And, so, Sachin Tendulkar has retired…
…from one day cricket.
It is as if we were all expecting a massive earthquake, a seismic event that would rattle the very core of this sport we all love; but instead there was just a small rumble, enough to shake the dishes in the cupboard but little else.
Cricket writers, both the paid and unpaid versions, were ready the world over to hit “publish” on their Sachin retirement posts – most of which had been written sometime between the Test against England at the Oval last summer and the Test against England at Nagpur last week.
But like a flurry of wickets at the end of a day’s play, the script had been rewritten, and so with it all the sportswriters’ copy.
He was retiring, but only from one day cricket; stop the presses.
This is not to say that Sachin retiring from ODIs is not a big deal. It is a very big deal. He redefined the genre. He did for cricket what Nirvana did to rock music. It’s just that, well, his announcement felt a little…disappointing. It missed the mark, expectation wise.
We were expecting New York Strip, instead we got meat loaf.*
Now, I was not hoping for him to retire from all formats, but the kind of a send off he would have gotten, like the one Dravid received, would have been the kind of send off he deserved. Now all the posts I am reading feel half hearted, like they really aren’t as sad as they had hoped they would be. His ODI stats are remarkable, of course, but it is when they are combined with his Test stats that he becomes God-like. And can you really go on for 1,000 words, lyrically eulogizing him with platitudes and whispers and tears and metaphors when he is only retiring from one format?
It’s almost as if, for the first time in his career, he did not do the thing we all expected from him – he went against tradition, against the system, and decided to do it differently than Dravid, than VVS. And in doing so, he disappointed us.
Or maybe his hand was forced by the BCCI, which means that retiring solely from ODIs was definitely Sachin staying true to form: doing what it is required, and not asking questions.
All of the above said, he is no longer an active participant in the format he changed forever, and that is a story. Maybe not the story we were hoping to write, but a story nonetheless.
One day cricket is here to stay, and one can argue that Sachin is the reason why it is here to stay. I am not quite sure if that is the right legacy for him, or one that he deserves, but it is still a powerful legacy to behold. In a game beloved by two billion people from the village cricket fields of southern England to the Mumbai backstreets, one man changed one facet of it forever. And that is something worth noting.
When Presidents in America leave office, historians always ask: what will their legacy be?
With Lincoln it was the Civil War; with Wilson the depression; with FDR the new deal and World War II; with Carter inflation and hostages; with Bush Jr. Iraq.
For Sachin, I feel it will be the ODI format.
Right or wrong, that is my opinion.
And the fact that he is retiring from the format he reinvented means there is room for another to possibly step up, and change it forever again, positively or negatively.
Which I think is an exciting prospect.
Cricket in general, and one day cricket specifically, and Indian cricket even more specifically, are going through a rebuilding phase, which is something all fans enjoy**, despite the depths we have to endure before the rebuilding begins in earnest. Change brings light into darkness.
India’s ODI squad in the 2015 World Cup will look vastly different than it did in 2011, and so could the sport in general. I am looking forward to seeing the changes that both bring to this wonderful, old, but still evolving, game that I love.
*I am a vegetarian.
**Jarrod Kimber wrote a post about this that I cannot seem to find, otherwise I would have properly cited with a link.