Sachin Tendulkar Should Retire Now!

I need to start by highlighting this age old tradition of Indian culture – viz. Respect for elders. I must admit that I have been a firm believer of this particular aspect of our culture thanks to our education system and the Indian National Pledge that I took every morning in the school (“…I shall give my parents, teachers and all elders respect…”)

Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar (Image Courtesy: THE HINDU)

As I grew and grew enough to become a middle-ager, I realized that people become more and more selfish as they get older – the primary motives behind the same being the greed for money and power. If you look around or read all those corruption topics that came up in the last five or ten years, you will realize that in most corruption cases or charges, there was a senior politician involved (or he/she was the driving force behind the same)

Well, every theory has exceptions and hence before proceeding further let me salute those exceptional elderly and senior fellow citizens who selflessly dedicated themselves to the nation, society and their family and the overall growth and reforms.

Our ‘respect elders’ syndrome can be observed in many real life situations in India. In most traditional families, the oldest person (doesn’t need to be an earning member) still have the final say on the family budget, spending or even what social stand to take on particular issues. He or she is more like the final authority on all family matters and the current Television Serials in Hindi seem to endorse this idea even stronger.

Jokes apart, what this culture has offered our elders is to help them hang around as long as they want to in their respective roles and careers instead of helping with a bit of succession management at the right time. Whatever may be the walk of life, Our seniors just don’t retire!

I have several examples from various fields and domains.

Our first World Cup winning captain and national hero Kapil Dev had to be literally kicked out of the Indian team after a disastrous and stretched final couple of years in his career.

Hiding behind heavy makeup and wigs, our senior actors at 50 or 60 years of age would not mind running around trees with teenage heroines unless they are forcefully and gradually taken out by the industry and fans. This is true in any Indian language movie industry and at times they even depend on the fan clubs and paid fans to hang around by creating fake publicity for the movies released.

Our politicians like Muthuvel Karunanidhi or Deve Gowda never give up a chance to contest the elections or lead their respective parties even though they are on adult diapers, wheelchair and completely mentally/physically unfit to be a public representative or parliamentarian.

Some of our famous playback singers have sung for 1950s films as well as 1990s all for young heroes and heroines. At some point they were kind of forced out giving no opportunities. Why did they have to wait till then and lose respect?

Most of the Indian sportsmen that I know, retired only after they were told to quit or ignored for a couple of years for major tournaments or national selection. This is true not only for cricket but with athletics, hockey, football, tennis, badminton or you name it.

Even worse, we are now hearing an age row from the Army chief of India who potentially wants to hang around for another year. Where are we heading?

Not ready to age gracefully?

The real problem that we are facing hear is that most of us are NOT willing to accept the fact that the age has caught up and you need to take wise decisions about how to utilize your current age, knowledge and acquired skills efficiently?

At certain age people from any walk of life need to think of the following topics:

  • Succession management: How to prepare the next set of people in the line so that they can take up the mantle at the right time without disruption
  • Opportunity for all: Just like I did get a chance at my right age, isn’t it important that the NextGen get a chance as well at their right ages?
  • Utilizing skills, learning differently: How can I retire now and still add value to the domain I am/was operating in? This could include grooming youngsters, joining advisory or planning committees, assuming honorary positions etc
  • Beyond money, power, ranks and visibility: This probably is the only reason why people hang around despite being not in their best times

Sachin Tendulkar Retirement

Now, coming back to the topic of Sachin’s retirement.

In my opinion, Sachin Tendulkar has nothing more to prove (like the latest stupid number from Dhanush suggests) in his field. He has created many individual records, made hell lot of money and fans and more importantly played for the country for around a quarter of a century. He has to accept the fact that he’s 39 now and he got the rare chance to play for India at the age of 16. It’s time for him to do something else in life beyond piling up more personal records, degrade himself and go out. At the moment, it’s clear that he’s slowly degrading and even if he’s not, it’s high time he retired and passed the baton to youngsters. Moreover, with the likes of Ricky Ponting retiring from ODIs, there will not be anyone else who could potentially break his personal records unless the rules of the game and format change drastically. By the way, this is NOT just about Sachin Tendulkar but holds good for most other oldies too – be it Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman – and not so old underperformers like Sehwag.

I had actually mentioned about the need for succession plan in Indian cricket three years ago. If they had done it in steps, the current situation of youngsters not performing would not have happened.

And a final comment on retiring at the right time. Choosing to retire at the right time is all the more important if you are representing the country, a community, geographic region or a team. i.e. People like golfers or tennis players (sometimes actors and singers too) who represent themselves in individual performances may opt for late retirements. But that should not be the case with politicians, sportsmen, and bureaucrats who represent the country. And anybody’s legendary status does not automatically provide extra time for them to decide to go out on their terms! They have to think about the team and country ahead of their individual aspirations.

So Sachin, will you be a gentleman and retire on your own at the peak or would you want to stretch it beyond 40 years of age, belittle yourself and get sidelined forcibly? Decide yourself! Ideally, you should have quit after taking the victory lap in ICC Cricket World Cup finals last year!

Shane Warne’s Top 100 Test Cricketers

Shane Warne’s latest book titled Shane Warne’s Century – My Top 100 Cricketers is out in the market. The following are the ratings he has given to (primarily) the best 100 test cricketers that he has played with.

100 Jamie Siddons
99 Andrew Caddick
98 Graham Thorpe
97 Shahid Afridi
96 Sourav Ganguly
95 Moin Khan
94 Devon Malcolm
93 Arjuna Ranatunga
92 Monty Panesar
91 Graeme Hick
90 Inzamam-ul-Haq
89 Jack Russell
88 Mushtaq Ahmed
87 Gary Kirsten
86 Ian Bishop
85 Chris Gayle
84 Simon Jones
83 Paul Reiffel
82 Craig McMillan
81 Greg Matthews
80 Darren Berry
79 Mark Boucher
78 Stuart Clark
77 V. V. S. Laxman
76 Shane Watson
75 Mahela Jayawardene
74 Shane Bond
73 Mike Gatting
72 John Wright
71 Darren Gough
70 Richie Richardson
69 Alec Stewart
68 Jonty Rhodes
67 Harbhajan Singh
66 Hansie Cronje
65 Carl Hooper
64 Shivnarine Chanderpaul
63 Daniel Vettori
62 Mike Atherton
61 Desmond Haynes
60 Mike Hussey
59 Craig McDermott
58 Andrew Symonds
57 Tim May
56 Damien Martyn
55 Mohammad Azharuddin
54 Michael Vaughan
53 Mohammad Yousuf
52 Brian McMillan
51 Chris Cairns
50 Stephen Harmison
49 Dilip Vengsarkar
48 Dean Jones
47 Robin Smith
46 Justin Langer
45 Ravi Shastri
44 Graeme Smith
43 Kapil Dev
42 Stuart MacGill
41 Sanath Jayasuriya
40 Stephen Fleming
39 Michael Slater
38 Michael Clarke
37 Bruce Reid
36 Allan Donald
35 Virender Sehwag
34 Shoaib Akhtar
33 Kevin Pietersen
32 Darren Lehmann
31 Waqar Younis
30 Andrew Flintoff
29 Saeed Anwar
28 Shaun Pollock
27 Jason Gillespie
26 Steve Waugh
25 Andy Flower
24 Brett Lee
23 Kumar Sangakkara
22 Martin Crowe
21 David Boon
20 Rahul Dravid
19 Aravinda de Silva
18 Merv Hughes
17 Jacques Kallis
16 Adam Gilchrist
15 Matthew Hayden
14 Graham Gooch
13 Anil Kumble
12 Mark Taylor
11 Courtney Walsh
10 Ian Healy
9 Mark Waugh
8 Ricky Ponting
7 Muttiah Muralitharan
6 Wasim Akram
5 Glenn McGrath
4 Allan Border
3 Curtly Ambrose
2 Brian Lara

…and the number 1 is…
1 Sachin Tendulkar

Though it is very difficult for anybody to come up with the top 100 (as compared to say a dream team of 11), I guess Shane Warne has short sighted views on certain players and it is majorly driven by prejudictions. The other point is that we can perhaps pick Top 20 batsmen, Top 20 bowlers, Top allrounders and wicket keepers etc but not a mixed lot.

Also, Warne seems to understand only New Zealand and England cricketers well owing to hardfought Ashes series etc. Rest of the people, he picked purely based on what he has experienced while batting or bowling.

The following ranks may be controversial:

Shahid Afridi: Should he figure in the Top 100 test players at all?
Arjuna Ranatunga & Saurav Ganguly: Should not they come a little earlier in the list owing to their astute leadership qualities?
Inzamam Ul Haq: I am surprised that one of the best test batsmen ever is figuring at rank 90!
Alec Stewart and Mahela Jayawardhane should definitely come a lot before Chanderpaul or McDermott. Among bowlers, does Merv Hughes deserve to be at top 20? I thought Waqar Younis and Allan Donald were a lot better than Hughes!

As I said earlier, it is really a hard thing to do, but probably he could still have done a better job?

Way forward for the Fab 4 and the Spin legend…

After witnessing the dismal performances of India’s fabulous 4 and the legendary spinner & captain, I am forced to write that it is time for them to call it a day. Instead of facing axe from the BCCI selectors and getting booed by the public, they should take a decision on their own.

Assessment of the current test team

As I expressed in an earlier post in this blog, they had a chance to rotate these four batsmen to make sure that only two or three of them play in a single match. This would have given opportunity to a budding test cricketer to try his skills and take the challenge along with the experienced. By not doing so, Mr. Kumble (who himself need to be rotated) and co underlines that all oldies will play together until they are chucked out. Reminds me of the Saurav Ganguly era of leadership.

Suggested Roadmap for India’s test team

  • Kumble can be given another test series to help experiment with youngsters and retire himself
  • Rahul Dravid needs to announce his retirement soon after this series as he has nothing more to prove. Rahul has been the main batsman in the middle order for quite some years now and has scored above 10,000 runs each in both versions of the game. It is right time for him to retire!
  • Saurav Ganguly has to retire himself or removed from the squad immediately
  • VVS Laxman may be given a chance to play up in the order for another series and see if he can do better. During the Ganguly era and post that as well, he was always ill-treated with selection as well as batting order experiments
  • Sachin Tendulkar can be given another test match or two to retire gracefully after breaking Brian Lara’s record. There’s no point in persisting with the god forever as in any case Ricky Ponting will over take him in another year or two and Sachin cannot race against time!
  • Both Sachin and Laxman should be given the task of inducting the youngsters into the test mindset over the next couple of months.

The Indian test team has to undergo a major change – mainly in the batting department and I am convinced that heroes like Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni have nothing to do as test batsmen. Of course, Dhoni figures in the scheme of things as a wicket keeper batsman and as a captain. Unfortunately, the selectors and the current captain could not manage the transition in a phasewise manner as they were either afraid of the fans’ reaction back home or were worried about their own place! But if they don’t do it in a fitting manner, it is going to hurt forever – something like the West Indies team went through, when all their great bowlers retired together and then the batsmen, leaving the team in tatters.