There is nothing worse than a genuine sports star not knowing when its time to step out of the limelight. It is great when some retire from international competition and continue to play at their club or county, state or provincial level, as the time they spend with players coming up is invaluable. Sadly too many today linger for that one last pay-check of monstrous proportions.
One man who certainly does not need the money is Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, the world’s leading run-getter in both test and one-day internationals with over 100 international centuries.
Having been in India when he finally scored that magical 100th international hundred against Bangladesh, it was interesting to witness the mood amongst Indian cricket fans. None begrudged ‘the little master’ the achievement, but many felt that now that history had been made it was time for him to lay down his pads for good. There were others who were extremely critical of this particular innings, which was on the slow side, and ultimately India lost the game.
Tendulkar opted not to step aside then, and now the calls for the 39 year old to retire are becoming stronger and more passionate. For 23 years Tendulkar has shouldered the hopes of a nation and carried those hopes in a manner that few others could have done, with modesty, humility and in the style of a true sportsman. He has been a credit to the game and his nation at a time when a great deal of mud has been hurled about.
His recent poor scores in New Zealand have tarnished a great career, and one almost wishes he had announced his retirement earlier in the year. He has now gone 25 innings without a hundred in the five day game, his last century coming in South Africa at Cape Town in January 2011.
His low scores in New Zealand have been a concern but what has had his former team mates Sunil Gavaskar and Mohammed Azharuddin worried is the manner in which he has been dismissed. He has been bowled in all of his innings. HIs average for 2012 is down to 27.22, and has only ever been lower on three occasions, in his third year in international cricket in 1991 (19.50) 2003, (17.00) and 2006 (24.27). In 2003 he missed most of the year with a tennis elbow injury and in 2006 he was absent with a shoulder injury.
As many clamour for him to call it quits, as his magnificent footwork appears to have slowed, former team mate Sourav Ganguly is staying loyal until the end, being quoted as saying “I honestly feel that the time has not yet come for him to go. His ability has not declined, he has just not had enough time in the middle.” Maybe that is because he keeps getting out?
Hopefully Tendulkar will prove us all wrong, or he will realise that it is indeed time to pull up stumps. Sadly that day comes to every great player, the only difference is knowing when is the right to call “time.”