When it comes to cricket and its fandom in India, Sachin Tendulkar is a phenomenon that evokes emotions. The farewell notes, hashtags and memorabilia circulated four years ago during his retirement is still fresh in the mind. There are no second thoughts that his jersey ‘10’ stands tall, amid an array of numbers.
According to reports, the jersey has unofficially retired. The BCCI has claimed that cricketers aren’t willing to wear the jersey out of respect for Tendulkar, although there is no plan to formally retire it.
Read: Tendulkar's '10' out of bounds?
The decision of the players could be an aftermath of Shardul Thakur’s predicament, when he wore the number on his ODI debut against Sri Lanka earlier this year. The 26-year-old received a lot of flak for the move, albeit for numerological reasons, and he had to change his shirt.
Numbers and emotions
Will there be no more ‘10’ in the Indian cricketing world in that case? Former Mumbai cricketer Shishir Hattangadi, who played the game with Tendulkar, asks: “Did cricket stop after Don Bradman retired? How can you stop a jersey number because a great player retired?”
“Every player should be allowed to take the jersey they want. Tendulkar is a great player but No. 10 existed before Tendulkar, and will exist after Tendulkar. But I would rather look at Shardul’s performances, rather than what number he is wearing,” he added.
Read: Sachin and I were in touch through messages, says Kambli
Former India cricketer Anshuman Gaekwad, who also coached during Tendulkar’s reign as captain, believes, “Numbers carry sentiments over the years. You can’t give it to someone else. Also, one shouldn’t quit his lucky number.”
Respect and history
Mumbai cricketer Abhishek Nayar, who shared the dressing room with Tendulkar till his last day in domestic cricket, feels it’s the respect for the icon which is working in the mind of today’s players. “I am sure he wouldn’t have a problem with cricketers wearing No. 10. But I think the kind of respect he has in India, it’s just a reaction to that respect. Nobody feels they should take what he has worn for a long time. It’s an emotional thing and no one would want to change that emotion,” he reasoned.
Pakistan pace great Shoaib Akhtar, also a close friend of Tendulkar, relates the jersey with history. “They should preserve the number, it is history and it should be captured for the whole nation and for centuries. It shouldn’t have gone to any other player,” he asserted.
Though there is no such rule that a jersey number could be retired in honour of a player, but Mumbai Indians — Tendulkar’s IPL team, had retired the shirt.