The easiest thing to do is probably indulging in the act of criticism; even more easier if you aren’t exactly associated with the event/proceeding! Sachin Tendulkar has been at the receiving end of such an act over the last couple of months; primarily pushing for his exit from the coloured clothes. There are Tendulkar ‘devotees’ on the other side, who seem to think in only one way, defending their ‘god’ with all the possible arguments which one could think of. In sport or in life most decisions are pretty subjective, with either way being the right way in some cases or the other. When it comes to Tendulkar, we invariably weigh thoughts on the side of emotions. That is natural, that is justified for Sachin Tendulkar is not just another person playing the gentlemen’s game! A generation has grown alongwith Tendulkar’s international career and it is hard to believe that the sun will have to set.
So is it really the time to pull down the curtains on Tendulkar’s career (ODI cricket for now)? That is tough to answer for we aren’t exactly Tendulkar himself or any member of the ODI team. There is one fact though - the Indian ODI outfit has learnt to live without him, a consequence of him not featuring in all series. Since 2010 he has been a part of the ODI team on 22 occasions out of the 69 matches that India has played. His form or the lack of it isn’t the big question for many at the moment (for most Indian batsmen are struggling), but his in-out movement from the side too frequently is. This activity was carried out with the intention of prolonging Tendulkar’s career; initially it worked wonderfully but everything has a shelf life and it looks like this exercise has gone by its expiry date. It isn’t a question of better players than him coming into the squad, but of longevity with which Tendulkar can carry himself in the same vein. Having said that Tendulkar is, undoubtedly, the greatest ODI batsman India has produced and hence doubting his ability (going by current averages) would be farcical.
2nd April 2011 could have been a ‘well-timed’ moment to retire from ODIs, is the ‘common’ sentiment shared by many, especially after the elongated ‘wait’ for the 100th ton is becoming swelling. The anticipated landmark has indeed got to do something with the growing demand for Tendulkar’s exit from ODI cricket. That is the emotional aspect associated with Sachin; he is our soft target when he doesn’t perform to expectations and the hero when he does! Visualize yourself 5-10 years down the line: how would you like remember his last hurrah? There would lie the answer endorsing the ‘common’ view that is being expressed. Tendulkar is a proud cricketer and wouldn’t want linger around underperforming; being pushed to call it quits. The argument that he has earned the right to call his retirement should be a forbidden thought. Many have been searching for Tendulkar’s ‘future plans’, but it should be the selectors and the team management who should have the final say on this activity; his stature in the set-up should at best demand a say in this decision but not influence it.
Tendulkar’s test cricket is surely far from over; has a lot to offer in the white clothes. Tendulkar has always answered criticism with his batting, the hopes are pinned that the growing pressure to perform results into something pleasant. The thought of cricket without Tendulkar is a tough one to believe and accept but like most things this phenomenon will have an end. As somebody who has grown up watching him play, wouldn’t want him to receive a Ponting-like fate. Tendulkar has spend more years playing ‘international’ cricket than otherwise, and obviously it would be a tough decision for him to see himself away from the game. The situation demands a senior, respected individual like Gavaskar to sit down with him and get insights into what he is thinking at the moment, provide thoughts about life after cricket and suggest a way to time the big decision. Tendulkar's outlook has been of a person who is infallible in his trade, as an ardent fan I would like that image to remain undisturbed!