Retirements are players’ own business

Posted: February 13, 2011 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, Opinion, World Cup 2011
Tags: , , , , , ,

Goutham Chakravarthi

13 February 2011

Bangalore

World cup brings with it many things. Inevitably each edition plays host one last time to a group of great cricketers performing on cricket’s biggest stage in the hope of going out on a high. Expectations, invariably, sky-rocket from loyal supporters. Heroes are made of performing stars and winning teams are immortalized. Inglorious exits are met with wrath and burning effigies. Heads roll and scars linger till the next significant victory is achieved. Only a blessed few get to go out as world champs. Others walk into sunset alone and hurt.

When a player should retire is his own business. Image: Deccan Chronicle

It is a strange thing this retirement. Young men in the prime of their life otherwise are asked to leave just because a younger and stronger cricketer promises to deliver. A performer of grandeur, excellence and one of mass adulation and worship is replaced with the tone of a has-been. A retiring rock star on the other hand perhaps goes on a world tour for a couple of months one last time. Yes, Test retirements sometimes are on that scale (Steve Waugh, anyone?), but how many of the great theatre artists or pop-singers are asked to terminate their profession abruptly?

Still world cups are different. Passions reach fever pitch and average ex-cricketers find the temerity to question colossal giants. Media fuel exits with the same exaggerated care they would a triumph with inane debates and over-the-top obituaries. Fans and media move on with the next game and the next victory but a great career is ended.

Cricket, with its changing fortunes and the many twists and turns, the highs and the lows, heart burns and unbridled joy – often in the same match – is rightly compared to life and its vicissitudes. Retirement is anything but life like. A routine retirement is an occasion where friends and family collate to celebrate the career. Contributions are acknowledged by grateful peers and bosses. In cricket, retirement is often demanded following a high profile exit. Whilst selection is merit oriented and at the discretion of the cricket board, retirement is the individual’s choice. Often, cricketers are pushed into it. Some give in and some retire only to be back very soon after. And some others retire in installments. Whatever the means, it is best left unto the individual.

As with this world cup, this will be the last time truly modern day giants like Tendulkar, Kallis, Muralitharan, Ponting, Jayawardene, Chanderpaul will play in a world cup. All of them would want to go out as world beaters and nothing less. As it might turn out, none of them might be around when it is the finals time on April 2nd. It would hardly count as failure as it is players like them who make cricket invigorating and such a pleasure that you and I worship every minute of it. Their biggest contribution is in leaving the game having inspired millions of others to take to it.

As the world cup gears itself perhaps for its own future in a few days’ time, these great set of players will put on their best performances in the hope of scaling the summit one last time. Cricket will go on with or without them as it should and invariably will. Some won’t get picked after this world cup and selectors and captains are entitled to their judgment. But retirement should be left unto the players themselves. May be, some might announce it a year later from their last competitive game like Sampras did. May be, some won’t. In either case, it is none of our business.

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Comments
  1. Hemanth says:

    Rightly said… its noone but the player who needs to decide when to pull the plug. NONE OF OUR BUSINESS REALLY!!

  2. Prasad Moyarath says:

    I agree with the author, but unlike in the past, the career of an international cricket is controlled by many factors other than cricket like commericial contracts.I personally don’t like to see great cricketers struggling and becoming a burden for the team.When such players don’t realize that they are a burden for the team, cricket lovers will have to call for their retirement.We cannot blame cricket critics for that.Playing for a national team is not a personal business.

  3. binisajan says:

    Our Board has favoured some and ruined the careers of many. Kambli is one example of a talent wasted and career ruined. Kapil Dev, who I consider as India’s greatest champ, was allowed to hang on forever(whether the board wanted him to continue or he wanted to is not known) after he lost his usefulness just in order for an Indian to have the world record. It was of no use, coz its just a number now. Ganguly was also kept past his use by date. And he too tried to hang in there. Now its the turn of others like Laxman and Dravid. In India, where idol worship is at its highest, the players become bigger than the game that the Board forgets its duty to blood youngsters for the future till a few start baying for their blood. When the voices become louder, they start to be dropped and picked. And when the voices are at their loudest then the retirement plan comes into play. Doesn’t seem to be fair at all if these ‘bigger than the game players’ are given a choice. Coz their choice is anyone’s guess. So it would be good if these players move on in full glory before the talks set in or they get replaced.

  4. binisajan says:

    “Their biggest contribution is in leaving the game having inspired millions of others to take to it”. Rightly said Goutham.

  5. […] my view on Tendulkar’s retirement or any retirement for that matter (of which I have already shared my view). This is more about the very headline of the article. While what much of the article […]

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