Living with the word "retirement" hanging over your head is an unwanted burden you carry when you are into your late thirties. I remember battling away, trying to grind out a few more runs. I finally threw in the towel at 38, but for the three years before that, every season seemed to be greeted with articles circling around topics like 'we might have seen the last of him'. This was in New Zealand; in India multiply those numbers of articles by at least a few hundred or so.
Any failure - in my case there were a few - was greeted with mixed reactions, from kind to downright disdainful. The big difference for me was those lean days had seemed to be part of the show. To a cricketer, those articles are nothing more than a distraction. Or in Kiwi slang just a pain in the proverbial!
Retirement is a personal thing. You've played and fought for your team with every sinew and ounce of effort. With pride and determination for so many years; through good times and the bad, through personal triumphs and milestones and met victory and defeat on a daily basis.
A sporting career of excellence is built on several pillars. A deep love of the game and the delight you derive from competing and testing yourself against the best. For a champion, those inner drivers are your constant companions. They are with you from the start till the end. Through self-analysis and critique, it is these basic tools that begin to weigh upon a champion's mind. And help him reach a decision.
It's difficult to be objective in the case I am talking about. I worked alongside Sachin as head coach for nearly five years. But I don't care a hoot that he has been bowled thrice. He will know when it is time for him to exit the stage before someone decides to push him off it. The only thing the selectors should be worried about is this: Who is going to to replace him?
360 Corporate Relations. Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.