An open letter from Sachin Tendulkar
Disclaimer: The following article is a work of fiction by the author and is not intended to hurt anyone’s feelings.
I am saddened as I write this letter. I know I have disappointed you with the series loss against England and my performance isn’t what you have always expected of me. I have always given my best for the team, but the results are not in my favour this time around. People are clamouring for my retirement and I can’t agree more with them. I have not been living up to the standards that I have set for myself through the years and I am indeed answerable to the fans.
I apologize to you for my dismal performances, and for failing you time and again. It is a general misconception among people that I have grown complacent and taking things for granted. But I can assure you that I am the same person who made his debut at the age of 16 as an excited teenager. I have been following my routine right from the day I made my debut till today. Nothing has changed, neither the preparation nor the mind-set. Maybe age is finally catching up to me, something I have been trying to fight for the major part of the last five years. I have been training harder to keep myself fit and strong in order to be able to give my best.
Cricket has been my calling right from a young age. I still remember the day me and Vinod were playing together in a Harris-Shield trophy match, where we put up a 600 run partnership. The immense enjoyment of being on the field all day long with my best friend was all I could dream about for the next few days. That was the day I decided to play cricket for the rest of my life, for I loved it more than anything; food, chocolates, bicycles- things that a fourteen year old could long for.
Years have passed after that and things are not the same anymore. I have matured both as a person and as a player. But the hunger still remains the same. I still want to do well and give my best whenever I walk on the field; something that has been my mantra all through the years. I have achieved so much in cricket- the fame, the money and the compliments came to me on their own. I am proud of my records when I look back at them today. The only thing I almost missed out on was the World Cup; I got there too in the end, with a team as determined as I was, who strove along with me to achieve the glory that I was unable to attain for almost 22 years.
But the real struggle was after the World Cup, when I had to suffer through another lean patch, which I am going through even now. People wanted me to go now that I have gotten my wishes fulfilled. They said it was the right time for me to retire, since my dream has been achieved. But I felt I can contribute more to the cause of the Indian team. The team needs some good youngsters to fill the places of seniors when we retire, and someone should be there to guide them, or so we felt. It might be a wrong decision but it was for the greater good. Perhaps we realized our mistake when we heard “the seniors are selfish to block the place of talented youngsters!”
Our only thoughts were about setting the team up for the youngsters and getting the tough tours to England and Australia out of the way, so that the youngsters can have a smoother path into the test team. But we did not consider our own problems, which were the roots of our own destruction.
It was a tough time for us after Australia, losing both VVS and Rahul. It brought me back down to earth, and I started contemplating retirement. But I had some solace after the century against Bangladesh, though we were unlucky to lose the match. Two series later, we were facing the same predicament against England at home and it was humiliating to lose the series. It was a nightmare for us, having had to endure the cricket crazy fans’ reaction. People started talking about my retirement again, claiming that I was selfish and I had to go sooner rather than later. They even said I am choosing my matches for the fear of facing quality opponents. It isn’t true, of course. I am an old man who wants to spend some quality time with my kids. They should know me enough to call me father and I do not want to miss their growing up years. Therefore, I take some time off between series to be with them.
I have to admit that I am a bit selfish, for I have been playing the game for the better part of my life. I have not known anything other than cricket. Every day I wake up to take up a bat and I sleep after arranging my kit bags. It has been a penance for the last 25 years and it would be hard for me to just give up everything. Retirement would be equal to death for me, as I have lived cricket all my life. Frankly, I do not know what to do with myself once I retire. Will I be able to secure a job as a TV commentator, a trend that has been catching up with some former players, or would I be a successful coach? Nothing pleases me like playing cricket and I am not sure whether I am made for other things in life. I have watched many players retiring, but I never had to think about how they would have felt while retiring. It was an irrelevant thought a few years back, but now I know how exactly each of them would have felt.
I know it’s time for me to go, but as a fellow Indian, I ask this of you dear fans; I am not able to let go of cricket after all these years, and even talking about it makes me feel worse. I just need some time to sort my life out, to decide on what to do with myself once I retire. I am not here for the fame or for the records but for the passion that I had and I have for this game right from the day I picked up a bat. I am making up my mind and I need a little more time to announce my retirement. It is a humble request from a dedicated servant of cricket and I would feel happy if you oblige me.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar