Sachin Tendulkar for most of his career donned the No.10 jersey in limited-overs cricket © AFP
Sachin Tendulkar for most of his career donned the No.10 jersey in limited-overs cricket © AFP

Poor Shardul Thakur will be spared the next time he steps out in India’s limited-overs uniform. No, he won’t be donning the No. 10 jersey. In fact, nobody else will. BCCI has decided to unofficially retire the No. 10 jersey that was famously donned by Sachin Tendulkar for a major part of his career.

Tendulkar had retired in November 2013. He had last played in national coloured clothes in March 2012, during the Asia Cup. After more than five years, Thakur, another Mumbai cricketer with the same initials, appeared on the ground donning the same jersey number on his debut, against Sri Lanka at Colombo earlier this year.

‘Unnecessary controversy’

Thakur was trolled on social media and was ridiculed with comparisons to Tendulkar. Thakur’s Mumbai teammate Rohit Sharma too made fun of the cricketer on social media, posting Thakur’s image and asking him for his jersey number. To put an end to the controversy, Thakur revealed that he used the number at the advice of a numerologist. His date of birth, October 16, 1991, adds up to 28 and his number comes to 10.

However, Thakur did not use the same number when he returned to the national squad against New Zealand last month. He was wearing No. 54.

The Indian Express quoted a BCCI official as saying, “It unnecessarily creates controversy and players get criticised. So it’s better to retire the number unofficially. Players, though, can wear it when they play for India A or for say a non-international list A match but not during an international.”

Retiring jerseys aren’t a new concept in the world of sport. Examples are LA Lakers (Kareem Abdul Jabbar, 33, and Kobe Bryant, 23), Chicago Bulls (Michael Jordan, 24), Inter Milan (Javier Zanetti, 4), and West Ham United (Bobby Moore, 6).

Shardul Thakur gives up No. 10 jersey of Sachin Tendulkar fame
Shardul Thakur gives up No. 10 jersey of Sachin Tendulkar fame

Just like Shahid Afridi, jerseys have made comebacks too. For example, Argentina had retired No. 10 to honour Diego Maradona, but they reintroduced it only for Lionel Messi. AC Milan had similarly discontinued issuing No. 3 once Paolo Maldini quit, but the jersey is available for Maldini’s sons.

Exactly three years back, on this day, Phillip Hughes ODI jersey number 64 was retired in remembrance. He died on November 27, 2014.

Author’s take

BCCI have to be commended for taking this decision. Let us, for a moment, ignore the immense respect the country has for Tendulkar. No cricketer deserves to go through the unnecessary pressure from internet trolls for a matter such trivial. As long as the fans do not see sense, perhaps retiring the jerseys is the best option to prevent the likes of Thakur being made fun of.

In an ideal scenario, this mark of respect holds little relevance. Tendulkar has his fans and was an exceptional performer, he does stand out. However, retiring a jersey probably also elevates Tendulkar to an unattainable pedestal; that is probably not the ideal message for young cricketers. Sport will continue to create heroes who will successfully slip into shoes of the greats: what if a cricketer surpasses Tendulkar in stature some day and demands for that No. 10 jersey?

MS Dhoni has been one of India’s most impactful cricketers. Will BCCI also retire the No. 7 jersey once he quits?