If Sachin Tendulkar is God in India, and cricket is religion, his critics are the Atheists, always claiming that there must be some Science to explain the miraculous feats this “mere mortal” has achieved. It has been proposed by some that these critics comprise the “90%” Justice Katju was talking about the other day. Lending weight to this proposition, the critics have slammed Sachin’s decision to retire and said, “Tendulkar must be after political aspirations in the Rajya Sabha, after giving up on his lifelong dream of a career in advertisement industry.”
They have done so in the past too. So what if he continued to bat in a blood-soaked shirt after being hit on the mouth by a Waqar Younis delivery on his debut! “He hasn’t bled for the Indian shirt enough,” if these critics are to be believed. It does not matter that in the late ’90s, Tendulkar accounted for 90 percent of India’s batting line-up; he would still be ridiculed “for getting out and leaving the other 10 percent exposed!” Did he score a double century in the ODIs? Well, “he should have scored more of those,” nonchalantly said the non-believers.
At Sharjah, he fought valiantly like a warrior and scored back to back centuries against Australia, yet it was not enough to win over these so-called cricket experts, who claimed “there was far too much space between his bat and pad”. He plays the IPL for Mumbai Indians? “It must have nothing to do with his passion for playing the smaller version of the game, it must be the money; hell, it must be the cheerleaders,” they said. As if he was running short of cash! Sachin’s upper-cut six off Shoaib Akhtar must be etched in the memory of cricket fans all over, yet the same old critics sprung to the conclusion that “it was a thick outside edge”!
Shane Warne had once claimed that Sachin haunts him even in his dreams; is that possible for a normal man? But Sanjay Manjrekar, a vociferous Sachin critic in the past, seems to think so. He says, “Even I have haunted many bowlers in their dreams in the past… in my dreams. So what if they were from the Ranji teams; they count too!” Navjot Singh Sidhu also had something to say on the matter, but it was too much beyond our comprehension to be published here. Among others, Daddaji, a die-hard cricket fan from a joint family of Varanasi has said, “Ye Sachin nervous ho jata hai. Zarur nervous ho kar hi retire hua hai!”
Meanwhile, Tendulkar himself has thanked his critics with elegance and grace reminiscent of his straight drives, “It would not have been possible for me to reach this place without the support of my critics, who’ve been nothing short of exemplary in their performance. It is their job to criticize, to shut them up is mine! They have pushed me to the limits with their whims and demands, I just feel honoured that they’ve had to eat their words more times than I’ve played the paddle-sweep in my career. Besides, I have always had the support of those who matter.”