Blog by: Rohinee
As iconic as it has been, Sachin Tendulkar’s career has nonetheless seen quite a few ups and downs. Amongst these, the issue of captaincy has perhaps been the most prominent one, surprising one and all as one cricketing facet that Tendulkar was never able to master completely.
The two separate stints of captaincy at the international level may have ended the same way – with Tendulkar tendering his resignation to the disappointment of scores of his fans. But fact remains that the world got to see a different shade of Tendulkar’s professionalism in the wake of these disappointing trajectories. These insurmountable challenges didn’t take the sheen away from his persona but highlighted his humility far more brilliantly.
Both times that Tendulkar took on the mantle of captaincy; the cricketing fortunes of the nation were reeling under tremendous pressure. It came as no surprise then, that the people expected him to be the deliverance on the captaincy front just as they were used to him being the team’s rescuer at all other times of need. But where Tendulkar was able to step up to the challenge of staving off defeat on countless occasions, he seemed to be equally at loss when it came to addressing certain aspects of the team as a captain.
Not that his performance suffered though. On the contrary, his personal cricketing statistics were raised to impeccable standards. A paradox considering that even as his own, individual performances were enhanced, the team’s presentations dwindled reaching new lows that not even he could manage to salvage. There again, despite these frustrating losses, it was quite obvious that as a captain, Sachin wasn’t one to throw his weight around or go on about blaming everyone for the team’s losses. Rather, he ended up being one of those captains who shouldered the entire responsibility of all losses that the team suffered, tendering his resignation – on both occasions – without pausing to think about holding on to the title.
The ease with which he was ready to play under someone else – more specifically in the wake of his second retirement under a relative newcomer as compared to him – exemplified his prioritisation skills tremendously. His maturity shone through again, as he showed extreme prudence in stepping aside from being the captain before the position and the title could engulf him and his reputation as one of the finest cricketers.
Very few cricketers have been there in the history of the sport who have been able to navigate successfully through the pitfall that captaincy represents. Just as that, there are very few cricketers who are able to separate their set of priorities when it comes to the issue of captaincy. Many senior players – from across cricketing nations – have brought out their conflicts with other team members into the open when it has come to the subject of captaincy, which has left their fans reeling with shock and distaste. In Sachin’s case, his ability to understand his shortcomings as the team’s leader proved instrumental in ensuring the team’s balance despite the external problems that were otherwise overshadowing it.
Sachin’s timely gauged decision to step away as the captain also removed any doubts that sceptics had about his intentions. The aspersions that were cast about him shirking his responsibility and being an opportunistic cricketer were silenced for good as things slowly returned to normalcy. Especially more so, in the new millennium, as Sourav Ganguly became the team’s new captain and Sachin once again restored to his pride of place as one of the most senior members of the squad.
Never a player to covet laurels, when again offered the post of the captain when chaos once again loomed over the bastion of the Indian cricketing ranks, Sachin’s lack of reluctance to recommend a youngster’s – Dhoni’s – name for the post was not at all surprising.
By being staunch to his beliefs and by refusing to accept the tempting hand, as alluring as it was made out to be, Tendulkar brought out yet another facet of greatness by showing everyone that a true leader doesn’t need a formal title or tag. But is someone who leads by example, mentoring the younger generation and asking nothing in return. Sachin Tendulkar is a captain like none other in that regard; a true leader who deserves all the outpouring of respect and awe that’s been coming his way, and then some more.