Crank’s News: New record awaits Sachin

Also: Afridi’s advice to Tendulkar

Mumbai: Amidst growing chorus for his retirement, Sachin Tendulkar is all set to become the first cricket player in the world to get pension benefits even while playing active cricket.

The BCCI’s working committee, which met here this morning, formally approved a proposal to this effect.

‘We cannot hold back his pension benefits based on the trivial technicality that he is not officially retired yet. He is nearing 40 and is fully eligible for the pension,’ BCCI vice president Rajiv Shukla told newsmen after the meeting. ‘Just because he is delaying his retirement decision, it doesn’t mean we have to delay paying pension to him. It is not the right way to treat a cricketing legend’.

Shukla clarified that Tendulkar would continue to be paid the regular fees and other allowances for the matches he plays.

‘If it comes to that, we are also ready to pay Tendulkar selectors’ salary because these days it is Tendulkar himself who decides which matches he is picked for and for which he needs to be dropped,’ Shukla said.

Elsewhere, giving technical insights into Tendulkar’s recent dismissals (by getting bowled), cricket writer Mukul Kesavan said Tendulkar has always had difficulty against balls that ‘jagged back in’.

In the early days of his career, Tendulkar realised fast bowlers brought the ball back (into the batsman) by making use of the hazy conditions. ‘But Tendulkar quickly figured out that the conditions looked hazy because people were watching it on Doordarshan,’ Kesavan, who is a historian too, wrote in his weekly column.  ‘Tendulkar’s agent Mark Mascarenhas quickly formed WorldTel and bought television telecast rights and ensured that hazy conditions were never visible again for bowlers to exploit. And with that began the legend of Tendulkar’.

But Kesavan also said the media are barking up the wrong tree in demanding Tendulkar’s retirement. ‘Poor scores or not, it is only fair that any decision on Tendulkar’s retirement, especially in one-day cricket, be taken by the man himself.  But we as involved stakeholders in the game, have every reason and right to demand the retirement of one-day cricket itself’.

Stating that the only thing that it is still interesting about ODIs is that somebody like Tendulkar continues to play them, Kesavan said if he (Tendulkar) retired, the ODIs would become even more boring. ‘The ODIs must do the honourable thing of retiring before Tendulkar does.’

Meanwhile, Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi has said that there was no point in Tendulkar putting off his retirement any more. ‘The one lesson I have learnt in my international career is when the time is up, you have to gracefully retire and, well, continue playing,’ Afridi was quoted as saying in Express Tribune. ‘By this strategy, you shut down your critics totally, while you can, at peace, focus on your career and also retire again and again and silence more and more detractors’.

Afridi pointed out that it was a major misconception to think that when a person retires he has to stop playing cricket. ‘If that had been case I should have stopped playing international cricket at least 28 times now’.

Afridi also said that he had plans of launching a retirement academy, which would provide training to international cricketers on how to retire successfully without in anyway quitting the game. ‘Pakistan has a great tradition in this aspect. For instance, Zulqarnain Haider, who officially retired in 2010, is unhappy that the selectors keep overlooking him in favour of Kamran Akmal’.

Elsewhere in India, a new book, which is a compendium of articles and features written over the years by experts and leading journalists seeking Tendulkar’s retirement, is all set to hit the market to cash in on the current craze.

The book contains articles from 2003 when the first shout for Tendulkar’s retirement was heard in the aftermath of India’s high of making it to the finals of that year’s World Cup. After a lull, it again picked up steam in 2007, when perceptive critics like Tony Greig suggested that one-day cricket was metamorphosing into a game of able-bodied youngsters and fleet-footed batsmen like Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthick (who were in the 2007 WC Indian squad), and oldies like Tendulkar would find themselves exposed.

Titled Steal Timelessness, the book has an interesting foreword by Ravi Shastri, who says Tendulkar is timeless like the language. ‘Words don’t retire. Idioms don’t call it a day. Phrases don’t hang their boots. Sentences don’t throw in the towel. They all just end up as clichés. Or at least I ensure that they become ones,’ Shastri wrote in his foreword.

‘Even today when Tendulkar, after over 21 years of international cricket under his belt, plays, stadiums are packed to the rafters, which is remarkable when you consider the fact that Rafter is a tennis player who retired in 2002’.

‘I get the feeling that the fat lady is not ready to sing on Tendulkar’s career. At any rate, she can only dance. Because the fat lady in question is Farah Khan’, Shastri wrote perspicaciously.

Last heard, Steal Timelessness had moved to the top of cricket bestsellers list dislodging Timeless Steel, which was a book on Rahul Dravid after his retirement.

(Disclaimer: Only ‘slack-hand humans retire’ but not ‘Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar’,  who still has it in him to last an entire term)

(Disclaimer 2: If you have already noticed that ‘slack-hand humans retire’ is an anagram of ‘ Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar’ you can skip this disclaimer)   

(Disclaimer 3: But did you still notice that ‘entire term’ could be rearranged to get retirement’?)