Dylan Cleaver on sport

Sport analysis and comment from APN's Head of Sport Dylan Cleaver

Dylan Cleaver: SBW could learn from Sachin

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As a Hindu, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar knows the universe is a complex place, that actions taken in this world have consequences in the next.

As a superstar, life is a lot simpler for Sonny Bill Williams; he knows the universe revolves around him.

It was a big week for SBW and SRT. SBW won a grand final, blew off the Chiefs and killed the dream of Tohu Harris. But that's nothing compared to SRT: he only killed the hopes of 1.2 billion Indians who dreamed he would play forever (and the hopes of this writer, who was planning on watching him bat in the flesh one last time).

On Tuesday, Williams tweeted a good luck message to the Kiwis, as he prepared to take some time to "chill out" with family. Sensing that the Kiwis and perhaps life itself would continue without him, he changed his mind and all matter, including a willing media (hey, Sonny sells), was sucked back into his gravitational pull.

On Thursday, Tendulkar announced he would be retiring after the two-test series against the West Indies next month. He did it in more than 140 characters. He did it with dignity.

"All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India. I have been living this dream every day for the last 24 years. It's hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because it's all I have ever done since I was 11 years old.

It's been a huge honour to have represented my country and played all over the world."

As prepared statements go, it would have been easy to write but difficult to sign off on. Still, it's dead easy to believe every single world of it.

Then there's this.

"After having some time to really think about how much representing my country means to me, I decided to then put my name forward for [Kiwis] selection."

Is he genuine? Possibly, but that's the great shame; does anybody truly believe anything SBW says these days?

It seems that everything he does, from his toe-curling at-home-with-Gus Gould piece of puffery for Channel Nine, or his for-the-cameras meeting with the Chiefs on Thursday, is contrived and calculated.

Does he even write his own scripts, or is he a pawn in someone else's game? (True story; On the All Blacks tour to the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2010, the All Blacks were arranging homebound travel. SBW was asked what he was doing following the final test against Wales at Cardiff. "I'm not sure, you'll have to check with my manager," said Sonny. "I don't deal with agents, I deal with athletes," the All Blacks' logistics man said. "I don't know what I'm doing," Williams repeated.)

If Tendulkar has a manager, and he probably has several, they have never courted publicity or controversy like Khoder Nasser. There's never been any doubt that Sachin controls Sachin's world. He has power and influence, probably more than is healthy, but it's hard to think of an occasion he has used it for vanity projects.

"Sachin is still the same person I saw in 1989. That's his greatness, not just as a cricketer but as a human being," said former team-mate Kris Srikkanth this week. Yes, it's said for effect but it is at least plausible.

Even those who hate Williams - and after this week's schemozzle it's a (sadly) rapidly growing club - would concede he is a magnificent athlete, one of the most gifted rugby players, both varieties, of his or any era. But he's always wanted more - he's always wanted to leave behind a body of work that is unique and revered.

SBW wants to leave a legacy. He's already ensured himself of that. However, if he wants to leave one without taint, he needs to take a leaf out of the book of SRT.

- Herald on Sunday

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