For almost every cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar is a man worth emulating. Nine years ago, Tendulkar set a precedent that is not laudable — he put club, Mumbai Indians, over country, India. He opted out of the tour of West Indies in 2011 because he “wanted to spend more time with his family”. But before that, immediately after India won the World Cup that year, Tendulkar figured in all 16 matches Mumbai Indians played in the IPL. In the heat of April-May, and despite hectic travels across India, he did not rest — and then skipped the national team’s tour.
The Rohit Sharma episode pushes to the fore the old club vs country debate. Sharma has opted to return to play for Mumbai Indians after sustaining a hamstring injury — despite being ruled out of India’s tour of Australia, which begins later this month, due to the same injury!
Sharma suffered the injury in the match against Kings XI Punjab on October 18. Five days later, Mumbai Indians disclosed that he had “suffered left leg hamstring strain”, adding the club management was “taking one day at a time monitoring the recovery process in consultancy with BCCI”.
Sharma, the Mumbai Indians captain, missed the next two matches — the win over Chennai Super Kings (October 23) and the loss to Rajasthan Royals (October 25) — due to the injury. On October 26, the Indian squads for the tour of Australia were announced. BCCI did not explain why Sharma was missing from the squad — the press statement merely stated that “BCCI Medical Team will continue to monitor the progress of Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma”.
On November 3, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said Rohit Sharma had suffered a hamstring tear. “You don’t want him to get injured again. He has a hamstring tear and it will get ruptured again. It will then take longer for him to come back. But yes, there are people working with him. The Mumbai Indians physio is working with him. The Indian physio (Nitin Patel) is there,” Ganguly said. Clearly, Ganguly, the big boss, wanted Sharma to relax and not take a chance.
Yet, the very same evening, Sharma walked out for toss in the team’s final group stage match, against Sunrisers Hyderabad! When asked if everything was “fit and fine with you”, he said: “Yeah, looks like that.” After his team lost, he was asked if his hamstring was fine, and he said: “Yeah, absolutely.”
Have Ganguly and the selectors been kept in the dark?
If Sharma’s hamstring is mended, should not he be part of India’s squads for tough assignment in Australia, as a very important member of the national squad? Or is he merely walking in the footsteps of his idol, Tendulkar, who put club over country back in 2011?