LEGENDARY Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar’s fall from grace in the ongoing cricket series against England has not only dismayed millions of his fans across the world but has also compelled critics to ask him to hang up his boots. Rated as perhaps the greatest post-war batsman, Tendulkar has been a picture of misery in the four-match series, struggling to put together a decent score against an opposition which by no means can be dubbed as menacing for a player of his class and stature. His rare but continued failure with the bat in 2012, both at home and abroad, has drawn boos and jeers from the crowds, even in places like Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Nagpur where he has been revered as a demigod since making his international debut 24 years ago. His former colleagues Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and a few others have openly criticised him for not looking the part anymore, mainly due to his slow reflexes and poor shot selection.
But Tendulkar is certainly not the first Asian batsman to face this unpleasant situation. A number of great players before him, including compatriots Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, our own Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram and Zaheer Abbas, and several others have been forced out of cricket after repeated failures or have simply faded into history after refusing to quit the game at the right moment. It was only recently that one of Australia’s most successful captains and batsmen, Ricky Ponting, retired after realising that he could no longer cope with the rigours of international cricket. Tendulkar, unfortunately, has not been able to choose his departing moment and must now be ruing the blunder of not having called it a day in March 2011 when India won the ICC Cricket World Cup.