Cricket in India is an industry which brews money. Thanks to the entry of Sachin Tendulkar two decades ago, he has given to the game what no one else has; not only to fans but to the kitty of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
For more than two decades, he helped BCCI’s kitty grow by leaps and bounds. That Tendulkar has done a lot for the game is accepted. But is this contribution to be repaid in terms of treating him as an exception is the question.
He entertained the cricket lovers all over the world and the queue of the sponsors was bigger than ever anywhere in the world when he was around. His mere presence attracted crowds and sponsors in large numbers. We look at cricketers’ wealth but overlook the hands of the BCCI behind it.
Indian cricket management is run by creating infrastructure for all affiliated units, providing them subsidies worth croresevery year for running the game. More than 500 matches are conducted by the BCCI. The development centre like the National Cricket Academy was required. India ‘A’ tours needed funds. For this the BCCI had to market the game aggressively. They were looking for a product and Jagmohan Dalmiya-I. S. Bindra very shrewdly used Tendulkar as a brand.
It was when he found scoring runs difficult for more than a year back, the debate of his retirement was discussed every day. His retirement from ODIs makes everyone wonder if he willingly quit or was asked to opt for an honourable exit. We will never know the truth because the BCCI doesn’t believe in being transparent.
I have watched a 12-year-old Tendulkar. He scored 2,400 runs in a season. Nothing has changed even now and nothing will change even after 40. The boyish grin, the prankster in him, the seriousness in cricket and most importantly the work ethics remain the same.
The million dollar question is what would he do for the rest of his life without the game that he loves. For someone who has been hitting bowlers all over the park since he was a kid, it’s a tough decision to quit the game.
The question that baffles the connoisseurs of the game who have known and watched him is why did he carry on after the World Cup victory? The cricketing world watched him being carried on the shoulders by his team-mates after the World Cup win. What else did he need to be on the top of the world? When he continued playing even after his 100th international ton, the diehard fans reiterated what Vijay Merchant had always said in the 60s “retire when people ask ‘why’ and not ‘why not’”.
There are dozens of former reputed international cricketers residing in Mumbai. They feel ‘Tendulkar got carried away with the euphoria without realising that this game has seen the unceremonious dropping and exit of many top cricketers. He was a great timer of the ball but he ought to have timed his retirement after the World Cup.’
The question is why has he quit only the ODI and not the Tests? Is he still available for the Tests? He has taken one step of realisation by quitting ODIs. But the main step is yet to be taken. Only once he completely retires can Indian cricket move on. It’s not going to be easy for the newcomer to bat at No. 4. He will need time to settle down. As Gursharan Singh of Delhi realised replacing G. R. Vishwanath in 1983 and Vengsarkar in 1990, it wasn’t an easy task.
Tendulkar ruled an era, but it’s time for him to make way for a youngster in the Test team. The transition period too has some methods and we need to adopt those methods without getting sentimental.