24th April, 1973: This day is etched in every Indian’s mind as on this day a certain individual by the name of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar was born. And, the rest, they say is history. We all know about Sachin Tendulkar’s unprecedented feats and records and how he is treated like a god even after retiring from the game. Sachin Tendulkar is a phenomenon, but at the end of the day, he is also a human and his career has also faced some not so shiny moments.
1. Sachin Tendulkar’s not so great captaincy record:
Sachin Tendulkar made his debut for India at the age of 16 and it was given that he would captain India during his career. Tendulkar was a genius when it came to batting and people had this expectation that he would be a terrific leader. But handling people and managing different personalities is not everyone’s cup of tea and Tendulkar didn’t become a great or successful captain. The master blaster had an introvert kind of personality and that restricted him from being direct or blunt with his players. In a couple of stints, Sachin led India quite disappointingly. In Test matches his record was four wins out of 25 matches and in ODIs, it was 23 wins out of 73 matches.
Tendulkar was not a born leader and, later in his career, he captained Mumbai Indians in the IPL without much success. Captaincy proved a difficult task for India’s run machine.
2. Sachin not taking a stand during match-fixing saga:
Cricket is treated like a religion in India and many innocent fans even give their lives if India loses a single match. During 2000, cricket was rocked by match-fixing saga and many people during that time didn’t even know what match-fixing is. Tendulkar, who was a star player for India, till now maintains that he was not aware about this and had no idea about alleged match-fixing happening under Mohammad Azharuddin and was only concentrating on cricket.
This news shocked many people and cricket’s credibility took a serious hit amid all these developments. Tendulkar has time and again said that he had no idea about it (his autobiography, docu-drama film), and it sounds quite strange that someone of the stature of Tendulkar didn’t know what was happening inside four walls of the dressing room.
3. SRT as an MP not living up to expectations:
Sachin Tendulkar’s life is nothing short of a miracle and in 2012, while still playing active cricket, got the biggest honour of becoming Member of Parliament from India’s upper house i.e. Rajya Sabha. The batting maestro in April 2012 accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination proposed by the President of India (then Pranab Mukherjee) and became the first active sportsperson and cricketer to have been nominated.
It was a watershed moment for Indian sports in general, but amid great excitement and buzz, the little master did not live up to the lofty expectations and on various factors such as attendance, asking questions or bringing private member bills, his track record was below par and quite poor.
Tendulkar might not be a great orator or a vocal MP, but in hindsight accepting the nomination was a mistake. One time he did stand up to raise an issue, he was shouted down by fellow members and that would be Sachin’s lasting image as an MP.
4. Sachin’s Ferrari controversy:
Hello! Sachin Tendulkar is human and even he makes mistakes. Tendulkar’s life has seen very few controversies and indiscretions, but after all, he is allowed to have a weak moment. The whole Ferrari controversy made national headlines and it was not a good press for Mr Tendulkar.
The whole row started when little master acquired the Ferrari 360 Modena in controversial circumstances in 2002. Fiat, the Italian owner of Ferrari, gifted the car to the cricketer, its brand ambassador when he equalled the record of 29 Test centuries by Australian legend Don Bradman. When the government tried to exempt Tendulkar from paying import duty of Rs 1.1 crore (120% the value of the car), there was fury. Finally, Fiat agreed to pony up the cash. Then Tendulkar sold his Ferrari to Jayesh Desai, a Surat businessman who is one of the promoters of the Rajhans Group that has interests in textiles, multiplexes, and real estate.
The said car was handed to Tendulkar by Michael Schumacher, the seven-time world Formula One racing champion. Desai declined to talk about his relationship with Tendulkar, how much he paid for the car, or how he bought it. Tendulkar again didn’t speak much about this episode.
5. Sachin playing for records and his and India’s wait for the 100th century:
Sachin Tendulkar’s name is synonymous with records and milestones. Tendulkar, during the course of his 24-year career, broke many records and there was a perception in the media that Sachin is obsessed with hundreds at the cost of India’s win and is not a team player. Tendulkar might have sometimes unknowingly played for the milestones but couldn’t be accused of selfish play.
Sachin played in the era when Indian batting was very weak and scored his first double century in Test cricket after 10 years. Sachin was also accused of not scoring in the fourth innings in Test matches and also not firing during crunch matches (2003 World Cup final vs Australia, 2007 World Cup, 2011 World Cup final vs Sri Lanka).
Another episode that became a soap opera was Tendulkar’s wait for the elusive 100th century. Sachin scored his 98th and 99th during 2011 World Cup, but that 100th ton took close to a year and it finally happened against Bangladesh in 2012 during Asia cup match, which India lost. Sachin’s last Test hundred was in January 2011 against South Africa at Cape Town and he didn’t score any Test hundred after that.
Sachin Tendulkar also received a lot of flak for not retiring after 2011 World Cup and, truth to be told, he should have because his performance suffered after that and if he would have retired on a high, then his prestige and class would have been unparalleled and unmatchable.