2012 Review

The year-end essay 2

The thorny question of retirement

What gives us the right to expect a player to know exactly when to give it all up?

Sambit Bal

January 4, 2013

Comments: 56 | Text size: A | A

Sachin Tendulkar walks out at the Eden Gardens, India v England, 3rd Test, Kolkata, 1st day, December 5, 2012
If Tendulkar doesn't want the fans' idea of a fairytale ending, who can blame him? © BCCI

Giving up has never been easy. Ask yourself. We struggle to even give up the small pleasures that are harmful for us: cigarettes, alcohol, chocolate. But yet we expect sportsmen to walk away from the thing they love most, the thing that defines them, and a pursuit that has consumed their lives since they were teenagers, or even earlier, because we think it is time.

Sportsmen need to make this call at an age when the rest of us are ready to begin the best phase of our careers. And they need to do so without a clear sense of what the future holds, and in the knowledge that nothing in the rest of their lives will probably provide the highs and thrills, let alone the fame and the adulation, that sport can, and that life from here on will most likely be mundane and ordinary.

And we expect them make this call with dignity and grace.

Of course, Sachin Tendulkar should have given up one-day cricket after India won the World Cup in 2011. That's the fairytale we wanted for him. We want to frame in our minds picture-perfect images of our heroes. We want to remember them as winners, at the height of their glory, at the peak of their game. There was nothing left for Tendulkar to achieve in the one-day game, and for his fans, there could never be a grander farewell than a World Cup win.

But what if Tendulkar didn't see it that way? What if he didn't want our fairytale? What if he just wanted to play? Why is Roger Federer still playing? Why was Mohammed Ali fighting Trevor Berbick at the age 39? Why did Diego Maradona bother to even turn up at the 1994 World Cup?

But then, why do we expect sportsmen to time their departures so that our image of them isn't sullied by their struggle?

In a team sport such as cricket, players don't need to know when to go. In fact, it is an unfair expectation. Cricketers may be granted the dignity of announcing their retirement, but selectors are paid to make choices. We don't yet know if Tendulkar received a tap on the shoulder about his presence in India's one-day team, but if he didn't, the selectors failed him, and they failed Indian cricket.

The last year was one of big departures, and not one of those players went the way their fans would have wished them to have done. Rahul Dravid went with quiet dignity, but in hindsight, his fans would have wanted him to go out on the back of his three hundreds in England in 2011 and not after his stumps had been shattered in all possible manners. By all accounts, VVS Laxman retired hurt, the most handsome and lissome of batsmen reduced to prodding and groping for the ball, and with calls for his removal growing louder. Brett Lee, having gone from Test cricket already, merely faded away. Tatenda Taibu went in obscurity. Andrew Strauss' final dismissal was symbolic: he surrendered his wicket, offering no stroke to a ball that nailed him in front of the stumps, just as England surrendered the Test crown he had played such a vital role in securing. And Ricky Ponting, the cricketer involved in the most wins in the history of the game, went after a crushing defeat and series of feeble dismissals one of which had him on all fours while the stumps rattled behind him. Only Mike Hussey is leaving while people are still asking: why not a series or two more?

History will, of course, judge them not for the manner of their going but for the sum of their contributions and by the impact they had on the fortunes of their teams. And eventually fans will remember them for the flames they lit in their hearts.

Sportsmen should not carry on merely on the weight of reputation in a team sport, but neither should they be grudged the desire to hold on to the most special thing in their lives for a bit longer. After all, as Viv Richards reminded Tendulkar a while ago, sportsmen stay retired for a long time.

Sportsmen should not carry on merely on the weight of reputation in a team sport, but neither should they be grudged the desire to hold on to the most special thing in their lives for a bit longer

Remembering Tony
By most standards, 66 is too young to die. For someone with so much life in him, Tony Greig went awfully soon. I couldn't possibly add too much in terms of evaluating his contribution to the game than what has already been written on this site, but allow me to share a few memories.

I don't remember when I met him in person for the first time, but I knew him since 2000, when I edited total-cricket.com, a start-up website owned by the late Mark Mascarenhas. Mark lined up a galaxy of stars from broadcasting as contributors, but only two gave the impression that they were there to do a job: Ian Chappell and Tony Greig. Their work was thorough and diligent, and once the schedule was set, they never needed a reminder.

When we expanded our roster of contributors at ESPNcricinfo, they were among the people I signed up. Tony surprised me by volunteering to use Skype to record his audio show. That was 2003; internet telephony was still a new concept, but Tony was up with the latest. Each time we spoke on the phone or met, he would ask questions about operational details and trends in digital media and offer suggestions. What he did for us was a very small part of his overall work, but he always let you know that he was part of the team.

I remember recording our first audio discussion show, hosted by Sanjay Manjrekar, in a hotel room in Ahmedabad, with Tony and Ian as guests. They sat around a small table with a newly acquired recorder that took some effort to get going. While the recording was on Tony gave one of us the key to his room to fetch a bottle of wine he had brought. "We ought to celebrate the first show," he said, and since there were no bars in Ahmedabad, he had made provisions. He never finished a day without a glass of red.

He came enthusiastically with us to Lalit Modi's office to record another episode, and he brought his own questions. This was before he was blacklisted by Modi for his involvement with the Indian Cricket League, and they chatted animatedly for a few minutes after the recording was over. "This man will go far,'' Tony said when we were on our own.

Our professional relationship ended when he became a director on the ICL board, but he was always warm and generous when we met. I regret not being able to take up his invitation to his New Year's Eve party in Sydney in 2011, and when I apologised to him about it during the World Twenty20 in Colombo last October, he patted me on the shoulder, smiled and said: "Never mind; next time you're around…"

I also regret not finishing the email I started writing to him a couple of weeks before he died. I wanted to choose my words right. I was one of the many who no doubt thought that he would pull through.

The burdens of captaincy
Here's a question: what do you make of a batsman who averages significantly higher while captaining the team? Does it suggest that responsibility brings out the best in him? Or does it imply an innate selfishness? Perhaps both are simplistic assessments. It could just be that in some cases, captaincy coincides with the most profitable phase of a batsman's career, as it did so spectacularly with Graham Gooch, who averaged 58.72 as captain and 35.93 as one of the boys.

A satisfied Michael Clarke after wrapping up the series, Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 3rd day, December 28, 2012
Michael Clarke: easy lies the head - so far, at least © Getty Images

This idle thought came about because of the stunning streak by Michael Clarke, who now stands next only to Don Bradman, with an average of 71.38 as captain (with a cut-off mark of 1500 runs as captain) as against 46.97 while not captaining. This 21-match run includes eight hundreds, three of which were doubles and one a triple. For company, he has Alastair Cook, who averages 90.40 from his six Tests as captain as against 46.36 otherwise.

Of course these are early days yet. The bulk of Clarke's runs have come at home, and Cook's against the relatively weak bowling attacks of Bangladesh and India, and as their captaincies progress these numbers are bound to normalise. But clearly neither has allowed the captaincy to weigh him down. In Clarke's case, he has virtually carried Australia's batting.

A dig into Statsguru revealed no clear patterns, but on the whole, the Australians seemed to have the smallest fluctuations. There are virtually no variations in the averages as captain and as a regular player for Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, Greg Chappell and Allan Border. Bradman averaged about three runs more as captain: for him, it was a minor fluctuation. Only Mark Taylor had a significant dip as captain, averaging 39.46, against 46.97 as a just a player.

A look at the recent history of Indian captaincy reveals a trend. Of the last five captains, three were pure batsmen, and they all had clear dips in form while they led the side. Tendulkar averaged 51.35 as captain and 54.80 as player, Sourav Ganguly managed 37.66 against 45.15, and Rahul Dravid had the biggest fall, averaging only 44.51. Ganguly was fond of saying that the biggest inevitability of leading India in cricket was the premature greying of hair. The numbers perhaps prove what is now universally accepted: captaining India is the toughest job in world cricket. MS Dhoni has the grey hair to prove it, but somehow his Test average (41.71 v 33.06) has defied the trend. Now does that tell you anything?

Hail Amla
One day Hashim Amla will win an ICC award and I hope to be there.

I have been at two award functions that Amla had flown across continents to be at and clap politely as other contenders walked away with the trophy.

Last year I found myself sitting at the table next to the South African players at the ICC Awards in Colombo. While everyone was looking at the stage while the batting nominations were being announced, I found myself drawn to watching Amla.

His team-mates looked nervous and expectant, some tapping their fingers, some looking down with their ears cued to the speaker, but Amla, looking professorial and immaculate in his suit, gave nothing away.

The awards were swept by Kumar Sangakkara, who in addition to Player of the Year and Test Batsman of the Year, also won the People's Choice award. While some of his team-mates shook their heads or smiled ironically, Amla clapped for the winner as gently and gracefully as he caresses runs from the crease. The awards were determined by a jury but Amla had reason to feel denied.

True, Sangakkara had scored more Test runs, but he had played more Tests, and awards are meant to be about more than just numbers. Amla's runs came in tougher conditions, and he was consistent against all opponents on three different continents, not failing to average less than 50 in any series. Sangakkara scored the bulk of his runs at home, and averaged 8.75 against England and 30 against South Africa.

But then no one could explain properly why Saeed Ajmal, whose record was excellent in all three forms of the game, wasn't even nominated. And how on earth did Kumar Dharmasena, who perhaps had more decisions overturned by his colleagues in the box than anyone I can remember, end up as Umpire of the Year?

Since these things are meant to be a bit of fun anyway, indulge me while I pick my batsman of calendar year 2012. Clarke scored a monstrous number of runs, Kevin Pietersen made three match-turning stunners, and Sangakkara top-scored in ODIs. But Clarke scored his big runs at home and failed in his only away series, in the West Indies; Pietersen had six failures against Pakistan in the Middle East; and Sangakkara had a patchy Test record away from the subcontinent.

Since judging is a matter of personal discretion, and because Amla scored his runs around the world - his one poor series (if you can call it that, since it involved only one Test) in 2012 came at home in his only innings against Sri Lanka - and because he was sensational in whatever one-day cricket he played, and because he was such a sight while scoring all those runs, he gets my vote.

Read part one here

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by alarky on (January 5, 2013, 22:31 GMT)

Cont'd: Sambit, I am blaming people like Sachin and his advisors for the chaos existing in the Indian team now; because, we saw how the Indian youths without Tendulkar, under the leadership of Dhoni took revenge on the English men who demolished Tendulkar and Co. in England in 2011. After that rather confident and impressive display by those youths against the Englishmen, the selectors shold never have returned to the old guard who had disgracaed their country so badly in England; much more to take them to Australia - India cricket is paying for their selectors folly now! On what grounds can the Indian selectors be contemplating still picking Tendulkar to represent India in any type of international cricket encounter? So when they pick him, don't they think the rest of the world would always criticise? How many players in India right now would not be dropped after playing three matches with just a paltry average of 30 - much more to 78 matches?

Posted by realtycheck on (January 5, 2013, 22:10 GMT)

Don't compare Roger Federer & Muhammad Ali with Sachin Tendulkar. Those are individual sports and they are not blocking other talent to come forward. In Sachin's case, he needs to move on so someone else can gets a chance to play. He has accumulate enough wealth and fame and simply needs to go. One is only as good as the last game they played.

Posted by alarky on (January 5, 2013, 22:08 GMT)

It's not true that Sachin's critics hate him or are jealous of him. Why should lowly mortals like us be jealous or hateful of the great man? When we criticise, we intend for our remarks to be directed at him and those who aid and abett him, whereby he is spoilt. My usual criticism is about the blatant double standards and favouritism from which he has benefitted over the years, as against zero tolerance for modern youths who've shown that they might even be better than him when he was young, but not given an equal chance to prove. Eg. Rohit Sharma: The first time the world saw this little fellow in Australia in 2007/08, there was talk that India had young talent beyond Tendulkar. But Rohit has been shabbily treated and robbed in his cricket cradle - he's not to blame for his lack of confidence now. After 78 ODIs Sachin averaged 30, without a single 100. Rohit at a similare time in his career averages 31 with two 100s; but has no sure place in the team - because Sachin stayed too long!

Posted by Nampally on (January 5, 2013, 16:53 GMT)

Sambit, I like the sub heading "Hail Amla". Amla has his own style of play & always gives hope to the bowlers that he might get out till he passes century & then the double. He is not flashy or terribly stylish but he gets the job done. He is the most consistent of the present day batsmen & will certainly win ICC awards. I like to group Amla, Cook, Clarke & Pujara of India in the same category for consistency & patience to compile huge scores. These guys will be fighting for the top batting honours in 2013 as each of them has the qualities to be outstanding on their own rights. On last year's batting both Amla & Clarke were in line to challenge Sangakara for the batting title. Perhaps Sanga won by a hair due to his few couple of years in Cricket. I think Pujara being the youngest will dominate batting along with Cook for at least the next 5 years. Amla may have peaked & will be fighting to remain on top. KP has already peaked & is on the way down. So I will rule out KP for future title

Posted by   on (January 5, 2013, 16:24 GMT)

Whenever a senior player fails in one series, the media goes around town drumming it up and asking "is it time to make way for youth". Now the same media asks what right do we ticket-paying, player-endorsed-product-buying public have to question a player's retirement time.

Posted by Sulaimaan91 on (January 5, 2013, 15:43 GMT)

Surprised at the complete lack of knowledge shown by Sambit, yes Kumar Dharmasena wasnt the best umpire during the Eng-Ind series but that is no reason as to why he shouldnt win the best umpire award which was chosen on a completely different 'TIME PERIOD'.And during that time period Kumar had a '98%' correct decisions, the highest among all Elite umpires.So better put a little bit more insight into your writings next time and know that cricket is a lot more than just India.

If you meant the Test Cricketer of the year, then its arguable that Amla deserved it but for the Cricketer of the year, Sanga certainly deserved it because of the sheer amount of cricket he played across all '3 FORMATS' and for being consistent in them as well.Cricket includes Tests/ODIs/T20s and Sanga was successful in all three and played a hell of a lot more cricket than any other contender and to be successful for such long periods across all 3 formats makes him a really special player.

Posted by   on (January 5, 2013, 11:55 GMT)

Check Imran's performance graph as a barsman, bowler and captain after he assumed responsibility of leading his country. He totally eclipses all other all rounders including Sobers, Kallis, Botham and Kapil Dev in this respect. Hadlee and Keith Miller were never considered for captaincy.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (January 5, 2013, 9:12 GMT)

Hi Sambit, the paragraph on Hashim Amla is spot on... He has been the premier batsman in world cricket and the most important cog in South Africa's rise to No.1 in Tests. And to me personally after Brian Lara, he is the batsman I would pay to watch in any form of cricket !

Posted by   on (January 5, 2013, 8:06 GMT)

Perfect. In a team sports, a Legend owes it to other member players of the team who have played their role along with him/her. For individual achievements, can they be denied of their contribution? It is also understood that the individual player's passion for the game is so great that he/she finds it difficult to call it a day. Without such a passion they would not have achieved what has been done. But, exit with dignity would only enhance their demonstration of Love for the game. Well done Sambit Bal.

Posted by ThirdSlip on (January 5, 2013, 7:51 GMT)

Sambit - thanks for a thoughtful article. Since your first segment on retirement of the greats posits a certain POV, here are some thoughts. There are two separate parts interwoven into that question: when should a great player leave? Firstly, when should a player retire and secondly when should he make the team? The first, your essay addresses aptly. This is an agonizing personal decision. Leaving behind the game, the only constant in your life, the only trade one has known has to be a decision that causes much anguish and turmoil. The second is a clinical decision to be made by the committee of selectors in the best interests of the game. The best XII (suited to the conditions) ought to be selected and suited up to represent the club or nation. And here is my contrarian view on Tendulkar's retirement (from tests). For his own sake, Sachin should retire. He has fallen from the high standards he has set himself. For the country's sake though, India should continue with him because

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (January 5, 2013, 3:40 GMT)

Excellent article from an excellent writer. Sambit, I agree that one should not hold a grudge against a sportsman if they want to hold something they love for a bit longer. However, Sachin Tendulkar( Tendulya's) case is a different.His fans deserved a fairytale ending! At the same time, it is an utter shame that ODI cricket's longest serving batsmen quietly disappred. You quote Fedderer and Ali's example but they are/were winning in that age. SRT has become a walking wicket. A sportsman's legacy becomes his biggest enemy if he hangs on for too long. However, in my opinion real culprit has been Indian selectors. They treated Tendulya as someone bigger than the game itself. How many young batsmen lost their careers in last two years because Tendulya was picking and chosing matches? Damage done to Indian cricket is obvious! Sachin Tendulkar has always been a fine actor who has saved himself to not play against best bowlers of his era but sadly on this occasion Tendulya is fully exposed!

Posted by   on (January 5, 2013, 3:23 GMT)

@cricket-india - maybe you wanted SRT to leave. But you are not the paying public's representative. Neither am I. Maybe in your mind SRT doesnt deserve a place in the ODI squad. Maybe I think that players like Gambhir should go out first. Then again, neither of us are the selectors, no? Several fans like to live their fantasies through their favorite player. However, the player doesnt need to be saddled with these fantasies or expectations. If SRT as an individual player asks the selector "why did you drop me", the selector needs to be able to answer/justify that properly. It is as simple as that. If he doesnt want to retire, that is his call as an individual player. If the selectors want to play or drop him, it is their call. In any case, what you or I or Sambit Bal thinks is of academic interest.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 23:40 GMT)

Sambit your logic is absurd!... What gives the right for SRT to pick and choose the games he plays. If every match and series is played on present form and scores, where is the logic for SRT to continue to be in team for international series... with this logic SRT has to be dropped and have him prove himself again in domestic circuit that he is worthy for international matches!!.

Posted by Nampally on (January 4, 2013, 22:12 GMT)

No body is immortal whether cricketers or Einstien. Taxes, Retirement & Death are only sure things in life. So it is best to accept your retirement gracefully. If the Selectors are doing their job properly, they will tell an individual player when his time to retire is imminent. It is expected of Legends to announce their retirement whilst they are still on top rather than being told by the Selectors. In this respect Tendulkar failed - playing well past his "Best Before" date. Tendulkar got lot of fanfare & limelight whilst he was still 16 years old. He should retired timely so that another youngster got similar fanfare to his. Dravid & Laxman both retired timely & gracefully. Some artists die on job. Delayed retirement occurs in all professions due to NO pre-planning. A Retiree does not know what to do with his life - because his life was totally dedicated to his profession - Doctor, Engineer, sportsman, etc. BCCI should help all aging Cricketer via a Retirement pre-planning program.

Posted by cricket-india on (January 4, 2013, 21:17 GMT)

@ozwally, as i said in the same post you refer to, none of this would have mattered if SRT were a boxer. mohd ali did fight at the age of 39 but it was just him. his country did not lose olympic medals or tournaments because he kept a better boxer out of his team. whatever he won or lost was his and his alone. not so with a cricket team; you need the best XI to take the field. and no one - repeat no one - has the right to undeservedly occupy a spot at the highest level.

Posted by cricket-india on (January 4, 2013, 21:08 GMT)

@oz wally: agree with you about the selectors; see my response to david wesley also. however i stick to my statement on what gives us the right. the player is not the authority to decide when (if) he should go. just like a non performing politician cannot be tolerated in a position of authority, a non performing player cannot be accommodated in a team. and if the politician refuses to leave despite not performing, we throw him out, right? sure in SRT's case there's his legacy, his contributions, etc to be considered and truly respected. but sentiments can't impede our move forward - practicality has to take over. SRT's case is of the player becoming bigger than the game. i agre this is not what SRT wanted at any time, including now. but the reality is that he's become undroppable for this reason. SRT needs to realise the game makes the player and not the other way round. his positive attitude may have gotten him this far, like david wesley said, but it's now come to the point of denial

Posted by WAKE_UP_CALL on (January 4, 2013, 20:31 GMT)

J.d salinger in "catcher in the rye" said that "People always clap for the wrong things".and thats what they did when sanga stood their with those gifted trophies.i am an indian and not a fanatic fan like other nation i personally believe that not to include ajmal even for nominations was a shocker and since a batsman got the award the jury turned a blind eye on amla who played a major contribution to make south africa the no. 1 team against a top team team like england in their own backyard was itself a story to be remembered.amla was outstanding in alien conditions whereas sanga was just average(dont want to talk about clarkes efforts which will humiliate more the awards ceremony).however ajmal and almla can feel proud of the fact that honest cricket fans around the world believe they are the true winners which is more satisfying since they play to cricket loving audience.

Posted by cricket-india on (January 4, 2013, 19:57 GMT)

@David Wesley:agree with most of what you said. it's the selectors' job to pick the best XI and if they don't have what it takes, shame on them. no point belaboring SRT is not going. if SRT is dropped and still thinks he's good enough, he'll play ranji to get the selectors' attention and back into the team, just like any other player. so you're right, the selectors (and not just the current ones) are culpable here. not to absolve SRT totally, though, for he still should know he should've called time by now. is it really worth it for one who stood up to mcgrath, warne, akram, waqar, akhtar, pollock, donald, steyn and murali in their pomp - to be dominated by the siddles and panesars of today? will that elevate his stature in the eyes of posterity? kapil hobbled to 434 wkts; we remember him for his hobble as much as for his 434. why should SRT repeat the mistake? a 50 here and a 50 there mean nothing;even vvs got a 66 on his last tour in oz but he's remembered for his epic failure there.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 19:52 GMT)

Rahul Dravid is the # 1 or #2 Indian captain on success rates on overseas soil. His dip in avg. as skipper yet is at 44+. So why the diff. calc. in stats. An avg. of 44+ is better on the diff. scale wen compared 2 an avg. of 37+ as skipper of India. So much for Dada. This same Dravid has probably a close 2 100 avg. in the 21 tests Dada won as skipper. Anil also took close to 160 wickets.

Posted by OzWally on (January 4, 2013, 19:44 GMT)

@cricket-india - re: what gives us the right? I agree with Sambit that it should be the players call when he retires. However, it is also the responsibility of the selectors to pick the best XI, if they are not doing that by not telling SRT it is time to go, then that is where your angst should be directed.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 18:27 GMT)

Just like Dravid and VVS felt they should go, Sachin too will feel. And if it seems too late for others, there is a selection panel whose job is select and drop people from the team. Sachin is just a player. nothing more nothing less. And it's a sport. it's transparent. nothing can be done in closed doors. Everybody knows he isn't performing. But him retiring or not cannot be at our whims and fancies. He may still think that he can contribute in the next match. That's why he was so successful for so many years, by being positive. So if today everyone is questioning his attitude in staying, they should question themselves as to why they enjoyed his heroics all these years. If you guys don't want tendulkar anymore in team, go bang on the selectors' doors. Don't belabour his ears, which are anyway covered by headphones focusing on the next game!

Posted by Usmananwar32 on (January 4, 2013, 18:24 GMT)

one word for article, beauty. one word for Bal, prolific.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 18:20 GMT)

The very idea that some people (either fans or critics) 'want' a player to retire seems totally absurd. If he isn't playing well, let the selectors drop him. If they don't have the guts, there's no point blaming the player. The truth is Sachin isn't playing well. That's how much certain we know about him now. Whether he comes back to form or not is not the question too. if there is another player who can contribute better than him, then the selectors make use of that player. It is such a simple matter to solve. We won't gain by questioning Sachin here. It is an extremely specious and motivated argument to say that he is holding on to his position? Nobody can do that.If dropped he has to leave the team. Why won't anyone understand this simple equation. If the selectors don't drop him, he is going to think he is still good enough and will try his best contribute till he comes to believe otherwise.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 18:03 GMT)

Hashim Amla will be the next Tendulkar: consistent, reliable and dependable over long periods of time.

Posted by likeintcricket on (January 4, 2013, 17:57 GMT)

After such a long time I have seen a true article. He is spot on any of his comment. If Amla, Saeed Ajmal and Aleem Dar missed out on the Awards than this is just a joke. Sanga Kara is not even in top five and Dharmasena is just a joke. Micheal Clarke and Cook are also top class performers and should be given recognition but Amla is more consistant. But who could argue about Saeed Ajmal.

Posted by CricLook on (January 4, 2013, 17:49 GMT)

Nice article... I m totally agreed with your view on ICC award.. Can't understand how quality and versatility suffers against just to numbers. Anyway well written, deserve accolade.

Posted by McGorium on (January 4, 2013, 17:17 GMT)

The hullabaloo over Sachin's retirement isn't because we don't wish to watch a great man struggle. It's because his struggle makes him a massive liability in the team. It's because he's taking up space that could be used to groom a youngster (like Rahane). Would Rahane do better than Sachin? Maybe, maybe not. But Rahane has a future, SRT does not. SRT took a few years before he made runs consistently too. So shall it be for Rahane. Yet again, another Indian commentator takes the individual view (what would SRT want, vs the public), as opposed to the team view (what's in India's best interest)? Another team wouldn't have stood for such nostalgia, but I guess with all the sponsorship money riding on the little man, it's hard to let him go ($$$$$)

Posted by zoot on (January 4, 2013, 17:17 GMT)

It's very simple. You retire when you are no longer contributing enough runs or wickets as you are letting your side and the supporters down. It is wrong to hang because of goodwill or reputation.

Posted by RandyOZ on (January 4, 2013, 16:54 GMT)

Strauss was one of the worst captains we have seen. England fans must all be glad to see the back of him, and to finally have an English captain for once.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 16:19 GMT)

Let India weep @DRS, She will suffer the most for not accepting it.

Posted by bad_boy on (January 4, 2013, 15:56 GMT)

Excellent Article... Very well written...

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 15:42 GMT)

A wel thought out report on Tony's witty comments and his kind mannerisms. And of course on Clalrke and ICC Awards. Generally Australians as captains fare well in cricketing arena and it seems they relish the job. And it's no wonder that Michael Clarke did it well sofar. I am really appalled at the treatment given to some deserving cricketers in the case of Amla & Saeed Ajmal. Both are deserving cricketers. Let's hope at least in future they make good judgments in giving ICC Awards.

Posted by perl57 on (January 4, 2013, 15:33 GMT)

Good article Sambit. You did not harp on garbage topics such as DRS which is has given more howlers than present India-pak series ones. I have been asking the same question myself and to others. Would we retire just because world wants us to? For sure Sachin has preponed his retirement from ODIs but I am glad he did it. In tests, I feel Oz series to be his last. We Indians are so crazy that in a year, we would want Dhoni to retire not Viru. Most of us need diapers to stand to bowlers like Akhtar and Lee, and we ask people like Sachin to retire who made the other two wear diapers.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 15:31 GMT)

Sambit Bal says that Sangakkara scored the bulk of his runs at home, and averaged 8.75 against England and 30 against South Africa.

Its easy to hide behind statistics but Sanga played only 3 matches (6 inns, 1 n/o, Ave 44.2) outside the subcontinent. His scores were 35, 34 against SA, 4, 63, 58, 27* against Aus, which is not too bad. Also the period considered for the awards is not a calendar year so we can take the Durban century & 516 runs he scored against Saeed Ajmal (whose record was excellent in all three forms of the game) & his fellow pakistanis in to account as well. Im not saying Amla wasnt good. Just that Sanga deserved his awards....

Posted by RockcityGuy on (January 4, 2013, 15:26 GMT)

No mention at all about Kohli and the greatest 10 match streak in one day history????:-)

Posted by vladtepes on (January 4, 2013, 15:02 GMT)

"Amla's runs came in tougher conditions, and he was consistent against all opponents on three different continents, not failing to average less than 50 in any series."

think carefully now: was this sentence meant to be a compliment?

lovely article though.

Posted by cricket-india on (January 4, 2013, 14:41 GMT)

there's nothing to choose between VVS and SRT in the last few tests they both played. Both were similar failures. VVS paid the price for being a soft target; no crores riding on him thro' sponsorship deals, and vicious hounds like manjrekar attacking him - in queen's English, of course. But despite the magnitude of SRT's failures and the white elephant that he's now become, the most any writer is willing to say (in public or on cricinfo, atleast) is that SRT needs to 'evaluate his future;' or whatever. make no mistake, SRT deserves our love and gratitude like no other. But remember, India were terrible in the 90s when SRT alone performed. Then came vvs, dravid, ganguly, kumble, zak, bhajji, viru, etc. We became much better and rose to the top. Now that all are gone and only SRT remains, we're back to being disasters. So how fair is it to say SRT deserves more credit for India's successes than the others mentioned? What gives SRT the right to hold Indian cricket to ransom this way?

Posted by Nutcutlet on (January 4, 2013, 13:57 GMT)

The manner in which a major player leaves the game that has brought him sporting fame & fortune tells us much about the man. Some are clear-sighted, unfussed & swift: Michael Hussey; others occur as an honest recognition of the career having come to a suitable resting point, the job done well: Andrew Strauss; some come about through selectors at last showing a player who is well past his sell-by the way to the door: Zaheer Khan. Then there's Tendulkar! Frankly, the manner in which his departure from TC is being managed is far past the point of embarrassment. It is, IMO, incontrovertible evidence of the dysfunctional manner in which cricket is being run in India.There is, of course, the old mantra about form being temporary & class being permanent. To this, I suggest we add: even class fades if you allow it time. And what do we learn about the man? He seems not to be in control of his own destiny, wanting to play on, yet unaware of how late it's getting. Time for someone to tell him...

Posted by HawK89 on (January 4, 2013, 12:26 GMT)

Great article, very accurate to what I think as well.

Posted by AHFAD on (January 4, 2013, 12:09 GMT)

Excellent article.

It may be possible to award Sanga instead of Amla But atleast Amla got nominated.

But the biggest upset was not even nominating the best spinner in the world i.e. Saeed Ajmal.

Posted by Smithie on (January 4, 2013, 11:54 GMT)

In a review of the year how can you realistically not address the issue of DRS? We continued to see a series of umpiring howlers in the India/Pak series which do serious discredit to the game. Why are you not expressing an opinion and why are you not shinning a torch on the BCCI and its attempts to stifle debate on the issue. Why has the enquiring journalist in you retreated? Is Srinivasan a mate of yours ?

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 10:08 GMT)

Wonderful summary. Also very balanced conclusions. Good work Sambit...

Posted by vivek3 on (January 4, 2013, 9:40 GMT)

Superb article...n very true abt Amla. He is just a run machine....he deserves mre than anyone this year.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 9:35 GMT)

true that. i see biased decisions. and most disappointed with Amla's non winning reward, and Ajmal's exclusion in the top!

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 9:29 GMT)

Sambit @You have written the words of My Heart.....This is how i exactly think about all the topics you discussed..

Posted by Vabzinator on (January 4, 2013, 9:18 GMT)

Very interesting and remarkable how Clarke and Cook have managed to perform so high. And along with them the team and its players have supported their efforts greatly. The English and Australia batsmen have performed well while the Bowlers have been outstanding. Same goes for South Africa and Pakistan.

The success of the four teams mentioned above has only come due to their fighting teamwork as a whole. Player(s) (Batsmen or Bowler) stands out for the team and the team fights together for a win.

Saying all this look at India. Dhoni is the only player who actually is performing. Apart from him no one else even seems to their best whether is batting or bowling. With all the experience and talent in the batting there is no consistent good result.

Sehwag and Gambhir as experienced as they might be have not looked to give India a chance. Rahane and other players have earned a living out of sitting on the bench .

Posted by brokeNCYDE on (January 4, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

Pakistan came, saw and conquered

Posted by ramli on (January 4, 2013, 8:36 GMT)

SRT should have retired by 2011 ... not just to have a perfect image of his success story .. but simply on the basis of his policy of skipping ODIs at will ... that only meant he was not serious enough to play this format ... this hampered the composition of the team ... and therefore the mixed results ... and all the more ... India was winning despite SRT in this format ...

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 8:22 GMT)

In Tendulkar's case, yes, as fans, we cannot expect him to do what we so wanted for him - have a fairytale ending at the end of the victorious WC 2011. It is no secret that he loves to play Cricket. But recently it was getting to the point that his silence was starting to affect the planning that a team would like to start on for preparing for a World Cup. In all probability, he was not going to play. In that case, was he not stalling the progress that a team would like to make in terms of preparation? His silence meant that the selectors were left in the dark about his plans and we all know that no selector has the guts to just ignore/drop him. That India show no semblance of starting to prepare is a different issue altogether.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 6:50 GMT)

Gr8 tribuite to my all time favourite Tony Grieg....and a gr8 article!!!

Posted by   on (January 4, 2013, 6:23 GMT)

True story with right facts. I also vote for the same person that is "Hashim Amla" :)

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Sambit Bal Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.

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