Sachin Tendulkar has once again chosen to stay away from captaincy. Once again, because he has done so twice in the past! Most famously, when he decided not to continue as captain after the two-Test series against South Africa at home in 2000. That decision came close on the heels of a highly unsuccessful tour of Australia where his team lost the Test series 0-3 and did not qualify for the tri-series final which the hosts won by beating Wasim Akram’s Pakistan.
One could understand his decision then because, as he said in 2000, “I was not enjoying the game at all, so why carry the burden?”
A few months later, he decided to play under Sameer Dighe in Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy semi-final and final. Dighe, who went on to lead Mumbai to a title triumph, recalled a relaxed Tendulkar in those games in which the Mumbai maestro had scores of 233 not out, 13 not out (against Tamil Nadu), 53 and 128 (against Hyderabad).
“I could see he was more relaxed and in a better position to help the team and me. His help was a constant, but without the captaincy, he could have time for everybody,” Dighe told MiD DAY yesterday. Harbhajan Singh will continue leading Mumbai Indians from where he left off — in October 2011’s Champions League final against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Tendulkar has looked extremely intense while leading Mumbai Indians and that could be attributed to the fast nature of the Twenty20 game. Sure, there will be no drop in intensity, but there could be a slight decrease in the stress level. “Sachin is passionate for all games. That has been his hallmark, that has carried him right through,” reckoned Bishan Singh Bedi, his Team India cricket manager of 1990.
Bedi, who abhors the shortest form of the game, said of the captaincy decision: “It is an internal understanding between the Ambanis and Sachin. It’s fine. I don’t think it will affect national interests. This shouldn’t affect Indian cricket.” It is not that captaincy was weighing Tendulkar down when it came to run-making. In 16 IPL games last year, he scored 553 runs at an average of 42.53 with one century and two fifties.
A press release quoted him as saying, “at this point of time, I feel I need a break from the responsibility of captaincy of the Mumbai Indians. After due consideration, I discussed my intention to hand over the Captainship of the team to Harbhajan Singh. I was touched by the graciousness and wholehearted support they (Mukesh and Nita Ambani) offered me while emphasising that they would accept any decision which helps me to continue enjoying the game.”
Tendulkar appears in prime position for a blast. Chennai (Mumbai Indians opponents on April 4) had better watch out.