While I did not watch much of the IPL, I followed with keen interest the different debates that were taking place regarding the injury suffered by Gautam Gambhir. Different opinions were given by different people. Bishen Bedi suggested that this was the classic example of financial power taking over the world of cricket. Kapil Dev suggested that at the end of the day it was the players own choice. Arun Lal suggested that this was a sign of the times that we were living in. Times Now ran a campaign for three days which virtually projected that Gautam Gambhir had committed an act of treason.
It was therefore very interesting to note that not many people said anything when Sachin Tendulkar decided to skip the entire West Indies tour to be with his family. Now Tendulkar has done admirable service for the country for the last twenty years and if anybody deserves a break it should be him. But he could have had his break from April 2 to May 28 when India was not playing any cricket. Instead he opted to play for Mumbai Indians, a franchise owned by the biggest corporate house in India which to which he is contracted for a large sum of money.
There is a big difference Gambhir’s case and Tendulkar’s case. Gautam Gambhir is injured and has been advised 6 weeks rest by the physio. Tendulkar is completely fit. If Gambhir was not injured, he would have played the IPL and gone to the West Indies. Tendulkar irrespective of injury or not was going to play in the IPL and never going to go to the West Indies.
People might turn around and say that Tendulkar has given his all for the country for the last twenty years and he deserves to given some leeway. Absolutely. No problem in that. But if he needed to take a break why not take a break when you are supposed to be playing for the Mumbai Indians? Why play in a domestic t20 tournament for 8 weeks and then skip test matches. The way I see it is that Tendulkar after a very hectic season, decided to play for the Mumbai Indians with a view of going on a holiday when the Indian team was going to play.
There is also a bigger question of the double standards of the Indian media. It seems that the Indian media judges different people with different standards. Tendulkar seems to be immune to all criticism. Moreover anybody who dares to criticize him is castigated. A few years ago when Sanjay Manjrekar suggested that Tendulkar’s fitness levels had dropped, he was absolutely torn by the media. Some former players called him selfish while other said that he was jealous of Tendulkar’s success. Manjrekar may have been right or may have been totally wrong but surely he was entitled to his opinion. And after the 2007 World Cup, when Ian Chapell said that Tendulkar need to change his outlook towards the game or retire, one of world’s finest cricket analysts was pilloried in the Indian media.
To my mind if the BCCI is unhappy about Gautam Gambhir opting out of the tour due to injury, then it should also be unhappy about Tendulkar’s decision. No matter how great a player is, the rules should be the same for everyone.