Sachin Tendulkar is well within his right to carry on as long as he wants to
By Vincent Sunder
As a sportsperson and as an individual, Tendulkar has the right to choose and decide when he will give up the game. He could be playing the game for the love of it, or he could maintain that he needs to earn a living from the money the game offers him presently - directly or indirectly. The reasons can be whatever.
By Vincent Sunder
There are strident voices in the media for and against the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar. And one does not see that abating. Depending on how he fares in the England series, either the pro-retirement group or the other faction will get louder. The debate will not die. Until the man himself makes an announcement or the selectors make a change – though the latter possibility seems quite remote.
Should Tendulkar retire? Has age finally caught up with him? The unfortunate aspect of this debate is that a majority of these voices are directed at the individual, which is completely unfair. As a sportsperson and as an individual, Tendulkar has the right to choose and decide when he will give up the game. He could be playing the game for the love of it, or he could maintain that he needs to earn a living from the money the game offers him presently - directly or indirectly. The reasons can be whatever.
The statement that Tendulkar continues to play because of his deep love for the game can be debated, given the fact that he prefers to pick and choose his matches. That he opts to play for a franchise whilst not wishing to represent the country in the same format of the game can be debated. It can be argued that if his decision is based on giving the younger players opportunities, the same argument can be applied to Test matches as well. The well-voiced reluctance of Tendulkar to play in domestic games has been aired many a times during telecasts of international games. It is quite unlikely that Tendulkar will either play a local game in Mumbai or represent them in a non-Ranji game. The debate can only end if Tendulkar declares that he loves playing selective international cricket. Period.
Coming to the debate that its money keeps which him in the game and away from retirement: How much money one needs is an individual’s prerogative and no third person can ever have a right of opinion on that count.
Should Tendulkar retire in the long term interest of Indian cricket? Well, the responsibility of the future of Indian cricket should be the responsibility of those with the mandate for managing the game in the country. One cannot blame a player for preventing opportunities for a younger player. A Rahul Dravid or a VVS Laxman may have had differing views, but that in no way means Tendulkar should also adopt a similar line of thinking. He has got the right to have mind of his own.
If anything, the sole responsibility of the future of Indian cricket has to rest primarily with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and, at a lower level, with the national selection committee. If any brickbats are directed seeking why there has not been a change, it has to be at the doors of the 'directors’ and not at the 'artiste’ for he has not put a gun to their head and demanded selection.
Whilst rash and brash views can easily expressed by all and sundry who have access to a computer, an internet connection and have the ability to type, the fact remains fans too have a right to their freedom of opinion. In this regard, Ramachandra Guha's criticism of voices opposed to Tendulkar comes as a shock. One of the leading historians of the country, Guha wrote in a leading website: "For what Sachin Tendulkar has given me over the years, I remain deeply, profoundly, grateful - and so should those foolish and fickle-minded cynics in the pavilion of the Chinnaswamy Stadium."
There is a mention in Guha’s article of a fan behind him saying, "Time to think of retirement" after Tendulkar got out in the first innings. Tendulkar’s second failure in the Bangalore Test apparently elicited louder murmurings from disappointed fans.
Guha’s outburst in his article is very surprising as he is someone who has always maintained a calm demeanor and expresses his views in a balanced manner.
If Mr. Guha were to go for a meal at a famed restaurant run by a celebrity chef, and experienced the misfortune of being served a bad meal, does the fame of the chef stop him voicing a negative view of the meal consumed? Or, will he be wrong if he were to make a critical comment of a music concert by a famed artiste or group, had the person or group performed badly at a paid concert? Does a person who has purchased a book not have the right to critic it in case he/she doesn’t find the book of value only because the reader does not have the ability to write a book? Or would a dependent child be barred from voicing a critical comment on his/her parents merely for being a dependent?
The reality is that every cricket follower is a patron of the game, and a paying patron at that. Just as a chef or a writer cannot argue that criticism is not justified simply because a person cannot cook or write, the paying cricketing patron has a genuine right to criticise a poor performance as much as a good performance gets applauded. Calling a paying and unsatisfied patron or customer foolish or fickle-mined or cynical – especially when the cynicism is expressed with good reason - simply goes against common sense and logic.
Much as one cannot demand the retirement of Tendulkar, one cannot abuse those calling for that day either!
(Vincent Sunder aspired to play Test cricket, but had to struggle to play 'gully’ cricket! He managed a league side to title triumph in the KSCA tournaments. He was debarred from umpiring in the gully games after he once appealed vociferously for a caught-behind decision when officiating as an umpire! After two decades in the corporate sector, he became an entrepreneur with the objective of being able to see cricket matches on working days as well. Vincent gets his 'high’ from cricket books and cricket videos and discussing cricket)