It could be easier to explain why Sachin Tendulkar is worthy of being the captain of the Indian cricket team than to fathom why he turned down the offer. But turn it down he has. And when he says that he is "not in a position to accept the captaincy of the Indian team for the Tests" we should understand that he knows best. According to the BCCI on Tuesday, Tendulkar wanted the selectors to think of appointing a younger person as the captain for the sake of "the future of the team". While cynics may turn that phrase into "the future of Sachin Tendulkar", it would be wise to consider what the man says for its worth.
Turning down a top job has always been seen as having more to it than meets the eye. When Sonia Gandhi turned down the offer of becoming Prime Minister, it was open season for conspiracy theories. When Marlon Brando turned down the 1972 Best Actor Oscar for his seminal role in Godfather (protesting against the depiction of native Americans in Hollywood films and television), people wondered whether refusing awards would become part of a star's brand-building exercise. But unlike Gandhi and Brando, Tendulkar does have a practical, visible reason for saying, 'Thanks, but no thanks'. He's had a taste of Test captaincy in 1999 and the results weren't good for India — a 0-3 series defeat against Australia in Australia, and more damningly, a 0-2 series defeat against South Africa at home.
A great player doesn't necessarily make a great captain — and vice versa. Perhaps, the BCCI's 'mistake' was to overlook the fact that Tendulkar could say no and behave as if the deal was done. So, not too unlike the India-US nuclear deal, Tendulkar not becoming captain came as an 'unnecessary' shock to many. As for the new Indian Test captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, welcome to the cockpit. Or are we getting ahead of ourselves again?