History books, and I am talking about the ones prescribed for us in school, tell us simple stories. Like how Gandhiji brought us freedom.Like how non-violence made the British leave.

Not that we complained—after all the last things one wants in late teenage life are complexities, especially of the type that can come to bite you on your ass during Board exams.

One of the many complexities papered over in school, which for many of us was the last time we formally read history, was the uneasy relationship Mahatma Gandhi shared with much of Congress’s top-brass post-1945. As independence became inevitable, and Gandhi’s utility waned, a large section of the rank-and-file felt that Gandhi exercised way too much control over the Congress party, as evidenced by the sidelining of the more popular and charismatic Patel in favor of Gandhi’s favorite, Jawaharlal Nehru. Even those that won the internal power struggle, the so-called progressives under Nehru, were worried that Gandhi’s negation of technology and his doctrinaire embrace of a medieval pastoral ideal of India, of village republics and of sewing one’s cloth and of cleaning one’s own latrine, would come into stark conflict with their Soviet-model of rapid industrialization. Also the fear was that Bapuji’s style of politics, centered as it was on non-cooperation and subversion of authority through systemic paralysis would be a dangerous legacy for post-colonial India. The consensus thus, for different reasons, was rather universal. Namely, that Gandhiji should withdraw from active politics and adopt a more ceremonial role (in today’s IPL terminology what we called a mentor). The only problem was that despite public pronouncement to the contrary, Gandhiji remained as invested in the politics of Congress and India as ever. And given the God-like reverence he was held in, and his readiness to use the weapon of fast as to get his way, there was really nothing anyone could do.

This might be a provocative thing to say, and there is of course a danger of taking the analogy too far, but I will still go ahead and say it. Sachin Tendulkar, in independent India, has been the closest we have had to a Gandhi-like figure, his cult crossing barriers of language and religion, his image transcending sport in the same way Gandhi’s transcended politics.

Like Gandhi, he engenders extreme emotions– religious reverence (“Sachin is God”) as well as, acceptedly from a smaller group, visceral hatred (“Overated and selfish, when he plays well India lose”).

And finally as with Gandhi, and perhaps for the same reasons, he has demonstrated an inability to let go, even though it is fairly evident that he has exhausted much of his goodwill with the powers-that-be in the Indian cricket team. But, as it was with Gandhi, no one can say what needs to be said to him publicly, because the facade of “Sachin is too mighty to be told to retire or, horror of horrors, be dropped” must be maintained. He has been given the status of a modern-day Bheesma, the only man with the divine right to choose his moment of passing because, and I shall let a hypothetical Sachintard speak here—“He has done so much for the country yaar. He knows when he needs to go. You don’t need to tell him, da”.

To Sachin’s credit, whenever the rumblings have started, he has produced a stellar performance and then some more, validating, as if it needed further validation, his God-like ability to persist. Not that he cannot do produce rabbits out of the hat even now, the possibility of a century or a match-winning innings is always around the corner. To labor the analogy, Gandhi could still bring peace to a rioting city when all had given up hope, even after many felt his best days were over. And to labor it even further, the next Test is in Calcutta.

But despite the possibility of yet another purple patch and despite the lack of alternatives, it is time for him to lay down the bat, if for nothing other than that one player cannot consistently be placed above the norms expected for other players, other great players, on the basis of “Sachin cannot be told what to do. He has earned that right.”

And finally, if Sachin truly is God, then watching him flounder about like a human being, day in and day out, lessens our faith in his divinity.

His legacy needs saving. From Sachin himself.


50 thoughts on “Retirement

  1. First! (I don’t know why I did it but I have seen others do it so don’t want to jinx it.)

  2. “And finally, if Sachin truly is God, then watching him flounder about like a human being, day in and day out, lessens our faith in his divinity.” Gold!

  3. Gandhiji apparently had plans to settle in Pakistan. Sachin might have plans to go to Bangladesh to continue playing 🙂

  4. Venkat Raghunandan November 29, 2012 — 7:12 am

    Spot On

  5. Aptly ended with bitter and uneasy Truth…expected a much detailed analysis, even with the analogy of getting the ‘Mahatma’ & ‘God’ status, maintaining a long career without any big controversies & being that single pole around which the tent was built.

  6. Great post. Please keep writing more frequently .

  7. Very nice read …. well written article Arnab Da

  8. He is waiting to see the day when he opens the Indian innings with his son 🙂

  9. Sachin has talent, but he is not a champion batsman. He cannot summon his talent when team needs it desperately. On the other hand, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are true champion batsmen. India lost many matches just because of Sachin. I don’t why people call him God of cricket, he just wets his pants whenever a crisis arises.

    To simply put, Sachin got more from cricket than what he has given to cricket.

  10. and somehow. Dhoni and rohit and raina. would never face such music. neither they are great, nor they are about to turn 40. a little of both goes against sachin. 15 bad innings for any other player with lesser expectations… no problem. I guess sachin must be used to it.

  11. the best time for him to retire was the world cup final or after that SA tour when he scored brilliant centuries

  12. Punter retires.

  13. Same goes for Amitabh. It is time he hangs up his boots and relieve aam junta of his terrible movies and a hoarse voice – a sad ghost of his past. Not to mention that he can never be Regis Philbin.

  14. You hit the nail on the head with the last line

  15. Probably the news will come after the test series is over. He would like to announce it on the home soil.

  16. Let’s look at the ‘God of Basketball’, Michael Jordan, quite possibly the greatest athlete and most iconic sportsman ever (in the wider world). He entered the NBA draft in 1984 and started with the Chicago Bulls. Now I don’t have time or space here to go into a detailed analysis of the ups and downs and various road blocks (gambling controversy etc) of his pro career, but needless to say there were many. Jordan first retired in 1993 citing a loss of desire for the game. He then surprised everyone and went on to sign up for the Chicago White Sox (a Baseball team). In 1995 he trained and returned back to the NBA with a completely changed game (a spot shooter more than a driver). After winning his 6th NBA Finals he anounced his second retirement in 1999. He said he was 99.9% certain he would never play another game. And lo and behold he returned back with the Washington Wizards in 2001 (where he failed miserably). The point is that the truly greatest ever are inseperable from their craft. Sachin picked up a bat at the age of 5-6 and has never looked back. Cricket is more than a passion, its his core, his yearning, his base purpose, his life. Sachin does not need saving. Let Sachin be human for once in his life.

  17. Kya likha hai sir, har labz me jo aadar, samman, aur sacchai ka najuk sa taal mel bithaya aapne. kamaal hai.

  18. He has done so much for the country yaar. He knows when he needs to go. You don’t need to tell him, da!

  19. “more popular and charismatic Patel” – Now, Patel was more effective/efficient , but surely Nehru was more popular and charismatic at that point . Communism, panchsheel and 1962 came much later . Argument can also me made that considering the volatile environment across the country , a statesman like Nehru was a good choice .

  20. Awesome writeup – certified Sachin-tard

  21. The problem for Sachin is the lack of alternatives. He has tons andtons of money, but absolutely no talent outside of cricket. What will he do once he retires. He just does not know anything else! At least Kumble has business and administrative acumen, Dravid and Ganguly speak well and are becoming respected commentators. Srinath has become a match referee. Some others become umpires. Sachin would be a disaster at any of these. That fear is what’s keeping him in the game.

    Without cricket, he fears being reduced to nothing.

  22. Indophile,

    “The last date for the nominations for the post of the President of Congress, and thereby the first Prime Minister of India, was April 29, 1946. And the nominations were to be made by 15 state/regional Congress committees. Despite Gandhi’s well-known preference for Nehru as Congress president, not a single Congress committee nominated Nehru’s name.

    On the contrary, 12 out of 15 Congress committees nominated Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. The remaining three Congress committees did not nominate any body’s name. Obviously, the overwhelming majority was in favour of Sardar Patel.”

  23. I started writing out a comment which became so long that I decided to blog it rather than leave it here.

    It’s time for his head, maybe, but not so much for his retirement

  24. This would make a great college admissions essay….sorry, it’s just that time of the year.

  25. Very nicely written GB! Another terrific piece on retirement (Ponting)by Dravid is on cricinfo

  26. And what happens when Sachin retires? Do we have a whole talent-set waiting to replace him? Current crop of players cant play test cricket AT ALL. People are going gung-ho about Pujara…let him first play such innings at Perth or Durban. Also, the problem is NOT Sachin…its the mentality of Indian team. They are losers of first grade.

    Sachin isnot getting any younger ofcourse but please let him be. We – the “masters of gully cricket” – are “advising” Sachin ? Let it rest.

  27. my review for talaash… minor spoiler… the only spoiler though.
    but just for fun.

  28. Very well written. This seemed almost unimaginable parallel until you pointed out the similarities. Much appreciated.

  29. Greatbong,
    I agree that India’s independence was not “won” in a bloodshed with british.
    Perhaps negotiated, IMHO.
    Even if British “gave up” India due to the damage done to economy due to second world-war, the idea that it was “given up” vs “won” is insignificant, when there is an active movement that put Gandhi and other leaders under more than five arrests and in jail for more than two years. Those people in jail also included quite a few present/future professors and educators of India spending 2-6 years in prison. Those professors had balls. And when there are balls involved, tenure-tracks/research analysis/publications/blogs don’t matter. Nothing else matters. You are better than this article. Tendulkar part, I have no disagreement.

  30. Argumentative Indian December 1, 2012 — 5:34 am

    I do hope Sachin Tendulkar plays for another six to ten years. As you have rightfully articulated towards the end of the above article, we do need more of God to truely appreciate his Godliness.

    A random thought presents itself, Princess Diana’s death was a tragedy, how much better would have been a much, much longer life for her, a long life as Mrs. Dodi Al Fayed that is.

  31. I never heard you or any of your fellow bongs asking for ganguly’s retirement or sacking when he wasnt performing close to 2 years. It finally took someone as hard headed as chappel to ask him to step down. And gangulys reply was to score a century against minnows and then go to the press. The worst part was that even after the public outcry against him (by public, i refer to the people from most states of India, except west bengal), the bengali led administration under jagmohan dalmiya had the audacity to keep him in the team as a ‘all rounder’.
    And the less said about gangulys selfishness the better. There have been so many occasions when he so obviously slowed down while nearing a personal landmark that most indians (excluding benaglis of course) abused him.

    I am not making a case for sachins inclusion in the team. I am just highlighting your duplicity of standards and obvious parochialism in favouring ganguly. But i guess we cant expect anything better from a people who actually booed the indian team and supported the south africans in a one dayer in calcutta, simply because ganguly had been dropped from the team.

  32. Read this to understand other side of story… Hope you will try to read to understand other perspective rather than read to reply back who oppose your opinion… Also I would like to see you accepting fact if comments are against your blog and those are true.

  33. Argumentative Indian December 1, 2012 — 10:31 am

    @ JB,
    Very well put. Thanks for bringing up parochialism & duplicity.

    As another Bengali, who found Dada’s repeated, successful comebacks, despite perhaps his many ill wishers’ ardent prayers, simultaneously inspiring and uplifting, it is precisely to offset any potential accusations of both parochialism and duplicity, that I would seek the present God to be measured on the same scale & thence meted out the same treatment, as the mere mortal in the earlier case.

    Your reference to Greg Chappel’s hard headedness is interesting, brains after all, are soft tissue. Be that as it may, under no circumstance, can the immensity of the gentleman’s contribution to India’s performance during the then world cup be overstated.

    Saurav Ganguly, took a team whose performance signalled much greater respect for participation than victory in a competitive sporting event, and inculcated in them the hunger of victory. He was justly rewarded for his efforts, as India usually rewards her heroes, especially those that put their team above their personal records.

    God captained once and figured out that perhaps the better way to serve the game and country is by breaking and creating personal records. Perphaps astuteness of judgement, is after all, the key to a residential permit on Mount Olympus.

  34. He cannot go now, If he does then he will be seen as copying Ricky!

  35. Here’s what Rabindranath Tagore had to say (interestingly, about himself) in his novel “Shesher Kobita.” I apologise to all readers who cannot read Bengali.

    “?????????? ???? ????-??? ??????? ?????? ???, ????? ???? ????? ????????… ??? ??????? ???????? ?? ????? ???? ????? ?? ??, ????? ????????????????? ??? ??? ??????? ??? ?????????? ????? ????… ? ??? ???? ???? ????? ??? ?? ????, ?????? ??????? ?? ??? ????? ?? ????? ??? ????…??????? ?????? ???? ????? ???? ??? ???? ?? ????, ???? ?? ?????? ?????? ?????? ???? ??? ???????… ??-?? ??? ???-????? ??????? ?????? ????? ????? ??? ?? ???? ?????? ?????? ???? ?????? ????? ??? ?????? ?????????? ???????? ?? ???? ???? ????? ????? ??????? ??? ????????? ????? ????? ????? ?????? ?????? ????, ??????? ???? ???? ???? ???? ??? ???? ???? ??????? ????? ???????? ?? ?????????? ?????????? ?? ????? ???????? ?????? ??????? ??????? ????? ??????? ??-?? ????????? ?????? ?????? ?? ??????– ??????? ?????? ??? ???? ??, ??????? ?????? ???? ??????? ????? ????? ????? ?????? ???????, ?????? ????????, ?????? ????????”

  36. Sachin’s window of opportunity has now closed. Now he has to play until pronounced dead.

  37. “His legacy needs saving. From Sachin himself.”

    Couldn’t have put it better.

  38. Well… the Bengali font didn’t show up, so the non-Bengali readers win! What Tagore had said is, in short, that all poets should produce poetry for a maximum of five years, and the biggest complaint about Rabindranath Tagore is that the guy is alive for an indecent period of time. If he doesn’t know when to stop, his readers should desert him. Moreover, any good thing in this world is good only because it is sparse. If it is available in abundance, then it makes itself mediocre just by making itself too easy to obtain. The poets who are not ashamed to live for 60 or 70 years punish themselves by making themselves cheap. They end up copying from their earlier work and becoming the subject of ridicule by their imitations. So it is the duty of the readers to make these old poets stop.

  39. JB,

    This is the most sensible post, in the comments section in a long long time.

    Just perfect….

  40. CA Harshal Parte December 5, 2012 — 9:12 am

    He has scored more than 50 in kolkatta test and is still batting. Now what do you say about this?

  41. The Parochial Bong December 7, 2012 — 1:37 pm


    Shouldn’t you be in Mumbai protecting The Chosen People from offensive Facebook posts?

  42. Sachin’s legacy isn’t his to destroy. His record is indelible, and whether his career ends with a swagger or a crushing retreat won’t affect our memories.
    I’m a big Sachin fan (Link), but I think he needs to be dropped. It won’t happen though.
    I can’t understand why he’s clinging on. Is he waiting to play 200 tests? Or for a test series win? Perhaps he hoped India would whitewash England and then he could retire.
    What’s bothering me now is how easily people are forgiving him. The 76 in the Kolkata test was an unsure, edgy knock. If you can’t seriously expect a score over 100 from your 2-down batsman at least every now and then, it’s time to drop him.

  43. I must say, I saw the title and for a moment I was shocked, thinking you were announcing your retirement. Glad to know greatbong isn’t retiring. 🙂

  44. I suspect, Sachin has two motives to continue, this is his only passion and he can’t picture himself doing anything else (no surprise) and that he wants to leave sufficient gap in his test stats so no one else can even think of getting close. He can see Kallis inch up on his rear view mirror and it is scaring the bejesuses out of him.

  45. The similarities between Gandhi and Sachin don’t end here. Sachin has joined as a RS MP through the same party which Gandhi wanted to dissolve, but unwilling to fast unto death for it, for the fear of loss for his appointee, Jawahar. And, like the Nehru family which rules India for last 6 plus decades, on Sachin’s reposing faith in THE family, Sachin’s son has been selected to represent Mumbai. Off course, we should ignore the coincidence that he joined Congress party, and that Congress party has most hold over the cricketing world, including BCCI. After all, we Indians have learnt to take the unimaginable coincidences into our stride, thanks to the great entertainer of 80s and 90s, Manmohan Desai.

  46. I have never heard you or any of your fellow bongs asking for ganguly’s retirement or sacking when he wasnt performing. Why such a partiality ?

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