nice of you writing such an article about the cricket's legend.

  • sachseh on September 4, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    Superb article. Clearly Ed Smith understands the mind of a champion. We have pulled down every sportsman at the fag end of their career unmindful of the years of sacrifice they have put in to give joy to those of us who love the sport. Great essay Mr. Smith!

  • on September 4, 2013, 3:37 GMT

    I have always wondered how SRT has managed to keep his humility and composure despite the remarkable adulation he has been the recipient of for the last 22 years. Any lesser mortal would have collapsed under the pressure that he has had to bear.

  • on September 4, 2013, 3:15 GMT

    great article bro.... he's not playing for India nowadays he's just playing for the sake of BCCI....

  • CricFan24 on September 4, 2013, 3:03 GMT

    Beautiful article. And I for one watch cricket for the Love of Tendulkar...

  • CricFan24 on September 4, 2013, 3:03 GMT

    Beautiful article. And I for one watch cricket for the Love of Tendulkar...

  • on September 4, 2013, 3:15 GMT

    great article bro.... he's not playing for India nowadays he's just playing for the sake of BCCI....

  • on September 4, 2013, 3:37 GMT

    I have always wondered how SRT has managed to keep his humility and composure despite the remarkable adulation he has been the recipient of for the last 22 years. Any lesser mortal would have collapsed under the pressure that he has had to bear.

  • sachseh on September 4, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    Superb article. Clearly Ed Smith understands the mind of a champion. We have pulled down every sportsman at the fag end of their career unmindful of the years of sacrifice they have put in to give joy to those of us who love the sport. Great essay Mr. Smith!

  • keyancools on September 4, 2013, 3:59 GMT

    Sweet article,really nice of you writing such an article about the cricket's legend.

  • MaruthuDelft on September 4, 2013, 4:03 GMT

    Tendulkar is nothing compared to Federer; Sangakara is the best produced in Asia.

  • VVBHAT on September 4, 2013, 4:05 GMT

    I started watching cricket because of Sachin.. made it my religion... made it my hobbie.. I'll be uninterested in all of it when the God of the Cricket fades away..

  • on September 4, 2013, 4:11 GMT

    Nice article Ed, I for sure looking forward to see him play his 200th Test and hoping for a "late burst of creativity"... a massive 300+ score maybe :-)

  • on September 4, 2013, 4:13 GMT

    Brilliant Article ........

  • on September 4, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    Tendulkar has to retire from all forms of cricket with immediate effect . Having seen Tendulkar toy around with world class bowlers for years , it is painful to see him struggle against ordinary bowlers . After all , nobody can defy age and Tendulkar is no exception . We have learnt to watch test cricket without great players like Dravid,Laxman and Kumble . Let us prepare ourselves to watch India play without Tendulkar .