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Is Sachin Tendulkar hiding something on match-fixing?

By not talking about match-fixing and chucking, one can’t help feel disappointed by the world class cricket player.

S Kannan

It has been four maddening days for Sachin Tendulkar fans world over. From the time the world’s most celebrated cricketer revealed small nuggets on coach/”dictator” Greg Chappell to the launch of his biography Playing it My Way on November 5, Tendulkar has given many “exclusive” interviews to cricket writers. One wonders whether there’s any point reading his book now?

I must say by and large it has been worth my while following the sheer passion with which Tendulkar has spoken on a whole gamut of topics and issues regarding his life and career as India’s most celebrated sportsman. Even though some of the questions asked him to have been extremely banal and the answers equally boring.

One well-known cricket writer asked him how long did it take you to put the book together. “Three years,” Tendulkar replied. “I come from a literary family… and since so many books have been written about me… I thought I should now write one myself. I’ve written about things the way I saw them and I have not been a loose cannon. I’ve written about happenings which can be substantiated, which can be backed up.” In another interview, Tendulkar said: “I think whatever things I knew 100 per cent, I have revealed it all [in the book]. I can back those things up. But it will be unwise to comment on things which I am not fully aware of.”

As a Sachin Tendulkar fan and journalist, I would have been thrilled if the iconic Bharat Ratna and Rajya Sabha member of Parliament had come clean and written at least one paragraph on a subject he has never been frank about. All we know is that just like some people don’t believe in ghosts, Tendulkar does not believe that “fixing” took place at all.

“I do not believe that matches are fixed or can be fixed… Within my knowledge, no match has ever been fixed. I never got the feeling that any of my teammates deliberately played a bad shot to get out,” said Tendulkar, according to excerpts from the report of the YV Chandrachud Committee into allegations of betting and match-fixing involving top players levelled by former Test player Manoj Prabhakar. This too was recorded in 1997.

Then again, Tendulkar knows very well when the Hansie Cronje scandal broke out in 2000 and some Indian cricketers were “caught and bowled” by the Delhi Police, he was very much part of Team India. Not just that, Tendulkar was also Indian team captain, a period in which he was not satisfied with the performance of the team. People even asked him if some players had underperformed.

“I cannot ever say that some players underperformed when I was captain,” he told a journalist. “I have never believed in criticising the players I have played with. If you go back and look at the scoreboard, that will give a lot of explanations. It will be unfair to just pinpoint someone and say he was underperforming. I can’t do that. I have played the sport for 24 years and failure does happen.”

What Tendulkar has done by not speaking on such a huge topic is unjustified. In his playing days, he never took a stand. At least post retirement he should have expressed something from his heart on match fixing and spot fixing. As someone who has played the highest level of cricket for close to two and a half decades, if he was not 100 per cent sure about a subject like this, it looks he’s hiding something.

Without mirch masala and tadka, if Tendulkar had even talked of unfair practices existing in the sport, we would have been happy, or at least felt satisfied that he has some opinion. Either Tendulkar has refrained from writing on these subjects because he’s hiding something or it is that he wants to have some material left for his next book. You decide.

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