Perfect timing -- with a bat or with a stick -- always draws applause and claps, for that silken glorious cover drive or from a incisive through pass perfectly deflected home. But for some reasons, those who perfected the "art" of timing with the bat or with the stick, somehow fail to recognise the "science" or perfect time of kissing that bat or the stick one last time and bid adieu to the sport they lived and loved so much.
In Indian sports, even the greats and the legends fail to perfect their timing of retirement and drag on and on and on. The ability to understand that their time is up or its time to hang up the boots somehow remained alien to their senses.
But for Sardara Singh, the former India captain, it was not an illusion. Arguably one of India's finest ever midfielder, Sardara exactly knew when to call it quits. He saw the writing on the wall. He realised the reality that its time to move on.
"Yes I am still fit and there is 2 to 3 years of hockey left in me but when I asked whether the Indian team really needs my remaining 2-3 years, I got the answer. I have realised, I do not feature in the new scheme of things," Sardara Singh told Republic TV in an exclusive interview.
The immediate trigger for Sardara's sudden retirement seems to be pressed by India's shocking semi final defeat against Malaysia in the Asian Games and his subsequent omission from the probable's list for upcoming tournaments.
So is it his differences with Hockey India or his fallout with chief coach Harendra Singh? Interestingly, both were always strong supporters of Sardara even when he was in deep trouble with serious charges & controversies in the past. They backed him then, but not now. His services were needed then, not now.
Sardara realised this inevitable. He did not want to hang around, run from pillar to post for stretching his career for that 2-3 years left in him. "Yes it pains. I wanted to retire after Tokyo Olympics with a medal around my neck but that was not be. 2014 Asian Games gold in Incheon was the highpoint of my career but regrets are many. Not getting an Olympic and World Cup medal and a Champions Trophy gold will always be my biggest regrets."
Not many can talk so straight, so simple and so honestly like Sardara. And just like his uncomplicated game, Sardara sums it up: "Its always better to retire before you are kicked out and forced to retire."
Hope some of our other legends learn from Sardara and play the final masterstroke by leaving the field on a high at the right time.