Sachin Tendulkar retires from Test cricket, but is it two years too late?
Sachin Tendulkar’s reluctance to retire can be attributed to the perceived uncertainties of life after cricket. But the best thing about the Master Blaster's announcement, unlike other cricket legends, is that he will bid farewell on the pitch.cricket Updated: Oct 15, 2013 15:38 IST
Considering the long season of retirements we are in, the best thing about Sachin Tendulkar’s announcement is he will bid farewell on the pitch.
Unlike the exits of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman after just farewell media conferences, the occasion of Tendulkar’s record 200th Test will give thousands of his fans — the venue for this West Indies match may not be too significant beyond the BCCI politics around it — the opportunity to watch Indian cricket’s talisman one last time and give him a standing ovation.
There will surely be many moist eyes, the sentiment a tribute to the various roles the batting great has donned over the years.
A curly-haired boy, fresh from making an instant mark in hostile Pakistan, was held back from the next tour to protect him from facing a potent West Indies pace attack on home turf.
Tendulkar soon proved the Board was being overprotective, and steadily climbed from the lower half of the Test batting order to make the No 4 spot his own before perhaps becoming the biggest draw in turning one-day cricket into the money spinner it became.
While Tendulkar’s place in the pantheon of batting greats has been long assured, the value he brought into the team would stand out long after the retirement of a player who ticked all the boxes and owns a set of statistics that is unlikely to go out of fashion.
But beyond the runs he has made, and the manner in which he set the agenda for innings, Tendulkar was not a reclusive genius that Brian Lara became in a crumbling West Indies side.
At his prime, which lasted a cool decade and a half, he never shied away from toiling even when the team appeared to be going under.
In a side where the likes of Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly were still settling down, if the pressure of expectations was unbearable, Tendulkar learned to internalise it.
If he felt some of his team mates won praise a bit too easily because he was always expected to do much more, there was no emotion or public comment to draw conclusions from.
For sheer effort, class, determination and Tendulkar’s sense of occasion, the 136 against Pakistan in the Chennai Test in 1999 will stand up there. He almost carried India to victory, but for back spasms — Tendulkar’s first major injury and caused by the wear and tear of constant playing — that led to his dismissal and a lower order collapse.
He was the one the nation looked up to when the match-fixing scandal broke in 2000.
In the end, one just got the feeling that by staying on, he was no longer the master of his game.
But Tendulkar’s reluctance to walk away after the 2011 World Cup high could perhaps be attributed to perceived uncertainties after cricket, having remained in a cocoon since he was a 16-year-old, first insulated from distractions by senior teammates and then having to keep his sanity in the wake of the prolonged Tendulkar mania.
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