Tendulkar’s Politics

I don’t really care all that much that Sachin Tendulkar is now a Rajya Sabha M.P. India’s upper house is, like most, fairly inconsequential, and one member is likely to be even more so. And given India’s tradition of including “persons of interest” — like actress Rekha — it’s hard to get too worked up. (I would, however, become more than a little worried if he decided to run for office; as a former Bombay resident, I don’t hold that particular electorate in high esteem.)

But the more interesting question is about politics and cricket. Is there any other team sports that more involves the perils of faction? Forget about the ‘outside’ constituencies — i.e., the board, the media, the selectors, the sponsors, the family (quite a significant list in its own right) — think also about the different camps that emerge from within. Your team is automatically divided into bowlers and batsmen (and if your country is diverse, there are regional squabbles to contend with). Even the batsmen have different roles — the openers can claim to sit at a different table; the No. 3 or No. 4 could be a diva set in his ways; and the lower-order may feel perpetually ignored. Each has specific needs.

A good captain has to manage all this, and that too, often while traveling in a strange land of buses and hotels. It’s an environment that can only breed resentment and suspicion. Which is why, I suspect, certain captains — like Sammy, or even maybe Ganguly — earn more plaudits than their individual performances may merit. This is a tough job — much tougher than occupying a seat in the Rajya Sabha.

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