I’ve been mostly disappointed by the discussion about Tendulkar’s retirement. One problem is that we don’t have an appropriate baseline for comparison — after all, once you’ve declared man to be God, it’s hard to find the yardstick to measure immortality. So, some people say: Is Current Tendulkar not as good as Old Tendulkar? Others say, Is Tendulkar better than the alternative (i.e., a young, inexperienced player, but one with promise)? Still others say, Is Tendulkar better than Kallis or Ponting?
Part of the issue here is that we can’t compare Tendulkar to the merely good. Once we start to think that Tendulkar is as capable as, say, Gautam Gambhir or Andrew Strauss — both extremely competent players, but not likely to be part the pantheon — then we might as well admit that all is lost. It’s a strange and demanding dynamic. A Cricinfo writer whose name I forget argues that we should let Tendulkar play on because it would be more exciting to see him “struggle.” This is cruel — like that last scene in Gladiator where Russell Crowe’s character has to fight with a stab wound in his back. Besides, Tendulkar hasn’t been completely godly since at least 2006, when Wankhede booed him after another period of wretched form. We’ve seen the man cope ably with age, but we’ve seen him fall plenty in the past five years.
For what it’s worth, my test is: Is current Tendulkar good enough to play in the team? I try to borrow the blindfolds from Lady Justice and ask, “If this were another player — Player X — and I were handed his file as a selector, would I say, Let’s keep him going?” And looking at his record — no centuries in almost two years, an appalling 2012 average — I don’t see any reason to keep Player X in the team.
One thing, though: To see Ponting get his send-off reminded me of all that was wrong about the way Dravid and Laxman left. I’d hate to see another Indian retirement emanate from a news conference. Do it on the field, and do it right. We owe that much to you, and you owe it to us. Deal?