Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Well done Little Master!




Sachin Tendulkar turning down Test captaincy has come as a shock for some, most to be precise. In my case, it was his early willingness to burn his finger again that seemed baffling. But finally, good sense prevailed and Tendulkar has opted out, clearing the decks for MS Dhoni’s anointment as the Test captain as well.

Sachin probably realizes that at 34, he is not getting younger anymore. His almost puerile joy remains intact but it can’t mask the creaky bones, stiff muscles, slowing reflex and failing anticipation. The wears and tears of nearly two decades of rigorous cricket is enough to numb the senses and maim the body and it’s just because of sheer discipline and athleticism that Sachin has managed to minimize the damage – a tennis elbow, a shoulder operation and couple of nips and tucks here and there were inevitable after all.

So at this age and stage, cricket is more played in the mind than the 22-yard. And when the body is no more what it was in the early 1990s, it’s the mind –with the cushion of having a vast reservoir of experience to dig in – that guides him.

Test captaincy would have meant risking the aura, at least part of it, he acquired by dint of his batting. The mind would be pre-occupied with the team’s welfare with a level of accountability that is absent when you are in the squad merely as a player.

Once you are the captain, you volunteer yourself to intense, even inane, media scrutiny and public dissection – be it the toss, bowling changes, field setting, batting order, declaration or imposing or not imposing follow-ons.

Sachin, clearly in the final lap of an illustrious career, can’t afford to court the risk. Come on, he has far outgrown the role of captaincy and why should he put his reputation at stake?

Of course he was game for yet another go at the top job after burning his fingers in the past. But thankfully for him, desire was not allowed to get the better of common sense and Sachin realized what is good for him.

Besides, being the kingmaker has its own charm. Sachin suggested a younger captain – read MS Dhoni – but knows it well that be it Dhoni or anyone else, there would be cases when even the skipper would listen to him.

Being the King would have surely fetched him the crown but along with it comes the thorns. In contrast, Kingmakers enjoy the authority but have none of the accountabilities that come with the job. Your head is not perennially on the chopping block; no need to drag yourself to hostile press conference where questions are virile vitriol; and you are spared of the disappointment of feeling let down by one of your teammates.

The lure of being the Test captain did sway Sachin but he eventually managed to survive the test and turning down the Test captaincy was clearly yet another masterstroke from the Little Master.

Image

No comments: