The days when cricketers would shield their teams from a looming retirement so as to not shake their composure are almost gone. These days, for some high profile cricketers, the decisions about retirement involve more than just their will to play.
Very few players around the world can boast of the luxury of choosing their own swansong. What was once the privilege of the old guard is no longer true for the current generations. Even former captains such as Sourav Ganguly recently touched once more upon the fact that even during the tumultuous period under Greg Chappell’s captaincy when he was dropped, he believed he had a few good years left in him but was forced into retirement.
The retirement agenda in the Indian cricket team has been raised once more over the concern about Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s less than flamboyant batting thus far in the few opportunities that have come his way in England in the course of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
The alarm bells have been ringing for a while. But they were brought to the fore even by former cricketers and critics alike as India seemed to playing a different game when the former Indian captain and current wicketkeeper is batting and when the likes of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli play.
This dichotomy has caused a puzzling dilemma as well as speculation about Dhoni’s impending retirement, yet unannounced in the public sphere. While rumours are rife that Dhoni is on his last legs as far as playing for India are concerned - rumours that gather storm in an event such as the ICC Cricket World Cup several such have been proven wrong in the past.
Sachin Tendulkar himself stayed on after India’s second victory at the ICC Cricket World Cup trophy in 2011. As baffling as it was, the realization of a childhood dream would not be his swansong. Dhoni himself has dodged the bullet several times when as much as after the same triumphant World Cup, as India struggled to come to terms in Test cricket, Dhoni won the battle against a selection panel and continued to stay on in Test cricket as a captain even when there was conjecture that Dhoni had lost the penchant for playing the long game.
While it seems sometimes a case of giving an illustrious cricketer the privilege to choose when he bows out, there is, also, sometimes the case of such cricketers clutching at straws, continuing to believe they are still indispensable to the team. This is not to say Dhoni is past his best. But that he has not fired in the vintage manner in which the world has come to know him has raised some cause for concern as well as leading people to believe that a retirement announcement is being held back so as not to create a farewell circus party around England instead of keeping the focus on the job at hand – winning a third world cup trophy for India.
However, matters are not as easy for high profile players with a prominent face in the limelight. With endorsements, sponsorships and also, part ownership of other teams in other sports leagues at stake, the players continue to be in reckoning more often when they are playing than when they have retired. Prior commitments on the dotted line cannot, also, be ruled out as possibilities for players to sometimes choose uncanny ways to hang up their boots.
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