Why it is hard to say goodbye

For a sportsperson, it may be humiliating to see the last rites being done on his playing days.

Sports has never had a fixed retirement age.

One of the most difficult decisions for sportsmen is when to retire. Two legends of their respective sports, Roger Federer and Sachin Tendulkar, are both at a stage when the world is questioning their ability.

Both have impeccable reputations and have achieved feats that go far beyond one’s imagination. They have been the favourites of the crowd, have always displayed sporting spirit, and have been admired by one and all.

The recent success of Lleyton Hewitt and Leander Paes at the US Open must have given the self-belief to both these legends that they can sustain their careers for a little while longer.

The two-Test series against the West Indies to mark the 200-Test milestone for Tendulkar has ignited an unnecessary debate. The BCCI seems to be preparing for a rousing farewell for the God of Indian cricket.

Along with the Master Blaster, we now have a situation where many of the past heroes like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan are also on the cusp of retirement.

In the present times, age cannot be a crucial factor. A 40-year-old of an earlier generation is now at least 10 years younger due to the advancement in modern medicine, food and fitness regimes.

Sports has never had a fixed retirement age.

The life of a cricketer, from his early days, has the goal to excel at the sport. All of them have their ups and downs and plenty of hard work, dedication and will power.

The fans get into the act much later and therefore, do not understand the blood, sweat and tears that go into the psyche of a sportsperson.

Tendulkar and the last of his fellow Mohicans are the breed of the new Gen Y. They are not scared of being dropped or sidelined. They know how important it is for them to remain in the game for personal and financial gains. Out of sight is out of mind and these glamourous heroes have become used to fame, glory and oodles of adulation.

They know that life for them can never be the same again and so the comfort of what they are trained and skilled at weighs far greater than the uncertainty ahead.

Therefore, creating burial grounds would be most humiliating for such individuals. My wish would be for Tendulkar to get a double hundred rather than a double century of Tests as an occasion for celebration.

(The writer is a former Test cricketer)


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