Dubai: Sporting legends are often afraid to talk about retirement, it is anathema. They will fight against their senses. They will push back the weariness and detachment from their souls, hustle and talk up their energy levels, summoning extra motivation to overwhelm the ghosts of age that creep up upon them. They look for avenues to take refuge in to justify their decision to quit, if and when they decide that the time is nigh.
It is a dilemma that, perhaps, Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar must be going through whenever he wakes up, or walks in to bat for India in the home stretch of his career.
“The important stage of Sachin’s career is over,” stated retired legend Kapil Dev to Gulf News. “He is now at the end of his career and one should appreciate that he’s not going to play the way he used to. Even if he scored three consecutive centuries my thoughts won’t change about him. One has to know that age is not just a number. It doesn’t matter how much passion you have, you cannot stay so long as to block the progress of others. This is not just about Sachin, but life in general.
“Sachin can be a great ambassador of the game like Sourav [Ganguly], [Anil] Kumble and [Rahul] Dravid. In order to get the best out of your retirement you can give back after it as well. So I say that Sachin must move on and beautiful things will happen to him. I wish him luck, comfort and happiness because he has given so much to us that it is unbelievable and unparalleled. But he must move on.”
“If you have other things going on in your life, then retirement is not so difficult,” reasoned Kapil. “The word retirement is a painful phrase. I used to feel it when people used to refer to me as ‘retired Kapil Dev’ at the age of 35.
“I tried to justify myself saying ‘look I am still young. Yes, I have retired from cricket’, but the word still hits you. It doesn’t give you a nice feeling because throughout your life you have been given to believe that retired people normally take a back seat. So I didn’t know how to adjust to that mindset. I was young enough to do anything in life after my retirement. Everybody has their own way of thinking.”
“There is another beautiful life waiting to happen,” he added. “So what you need to do is move on. You have to move on in life.”
It is a theory that could have been offered to so many Indian cricketers who saw the writing on the wall but refused to bid adieu to the game that defined their lives. Some had no idea of what life was like without it.
Dev believes the title of India’s “Cricketer of the Century”, bestowed upon him by Wisden in 2002, should be given to Tendulkar. “Absolutely and without any doubt to Sachin. There is no comparison with what he has done for Indian cricket, or even towards sport itself. I won’t even compare anybody with him.” he said.
Kapil Dev factfile
Full name: Kapil Dev Ramlal Nikhanj
Date of birth: January 6, 1959 (age 54)
Place of birth: Chandigarh, Punjab, India
Playing career: All-rounder (right-handed bat, right arm fast medium bowler) 1975-1992
First class teams: Haryana, Worcestershire, Northamptonshire
Achievements: Captained India to 1983 World Cup win; named Wisden’s Indian Cricketer of the Century in 2002; had a brief spell as India’s head coach in 1999/2000
Tests: 131 matches, 5,248 runs (31.05 average), 434 wickets (29.64 average)
ODIs: 225 matches, 3,783 runs (23.79), 253 wickets (27.45)
First class: 275 matches, 11,356 runs (32.91), 835 wickets (27.09)