Make no mistake about it. Sachin Tendulkar has served this country admirably. He has given up everything for the country in two odd decades and was one of the rare players who refused to go to the IPL parties.
Everyone considers him an all-time great. The only debate is on whether he is the greatest or not.
No-one doubts his dedication. No-one doubts his commitment. He has practiced on optional net days and still runs between the wickets like a 16-year-old. But then, as the cliche goes, all good things come to an end.
The time has come when he has to show the grace of his team-mate Rahul Dravid and call it a day from the ODI arena.
Tendulkar keeps a straight face after historic feat
As time passes by, Sachin is looking more and more jaded and the last year he has been just a shadow of his former self.
Whenever Sachin hits a ton we lose...
There is a cruel myth perpetrated by his critics that India loses whenever he makes a century. World Cup 2011 showed up some interesting statistics. Sachin made two centuries in the tournament and those are the only two matches we failed to win.
Sachin did not make a century in seven matches and we won all seven! That’s a cent per cent myth upholding rate!
Now also after we walloped Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup, no-one can deny that Sachin scored a really slow innings against Bangladesh. Suresh Raina hit 51 off 38 balls. MS Dhoni hit 21 off 11. Towards the end of the innings, Shakib Al Hasan hit 49 off 31 and Mushfiqur Rahim hit 46 off 25.
Such was the pitch. In this background an all-time great like Sachin scoring a slow 114 off 147 defies logic. He got himself into position to accelerate, but that never really happened. Instead we witnessed nervous 80s along with the nervous 90s.
Sachin was one of the weakest links in our freakish loss to Bangladesh.
Had he retired after the World Cup, then everything would have been brushed under the carpet, but that he has chosen to hang around is the first time when so many people are speaking against the great.
A slow decline...
The decline probably started in the World Cup final. In a record final chase, Sachin just scored 18 runs. This was better than the 2003 final where he failed to reach double digits.
What can be greater that winning a world cup? And that too at an age when most contemporaries have already retired? One wonders why Sachin hung on despite what would have been an outright brilliant end to his brilliant career.
In between the World Cup semi-final where he was adjudged man of the match and the Bangladesh century, Sachin scored 167 runs in nine matches at an average of 18.6. For the first time in his life, he did not merit a place in the team.
And it does not help the team cause when you pick and choose what matches you want to play, a luxury very few people have had in the long history of cricket.
And when he finally hit a century to come into form, it was a tad bit slow and led to a loss. That has got to rankle big time.
He may still help us lift the Asia Cup, but that is beside the point. It is time for India to give a total free reign to youngsters in the ODI scene with an eye to the 2015 World Cup and let Sachin continue to play in Tests where he still has a lot to offer.
No end to records...
Now that the 100th 100 is out of the way, what next? The 50th ODI century!
Once that is out of the way, what next? The 100th ODI 50!
Once that is out of the way, what next? 20,000 ODI runs!
Once that is out of the way...
There is really no end to such records and we can keep going on till ad infinitum.
He may as well play in the 2015 World Cup too.
If he is not planning to do that then it is better that he gracefully calls it a day.
While, I like every other Indian cricket fan, loves the spectacle of an India accumulating records non-stop, there comes a time when that too should come to an end.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/