There are people who do so much for you that you are obliged to them for life. You can do nothing to repay them, nothing to show how much they mean to you, nothing is enough for what they have done for you. But nevertheless you try; lost in your devotion, you try to show them how valuable they are.
You congratulate them, felicitate them, worship them until one day when you realise that time waits for no one. Though as miraculous and perfect as a person, the magic in him seems to be wearing off. What do you do then? How do you tell this person to go, tell him that times have changed? How do you say goodbye to Sachin Tendulkar?
The burden of being a legend is far greater than one can imagine. When two tools — bat and ball become your slave, the world becomes your slave too. But everything comes to an end and when the legend knows, he quietly quits. Some retire on a high to make an honourable exit. The ones who do not realise the turn of time are unceremoniously dropped.
Tendulkar’s case was always thought as to ‘let him take a call’. Yes, he is a legend. But were other legends given this privilege? Having wooed cricket lovers the world over and having shown the tenacity to come back after a tennis elbow, Tendulkar is assumed to always come back somehow.
But as age advances, reflexes weaken. No legend can defy time but Tendulkar is trying to defy it. He is an enigma. When the media said ‘Endulkar’ he threw three figures at his detractors who vanished. He is capable of doing it again. But will that solve the problem Indian cricket is facing now? It will not.
At Ahmedabad he was beaten in the flight by Graeme Swann but after both the dismissals at the Wankhede Stadium, some former Indian Test cricketers felt they weren’t watching the player who had destroyed the bowlers for over two decades.
They were correct in saying that after having played several times at the Wankhede Stadium, Tendulkar ought to have known that on the red soil, the ball grips on the first morning because of moisture and it is dangerous to play across but he presented the thickness of the blade instead of the width.
Information technology is making huge contributions to strategy management in teams. Plans for individuals are devised and drills implemented. Before the Australians arrived in India in 1997-98, Tendulkar’s intelligence bureau had conveyed to him the plans of Shane Warne (bowling to him around the wicket).
We watched Tendulkar inviting all and sundry who could bowl leg spin at the MIG Cricket Club in Mumbai. He created a rough around the leg stump for him to practise his sweep shot which he did for hours.
When Warne decided to bowl around the wicket in the first Test match at Chennai and landed in the rough, ball soared over mid-wicket or past square leg. He scored 155 and later at Bangalore he hit 177.
Did he do that exercise when he knew turners were being prepared for the series against England? By being inflexible is he not making technical issues more serious?
It’s a fact of life that the more experienced you are in the field, the more obstinate you become and Tendulkar seems to be demonstrating that.
The 100 international hundreds have been scored. We can even wait for the 101st. Maybe it will come too but the question here is ‘Does that ton even matter?’
Is the game greater than the individual or the individual is greater than the game? Sooner than later either the selectors or Tendulkar will have to answer it.