Critics of Indian cricket are somehow never satisfied. Even as the Indian cricket team rides the wave of success in the second test against the Kiwis, all that bothers critics is Sachin Tendulkar’s mediocre performance. It didn’t matter that the spinners routed the Kiwi batsmen or that the youngsters that form the backbone of the Indian middle-order presently made the test matches’ party a worthwhile event. No, from start to finish, there’s only one man and only one aspect of his professional life, Indian cricket critics are concerned about – the so-called retirement of Sachin Tendulkar.
A debate that’s been raging on for a few years now, it’s ridiculous to watch certain sects of cricketing community – both experts and fans – trying to dissect and rationalise the viability of Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement. What make these suggestions even more nonsensical are the reasons given to support such rationale. And to think that, a year ago, many people – quite possibly from these sects – were emphasizing on the need and requirement for Sachin to feature in the 2011 World Cup. So what has changed between then and now? The man’s the same, with the same commitment and dedication to the sport. His interest hasn’t waned; he still has the hunger to score runs and more than that – the ability to score them, especially at crunch situations. So why is there an implied requirement for him to prove himself over and over again, in each and every tournament he plays?
Or maybe the reason people require him to prove that he is capable of scoring runs with the same flow that he was able to do a few years ago, is because everyone has termed him to be the ‘God of Cricket.’ As theists, most people expect immediate positive results. Failures are mocked because faith indicates that true belief can only bring about success and never failure. But just as easily want and need don’t have to mean the same thing; it could have very well happened that while people may have proposed, God in his ultimate glory might have disposed of these proposals.
Assigning titles and terminologies to professionals at the peak of their career, isn’t the be-all and end-all of following sportsmen. Just as the sportsmen haven’t asked to be titled thus, they don’t deserve judgemental remarks in case of their inability to deliver master-class performances every time they come out to play. Their uber-elitism doesn’t mean that they are flawless or unbeatable; on the contrary, it’s symbolic of their ability to withstand such harsh comments after doing so much for the country, the sport and for the sport-loving fans for years on together.
Irrespective of the cause – various cricketers retiring from international cricket or the advancement of youngsters in both forms of the game – is it really worth critics’ time to predict a player’s retirement? Today the status of Indian cricket may have stabilised with a pool of players who can pick up the innings from where it has been left hanging abruptly. So maybe a couple of lack of performances seems to be a plausible excuse to veto the player out of active professional life. But a few years ago, would this have been the case? Maybe at that time, it would have been some other cricketer, just as a few years from now, some youngster getting more preference will face the proverbial boot. But no matter the time frame; the past, the present or the future generation, it’s ultimately the player who needs to make the choice – to continue or to give up the sport. And to give up a life-long passion is never an easy or an impulsive one, but one that requires immense mental and emotional fortitude on the part of sportsmen.
If critics are so keen to make choices and predict the future, cultivating patience would be a definite virtue to boast about. Three bowled-out dismissals don’t shatter players’ credibility just as winning two test matches on the Indian soil doesn’t make India a formidable adversary in a test cricket series on foreign shores. If critics can tolerate the latter inadequacy, then the former should be a fairly easy niggle to overlook.