Leave Tendulkar alone

Sachin Tendulkar…the slump-K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

Sachin Tendulkar knows what he needs to do, but what he can do without is his professional and personal pride being questioned.

It is over 20 years since Sachin Tendulkar made his debut at the age of 16. An age when his peers would have been content to get some attention from girls, or go out to a movie, or hang out with friends. But the little man chose to take on the best of fast bowlers on a cricket field with an intent to tame them. He succeeded in doing so across the world, in all conditions and in different eras. His exploits gave the media enough and more reasons to make him the lead story all through his career. By and large, the media as well as the public only marvelled at Tendulkar, the peerless batsman and a role model.

Over the years, Tendulkar has seen a lot of changes not only in the game that he is almost obsessed with, but also in the way the media looks at issues. From being hailed as the “God of cricket”, the little master has been reduced to a subject of discussion in the last few days for all the wrong reasons. His dismissals — not very dissimilar — in the two Tests against New Zealand have triggered a debate as to whether it is time for the “God of cricket” to leave Indian cricket in the hands of mortals.

As far as I am concerned, the mode of dismissals only indicated that even for someone like Tendulkar, the competitive edge has to be honed relentlessly. Let’s not forget that he has been part of a training process wherein he played as many matches as he could on a day!

That being the case, his decision to opt out of the ODIs in recent times had denied him the opportunity of using them as a platform to be in the groove for Tests. Tendulkar opted out for his own reasons. No argument on that count. However, prior to the New Zealand series, there was a long break and he was short of match practice. It may be argued that for someone who has played for so long it is a case of mind over matter, but this is where the age factor comes in. Batting is all about reactions and for those reactions to remain as automatic as a conditioned reflex — like how it is to turn on the switch upon entering a dark room — being in constant touch is important.

Of course, Tendulkar knows what he needs to do, but what he can do without is his professional and personal pride being questioned. He must be as hurt by his failures as he is by the criticism that has been directed at him of late. Let’s rest assured that an achiever of his stature is not going to hang on way past his time for other reasons. I am sure that as the season progresses, he will get back to his rhythm and churn runs much to his and his fans’ relief. He has been in this situation before and unlike others, he has made his bat do the talking.

It is rather a shame that Tendulkar’s failures are being seen as opportunities to attract the eyeballs for want of any other juicy controversy. The wonder kid, who has gone on to become the oldest cricketer in the Indian team, will know best when to shrug off the immense responsibility he has carried on his shoulders for well over two decades. Until then, he deserves a little bit of sensitivity for the simple reason that he not only has been the pride of the nation but also instrumental in making the jobs of a lot of people worthwhile. Hopefully, it won’t be long before the little master makes his detractors wish they hadn’t jumped the gun.