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Leave when you are still welcome

Maninder Singh

All of a sudden the debate over Sachin’s continuance in one-day cricket has gained grounds. The very people who the other day worshipped the Little Master is of the view that he is no longer worth his place in the Indian side. This is disappointing no doubt, but was always coming, seeing the way the Mumbaikar was game on demoting him to an ordinary player from a great one.

I am of the opinion that greats should leave while they are still regarded as greats. Years of hard work, thousands of sweat beads and countless sacrifices make them what they are. It’s not easy. It can never be easy to leave a profession that not only gave you big money and adulation but with which you were associated for more than 15 years. But still people need to take harsh decisions. Certain steps in life may not look very good in the immediate future but can keep one in good stead in the long run. Sachin retiring, if he does so, from ODIs is certainly one of them.

One may wonder why the fans or cricket experts for that matter are so peeved at Sachin’s recent failures. Didn’t he serve the country enough to decide for himself when is the time to leave? The answer is that he still has some cricket left in him yes, but the way he is playing the shorter version of the game is far from convincing and for that very reason he should quit playing in coloured clothing. The same batsman at whose mercy bowlers used to play earlier is now playing at their mercy. It’s not that he did not have weaknesses. Even in earlier days he had problems with the incoming deliveries but bowlers were so petrified by his presence that they could hardly bowl any wicket taking delivery. It happened because of his arrogant and dominating nature while batting. But unfortunately, Sachin is a former shadow of himself.

Somewhat similar is the case with the former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq who wisely decided to announce his retirement from ODIs before he was ousted. Sachin and Inzy are two of the greatest batsmen to have graced a cricket ground. But by insisting on to continue beyond a limit is like jeopardizing one’s hard earned respect.

This World Cup has already witnessed high drama and the ouster of two of the most popular teams in the game of cricket. Losses always make heads roll and something alike is sure to happen in both India and the country across the border. Raw faces will emerge; some old guards will go to the oblivion. It’s the graph of life; goes up once, comes down the other time. But make no mistake, India and Pakistan will emerge and emerge good from the ashes of the Cup debacle.