At 50, will the god of cricket still remain inaccessible?
It’s a milestone birthday after all, though not exactly a retirement that would beget an appraisal of the man who strode the game like a colossus for 24 years
Who writes the script for Sachin Tendulkar? Seeing the euphoria that has been unleashed on the occasion of the God of Cricket’s 50th birthday on April 24 – before and after – one cannot help but feel that it could not have been written better.
It’s a milestone birthday after all, though not exactly a retirement that would beget an appraisal of the man who strode the game like a colossus for 24 years – ending up with more runs across the formats than anyone else and managing to stay surprisingly controversy-free. This has, in turn, earned him the freedom of choice as to when he would make an entry or exit from the spotlight.
Take the retirement from international cricket, for example. Looking back, one can recall the hushed whispers if the time was ripe for the Little Master to exit for a while till the announcement finally came in 2013. Much like his half-century in life, or the agonising wait for his 100th international century, the retirement was a perfectly executed public relations exercise over a month – which led to a climax on that November afternoon on his home turf at the Wankhede Stadium.
The god-gifted talent and legendary ability to stay focused on the game has certainly helped him to overcome the ups and downs on the field, while one wonders if there is a not-so-subtle machinery at work to keep him relevant on such occasions as the 50th birthday landmark.
The 50th birthday is very much a case in point. Close on the heels of the opening of the Brian Lara – Sachin Tendulkar gates at the Sydney Cricket Ground on April 24 – came the news of Sharjah Cricket Stadium naming it’s western stand after the master.
If the biggest hallmark of Tendulkar’s journey had been his universal acceptance, these two venues had been two of his favourites in views of his batting exploits. The SCG had him scoring three centuries in five Tests that he has played there (785 runs in all) and an average of 157. The desert venue, on the other hand, celebrated the 25th anniversary of his Desert Storm in 1998 – the two back-to-back centuries against Australia.
Not surprisingly though, a sizeable number of members of the cricket community in the UAE feel that a number of legends of the sport – namely Sunil Gavaskar, Imran Khan and the irrepressible Javed Miandad tought to have received priority in terms of naming a stand at that venue. Gavaskar and Imran, incidentally, were the two captains of India and Pakistan when Sharjah hosted their first-ever Asia Cup in 1985.
As Tendulkar turns for the next single on reaching 50, there is a question mark that gnaws at you – and I am not alone in this as a fan. The obsession to stay controversy-free and not be judged as a failure is something where he can possibly take a relook at this stage of his life. It’s completely his call to whether enjoy reaping the benefits of the hard work in retirement – or if he wants to roll up his sleeves and be engaged in a bigger role some time.
Well, his peers have not shied away from the ‘dirty’ job. Rahul Dravid has staked his reputation by agreeing to take the hot seat of being an Indian coach, Sourav Ganguly won more enemies than friends as the BCCI president while VVS Laxman is now tasked with building up the next assembly line of talent in the National Cricket Academy.
Tendulkar, on the other hand, had been a member of the much-decorated Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) and is now a mentor of the Mumbai Capitals camp – an ornamental position to the best of our knowledge. He, of course, has his signature Global Middlesex Cricket Academy where Tendulkar had once quietly assigned a role for childhood friend Vinod Kambli as the coach.
Will the god of cricket step out of his comfort zone at some point? Let’s wait and watch!