Thursday, November 14, 2013

38 Not Out, or Sachin's Last Stand

As of the time of this writing, Sachin Tendulkar is 38 not out. By the time I am finished and it is posted, he may be out, or he may have a century.

Neither one of those possibilities would matter in the least to what I have to say on the subject of Sachin's retirement after this match.

Many more knowledgable and respected writers than I (or, is that me?) have written on the legend and phenomenon that is Sachin Tendulkar. His career and impact have been dissected ad nauseum. So I will make my little contribution the discussion rather short.

As I said above, what he does in this final Test match matters very little to me, although it seems like the world is willing him to make one final century. But, what if he falls short? What if he is out on, say, 38? Will it make us respect him more? Detract from his accomplishments? Make him any any less Sachin? Did Bradman's final innings duck make him any less a legend and hero?

To me Sachin's final appearance is a bit of an anti-climax. Because his impact is above one innings. He has defied the gravity of the cricketing universe, much as Michael Jordan did with the NBA. Jordan has famously said he failed more than he succeeded...missed many more shots that he made. Sachin has failed many times and may fail when he strides out again in this final match. But the impact will still be there. The records. The inspiration to more than one generation of fans. The impact on other cricketers.

In fact, it might be fitting if Sachin either does fail, or perhaps retires when he gets to his century and strides off into the sunset, head held high. Because, althugh in one sense he has eclipsed the game of cricket, really he is not bigger than cricket. What a fitting tribute to the sport he has loved and done so much for if, after elegantly cover-driving his way to a century, he lifts his helmet and retires not out.

But even if he is out first ball on this new day, in my mind he will still be retiring not out.

Because among all the other accomplishments and strengths, the one which has my utmost respect is this: He is a sportsman and a gentleman who always has—for me, at least—epitomized the spirit of cricket. In this day and age, that says something.

In fact, if he had accomplished half of what he has, I'd still respect and honor him because of that.

Regardless of stats, we need more like him.

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