Stop Blaming Tendulkar’s Non-Retirement On Indians’ Silly Minds

Mohinder Amarnath, now on a revenge comeback tour, says:

“Indians are very emotional and we hang on to our past,” he said. “Sachin is a great player, but one can’t play for forever. He’s not the same anymore.”

I’ve heard this argument fairly often in the past decade, and it usually comes from Indians in powerful positions. They say things like, “Indians have a hero worship problem,” or “Indians can’t think strategically about X issue because they just can’t calm down.” The subtext is the same one peddled by British colonialists: The natives aren’t really rational.

Now, yes, it’s true many Indian cricket fans are, er, passionate about the game. Western commentators often seem bemused at the open expression of ecstasy in Indian crowds when the national team does well, and the sharp silences that follow when the  team does badly.  I think the outpouring has more to do with the different social conventions of showing joy — or, really, any emotion in a public space — in India and the West, and shouldn’t be used as evidence for the statement, “Cricket is religion in India,” often trotted out lazily by Indian and white man alike.

At any rate, there are both good and bad reasons to keep Tendulkar. Even if you approached the problem sans emotion, it’s not clear you’ll get to the conclusion that I reached last week (i.e., sack Tendulkar). But the larger question is, Why shouldn’t we think emotionally about Tendulkar — or Dravid or Laxman? In the last fifteen years, we have seen the development of two — possibly three — of the greatest batsmen ever produced by India, and possibly the world. Isn’t it entirely natural and human — not specifically “Indian” — to have some difficulty contemplating the end of such careers? Imagine Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, and Michael Schumacher all contemplating retirement from the same team in the same year — what, are you really not going to be “emotional” about it? These are special people, and these are special times.

Keep in mind that Ricky Ponting, clearly past his prime for about a year, wasn’t shoved; before he announced his retirement, the selectors of a supposedly ruthless and hyper-rational cricket board publicly sounded their confidence in him. And when he did retire,  Michael Clarke started to tear up next to him. My point is that a) It’s not necessarily emotion that’s clouding the Tendulkar retirement issue; and b) Even if emotion were involved, there’s nothing deviant about the “Indian mind” complicating the matter.

That’s what I meant when I said we can’t get over Tendulkar. To contemplate his retirement is, really, to contemplate mortality — it’s a terror for the human mind.

5 thoughts on “Stop Blaming Tendulkar’s Non-Retirement On Indians’ Silly Minds

  1. Mithil says:

    But do you believe the larger perception among outsiders and erudite cricket viewers that indians love its cricketers more than its cricket. Or is that a cricketing norm globally?

    • duckingbeamers says:

      Good question! I think I’ve written that, like most fans, I care more about cricket when a particular team is playing. Don’t get me wrong; I’m going to watch Sri Lanka play Australia, but if something distracts me, I’ll be happy to turn the game off. I think this is a fairly universal trait — maybe Australians know the most about cricket, and the English talk and write about it the best, but at the end of the day, relatively few neutrals want to watch Bangladesh play New Zealand.

      Is there anything wrong with this? I’m not sure. Cricket’s more exciting when exciting players are playing, right? Part of the fun of the game is that each player is different — contrast, say, Malinga with Peter Siddle — and such variety, perhaps unmatched by any other game, allows the fullest expression of the range of humanity.

  2. live score says:

    Yeah I think you’re righ and it’s the time has come for the great legend of cricket and the little master to retire by he is certainly losing his way out there in the field and be fore people start to demand his retirement he should retire himself.A lot of legends have retired like Laxman, Dravid and Ganguly and now Ponting too has retired so I think now is the ideal time for Tendulkar to retire at least from the ODIs.

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