So the great accumulator is calling it a day. It isn’t quite like riding into the sunset as it is slowly fading away like the Cheshire Cat. Except that, maybe, there is no grin, just a grimace.
All the die-hard fanatical fans are swearing off cricket altogether now that their hero, their darling, their dream, their surrogate success has decided or been told to decide that he should retire. And of those fans I’ll miss none.
The truth is Sachin Tendulkar is nothing more than a bloody-minded run-machine, an extreme example of that fierce Mumbai cricketer, that fanatical player who will play no matter what and succeeds through sheer willpower. Yes, there is talent, oodles of it, big, huge vat filling gobs of it, but only in the run-making department. The man can score runs, will score runs, collect them with straight driven style and improvised leg side flicks, audacious upper cuts over the slips, through the on-side, the off-side through every angle.
His legacy will be one of records that will probably not be broken for years and years. In the modern area of specialists, it is even more unlikely. For me, though, he remains a machine, not human. What other human could cope with the crowds, the expectations, the scrutiny, the sheer weight of the adulation of untold masses.
Look beyond the runs and a different picture comes to my mind. A flawed machine, a machine purpose-built for one purpose only. And therefore lacking in other functions. Captaincy, for example, was one such. I sat in Eden Gardens and despaired at the field placements he employed for Anil Kumble as he toiled manfully all day with no reward. Giving up captaincy must have been easy.
The debate over his role in matches won and matches saved will continue. Another example of his lack of overall match situation nous. Most knowledgeable fans will respect Dravid‘s role and Laxman will be rated higher when it comes to saving matches or winning them. Ganguly will be rated higher in the street smart, big-picture situations. Gavaskar, the other great Mumbai batsman played for a weak side against the greatest collection of fast bowlers, the likes of which has not been seen since – without a helmet.
His ardent fans will be here screaming for my blood, will quote statistics and point to the sheer amount of runs scored, centuries made and so on.
I don’t care for all that. He is a run machine, built for one purpose and one purpose only. To make runs. The machine is obsolete. There is only one thing to do, has been for at least 2 years.