The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to “unofficially” retire the No.10 jersey for international matches. The No.10, worn by Sachin Tendulkar throughout his career in ODIs and for a solitary international T20, will, henceforth, be associated only with the man himself.
Tendulkar retired in November 2013 bringing a 24-year-long career to an end. He had last worn No. 10 in March 2012 when he played his last ODI against Pakistan.
Since then, No.10 was unused for nearly five years before Mumbai fast bowler Shardul Thakur decided to don it for his ODI debut at Colombo last August. This prompted trolling of Thakur and BCCI in social media with a flood of comments ridiculing the player for “trying to be a Sachin.”
“It unnecessarily creates controversy and players get criticised,” said a BCCI official. “So it’s better to retire the number unofficially. Players, though, can wear it when they play for India A or for say a non-international list A match but not during an international.”
The Mumbai Indians, incidentally, had retired No.10 in 2013 after Tendulkar retired from all forms of the game.
The Indian Express has learnt that BCCI sounded out top players from the Indian team and they agreed that it made sense for No. 10 to be retired.
It wasn’t just Tendulkar’s fans who trolled Thakur, even Rohit Sharma took a swipe, posting a photo of Thakur with a smiley and a caption: “Hey bro what’s your jersey number?”
In an interview, Thakur claimed numerology as the reason. He said the digits of his date of birth (16.10.1991) add up to 28 and 2+8 equals 10.
Thakur refrained from using No. 10 when he returned to India squad in October for the series against New Zealand. In warm-up games, he was seen wearing No. 54.
This isn’t the first time a team has retired a number. Various football clubs have done it. Inter Milan retired No 4 jersey in 2014 once Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti called it quits. Just like West Ham United did with No. 6 which was worn by legendary Bobby Moore. AC Milan, interestingly, retired No.3 made famous by Paolo Maldini but it can still be worn by one of his sons — if they make it professionally.
It’s the same in the NBA with LA Lakers stopping No. 24 after Kobe Bryant and No. 33 for Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Chicago Bulls retired No 23 after Michael Jordan called it quits.
Incidentally, it’s not a practice in international football. The Argentinian federation decided to retire No. 10 in honour of Diego Maradona and even left it out while listing numbers for their 23-member squad for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. They had reserve goalkeeper Roberto Bonano listed as No 24. FIFA, however, didn’t agree and eventually striker Ariel Ortega who was originally No. 23 wore No. 10 during the tournament. It’s Lionel Messi, understandably, who gets to wear it these days.