Was surprised to read about Kapil Dev’s outburst against Sachin Tendulkar recently. Kapil was quite scathing in his remarks and said Tendulkar should have ideally retired from ODIs immediately after the World Cup win.
Now Sachin’s performance in Australia has been nothing like what we know he’s capable of, and I’m sure Kapil’s theory will have plenty of backers especially after the recent two ODIs at Brisbane.
What gets my goat is, Kapil of all people commenting on Sachin’s retirement. Retiring from a sport is never easy and only a few sportsmen worldwide have really gone out on a high. Some faded away on account of injuries and poor form, others well beyond their prime had to be shown the door by the selectors. It is also a personal decision and deep down, each sportsman yearns for that final hurrah before hanging up his boots, bat, racquet, whatever.
It seems not too long ago when Kapil, struggling to get his stock outswinger working and even to take a wicket per match, was allowed to play on well past his usefulness just so he could capture the world record for most wickets. He was a shadow of his old self and was being routinely thrashed by even debutants from Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. Nothing highlighted his decline more than the fact that Anil Kumble, then on a rampage as India’s best bowler, actually had to bowl wide of the stumps to avoid taking a wicket, just so Kapil could take one.
It is therefore, quite ironic that Kapil should be calling for Sachin to retire. Not done, Kaps!
He’s also said that some players didn’t get a chance to play as Sachin’s presence in the team kept them out. Hell yeah, this is not a new phenomenon in Indian cricket. In the past, when India had their famed quartet of spinners, they (especially Bishen Bedi) kept out bowlers of the calibre of Paddy Shivalkar and Rajinder Goel.
He’s forgotten that he himself played at a time when the zonal rivalry was quite fierce, and it was no secret that players from the North weren’t too happy with the number of Bombay players in the national team. In his time, Kapil did everything to include Madan Lal in the team or promote the likes of Chetan Sharma, while keeping others like Raju Kulkarni and later Salil Ankola, out. Many other promising fast medium bowlers also fell by the wayside while he was around.
In India, cricketers are like demigods and every action of theirs is analysed under a microscope, viewed by millions. For the same reason, our selectors are shit scared of pulling the plug when they need to. They can learn from the Australian cricket board, which recently dropped Ponting, pulling down the curtain on his ODI career. There was no browbeating, outrage or raging debate on prime time television, the likes of which we see here.
At the end of it, Sachin is experienced enough to know when it’s time to call it a day and repeated failures while chasing an elusive record isn’t making things easy for him. He would do well to remember the words of Sunil Gavaskar, someone he idolises. Gavaskar quit Test cricket on a high, scoring a masterful and almost match winning 96 against arch rivals Pakistan, on a minefield of a pitch where all other batsmen floundered.
When asked why he’d retired when he was still playing so well, he said, – One should retire when people ask ‘why’, and not ‘why not!’