The footwork was nil. The deliveries which he once handsomely charged down and dispatched into the stands as per his will knocked his stumps. The bowlers who once feared bowling to him, bowled longer spells, knowing that there’s a chance of getting him out. And to top it all there was endless debate on whether it was time for the master to call it a day. But Tendulkar, the legend, still didn’t deliver.
When the Little Master hit his 100th ton against Bangladesh earlier this year, the century came as a huge relief for the batsman and for his fans who wanted him to overcome the pressure cooker scenario. The ton wasn’t a convincing one, but keeping in mind the tough phase he was going through, we all were happy that it was finally over. The history books were re-written, the media went gaga, and it seemed that the 38-year-old will soon be back to business.
That wasn’t the case and the batting stalwart’s highest score for this year was 80, with just two half-centuries to his name.
In an interesting interview soon after scoring the hundredth ton, Tendulkar said one should not retire when at peak, as it’s a “selfish thought”. There are things which one regrets having said in the past, and the particular statement must be one of them for Sachin, as since then, he hasn’t managed to reach the top of his game. It goes without saying that the cricket fraternity would obviously want him to leave on a high note.
And it wasn’t just Tendulkar. The entire Indian team disappointed the cricket fans with their dismal performances throughout the year. Following humiliating losses in Australia and England, the Indian batting order became even more fragile post Dravid and Laxman’s retirements. This added extra responsibility on Tendulkar’s shoulders. But for some reasons, Tendulkar’s bat failed to produce the kind of innings which we had all got used to over the last 23 years.
As a Tendulkar fan, what was even more painful to see, was his approach. From Aaron Phangiso, to Monty Panesar, everybody went into a never-ending celebration after disturbing Tendulkar’s bails. His wicket continues to be a prized possession for the bowlers, but in reality we know, in 2012, he didn’t put a price on his wicket and it was just a matter of time before he was dismissed.
The batting genius never showed the intent to counter-attack. On most of the occasions he was caught inside the crease, something we rarely see from him. Tendulkar’s on field presence has hardly threatened the bowlers this year. The century scored against Bangladesh remained to be the only one for Tendulkar by the end of the England series. In the 9 matches he played in 2012, he scored 357 runs with a below par average of 23.80.
India will appear in Tests not before February next year, when the Australians arrive in India and we would be haunted with the memories of the series ‘Down Under’. Playing against the Aussies has been something Tendulkar has cherished throughout the career as it brings the best out of him. Hopefully, the legend will call it a day then, which would be a fitting end to a glorious career.
Sooner or later if he keeps playing, Tendulkar might gain form once again, but it’s respect which has been deteriorating for the legend. It is almost the end of the calendar year, and Tendulkar finds himself in a similar phase he somehow overcame at the beginning of this year – a pressure cooker scenario.
Some of the best batsmen of modern era- Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Ricky Ponting drew curtains to their glittering careers in 2012. While Tendulkar’s retirement is surely round the corner, the champion batsman should make efforts to leave on a high, as no one would remember what he said after scoring that century of centuries.