Strike while the iron is hot

The hullabaloo surrounding the autobiography of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and his views on former coach Greg Chappell have stirred the cricketing pot that is usually laced with diplomatic homilies. Often ranked as one of the greatest batsmen of all time, the Bharat Ratna awardee Sachin Tendulkar has chosen to use his autobiography to lash out against a coach whose tenure was fraught with several moments of tension between him and the players, leading, ultimately, to the end of Saurav Ganguly’s Test career in 2008.

One of the dilemmas as an international sportsperson is to always walk the tightrope of maintaining silence and speaking out against something that he or she may think is wrong. Clearly, from Tendulkar’s writing, he felt Chappell’s man management skills were found wanting.

Tendulkar accuses the former Australian batsman of leading from the front only when India won while thrusting players in front when they lost. He also says Chappell behaved like a circus ringmaster and once even told Tendulkar to come back as captain so that the two can “rule over Indian cricket”.

Chappell has predictably denied this. But in India, there will be millions of takers for Tendulkar’s version for two reasons — one, they think he can commit no mistake, and two, Ganguly has often gone on record saying Chappell was the one who destroyed his career.

This begs the question: given Tendulkar’s stature in world sport, shouldn’t he have spoken out earlier against all the ills that hit Indian cricket through his career, including the infamous match-fixing controversy about which he denies any knowledge even now.

If Tendulkar had spoken out against what ailed Indian cricket, would the sport have been better off today? Perhaps; perhaps not. But as a sportsperson adored by millions, there was no way that there could have been any punitive action taken against him by the authorities. Perhaps Tendulkar kept quiet for far too long.

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