Given the icon he is and the shadow he threw across the cricketing world, it is natural that Sachin Tendulkar’s One Day International retirement will be debated and discussed threadbare. The record books will of course, tell tales of his feats and cricket experts speak to generations to come of a man called Sachin Tendulkar and his exploits with the bat.
Even though cricket is a game of scores, records and numbers, figures do not tell the entire story. Even as he hangs up his bat though only in the ODI format, one has to think about how Tendulkar stood unblinking in the glare of public scrutiny for 20 or more years, with the media following his every move, and his personal space shrunk considerably because of it. To survive that kind of scrutiny itself is tremendous. A lesser person might wilt, lose balance or have a swollen head but Sachin took it all on the chin, with admirable equanimity. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has said that the team learned the lesson of humility from Sachin Tendulkar.
Tendulkar did have his failings and his critics were justified at times. There were things he could have done differently, like not asking for the duty on a luxury car to be waived, being more vocal when the match-fixing storm broke. He has in fact, been criticised for not taking up a bigger role on the periphery of the sport – not speaking out enough about different causes, where he could have used his role to greater effect. For the media he has been painfully reticent, even banal at times during press interactions.
Yet, what he taught far outweighed those drawbacks or minus points if one could call them that. A life where every aspect – both private and public — makes headlines, calls for great balance of mind. Sachin showed he had that on and off the field.