Sachin Tendulkar's retirement was inevitable. Millions, if not billions, of cricket fans would have loved him to play forever for many different reasons; nostalgia, the fear of letting go and a little bit of selfishness.
Alas, all good things must come to an end and Tendulkar will retire after his 200th Test, which will be against the West Indies in November.
It shouldn't have been this way. The West Indies weren't due to tour India, but were shoehorned in at the last minute. You can make your own minds up as to whether this was just a happy coincidence.
I plan to look back with great fondness on Tendulkar's superb career, and pay as little attention as possible to the ghastly farewell tour.— Dave Tickner (@tickerscricket) October 10, 2013
It should have been South Africa, the world's best Test side, on their own soil.
Since he made his debut in first-class cricket it has been clear that he was destined for greatness, a prodigy, a legend sent to set alight the hearts of cricket fans and unite fans of the game through his talent.
After nearly a quarter of a century of entertaining, breaking records, tormenting bowlers and generally being timelessly excellent, it will all come to an end in rather unspectacular way, at least in terms of quality of cricket.
The West Indies last beat India on home soil in 1994. They last beat India in a Test in 2002. Suffice it to say, India are favourites and the retirement cushion set out for Tendulkar is likely to provide a soft landing.
Of course, retiring on home soil is a fantastic way to so. Retiring with 200 Tests under your belt, even better. But it's the fact that the tour was arranged under the guise of actually mattering that's so galling, even disrespectful.
One cannot know whether he was part of the decision to cram in a special Test series or not, but his humility, talent and grit all suggest he would have wanted to go out fighting. Although, some might disagree.
Such an easy passage out of the game is a rather anti-climatic way to end it all, isn't it? Cricket does lend itself to romance, but forced romance is somewhat unsettling.
It's understandable that the BCCI and everyone else wanted to give Tendulkar's worshippers one last chance to see him on home soil and in the flesh, but why not simply arrange for a testimonial match instead once he has retired and really tested himself one last time?
Testing your mettle against the best team in the world one last time is many people's aim. For the BCCI to hijack that kind of opportunity from such a legendary player who has done nothing but serve them for over two decades is shameful.
Ricky Ponting retired playing against South Africa in Perth, Rahul Dravid retired playing against Australia in Adelaide, Andrew Strauss retired after a series defeat against South Africa in England. Those retirements weren't particularly romantic, but they were memorable. That is because the subject who retires is far more important than the money his retirement could generate and trying to forcefully create an environment to benefit the player.
Tendulkar's final Test would have been a New Year's epic at Newlands in Cape Town. Alas, that's not to be. His home fans will get the best kind of farewell party they could have hoped for, but it's one that has been done for the good of profit rather than the good of the game or even as a gesture to their loyalty.
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