Millennium Post

Time for a heroic departure?

Getting Sachin Tendulkar to talk about retirement is like hearing the inevitable day of doom from religious scriptures. For many who worship him and cricket in general, it’s going to be a day of reckoning, the judgement day. For on the day Sachin retires, he will forever make cricket a poorer  game to watch, the world will somewhat be less than what it was when he would play. But then that day has to arrive because this will only be a natural decision, a bowing down to the inevitability of time.

Sachin is 39. He is not getting any younger and he has to take a call on his future sooner than later. On Thursday he spoke about it and has let it be known that after November, he will assess his capability and decide on his future. For the legion of his fans, if he at all announces a day of retirement in November, and it is likely to be sooner than later, it will bring to a closure their love affair with one of cricket’s all-time greats, a true sportsman and achiever, a noncontroversial gentleman and an ambassador for sportsmanship anywhere in the world. But then, Sachin is no god of time and may be just a god of cricket.

It is clear that Sachin cannot postpone the inevitable forever. He has to take a call and his recent performances having shown the tell-tale signs of age catching up on him. He has not been in the best of forms, and perhaps the Indian team has outgrown its dependence on Sachin, especially in the shorter forms of the game. A new crop of confident, brash and talented cricketers have emerged who have made Sachin somewhat irrelevant in the team; even if in relative terms. More than anyone else Sachin realises it the most. And he is willing to take a long hard look at his future. That’s a good sign. In tests, Sachin is still imperative to the team but then does anyone really care about test cricket anymore?

Sachin has achieved all one could ever get to achieve in cricket. In fact, his achievements go way beyond cricket. He is a star of sports of any kind and of any country. He is a legend already. It is only natural that he hangs his boots when he is still reckoned in the highest terms. It will be a travesty of the game and his person if he let his late years become a signature of his form or talent. Sachin realises this too. It is no good to advise him on anything because a man of his talents will know when it’s time to go. And one only hopes that he will make a heroic departure, as heroic as his arrival 23 years ago.
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