The Apotheosis That is Tendulkar...
Now the talk in cricket circles is: Should Tendulkar retire, why doesn't he retire, he should retire, he should not. Some former cricketers true to their ingenuous style of talking such as the irrepressible Bishan Singh Bedi have openly said that it is high time that he should hang his boots. Kapil Dev has said something similar, some have pleaded that he should decide what is best for him. Recently Gautam Gambhir pleaded that he should be given space to ask himself this question. Tendulkar of course is calmly continuing with playing tests, and whenever required one day internationals as well. One expected that after his marathon hundredth hundred, he would call it a day. But that was another milestone for him, it was one of those passing events.
The point is that either a player decides on his career, or the selectors, the latter by dropping a player from the team, give him a signal that the end has come. Dropping at the tether of a career, signals its end, but this is an ignominy, so most players retire when they are going strong or fairly so. In India Gavaskar, Dravid and Laxman are good examples, although the irresistible grape vine has it, that the last two were politely asked to do so , to accomodate younger talent. Fair enough, and both of them have taken the hurt they experienced, not only bravely but with a smile. Other players such as a Steve Waugh or a Ponting said goodbye, when they knew that they were not only not over the hill, but in their prime. Similarly was the case with the redoutable Kapil Dev, though Mohinder Amarnath had to face a bit of flak for his ' delay ' in retiring.
Public memory is very short, in India, we not suffer from amnesia, but when we feel that a person cannot do more, we want to rid ourselves of a collective conscious. If records are studied meticulously, then it can be seen that both Dravid and Laxman have played better than Tendulkar over a period of time. But after their retirement we gave them an unostentatious farewell, so quiet, that they too hid behind covers. Both were as consistent as Tendulkar if not more in long phases, especially Dravid. But Tendulkar is the demi god of Indian cricket, and understandably so. For over three decades he has mesmerized the cricketing world into a fantasy of stroke play, unleashing brute will. But he did go through bad patches, and during this period, it were Dravid and Laxman who stole the show, playing not only stellar roles, but displaying a magnetism of bravado. They are forgotten now, forgotten also is the fact that they played against some of the best bowlers of all times, in different forms of cricket.
The question about Tendulkar's retirement has an inevitability about it, but it is also redundant. He will decide; no one else. The selectors cannot him give a hint to him, let alone ' request ' him to do so. That is the apotheosis that is Tendulkar. Whether he deserves it or not, is another question.
So let's not debate on this moot point and spend sleepless nights, or waste precious newspaper space and media time!
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Ananya S Guha
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