It is now official. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar will play his 200th test match against the West Indies on November 14, 2013. The news comes amidst conflicting reports in the media, on the subject of Tendulkar’s retirement from test cricket. There is an unnecessary build-up on the subject and rumors are rife that BCCI may request him to call it a day, once he has played his 200th test. As per a news story published in the Mumbai Mirror, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, BCCI, has even chosen a person, who will break this news to the master blaster on BCCI’s behalf. They are trying to build a collective opinion that Tendulkar’s current performance is blunted and his reflexes have markedly slowed down. In recent times, he is getting bowled more often than at any other time in the past. He has not scored a century in 22 Tests and has only managed two half-centuries in his last 12 Tests.
Every time the maestro walks out to the middle during a test match, expectations are always sky high. They don’t want anything less than a hundred. But somehow, runs have refused to flow from his bat and every time, he is out for a low score, speculations and conjectures on his retirement go up a few notches higher. Though, the great man himself doesn’t believe his cricketing career is near the end, the pseudo-experts think that he is needlessly hanging on. The armchair-specialists want to tell him about Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting, who called it quits after a loss in their forms. Such ridiculous reasoning is aimed at putting mental pressure on him.
Both Dravid and Ponting were not on the scene when Sachin Tendulkar arrived on the cricket firmament in November 1989; Ponting played his first test in December 1995, while Dravid debuted in June 1996. Sachin came even earlier to the equally illustrious Brian Lara, who played his first test in December 1990 and the talented Inzamam-ul-Haq, who announced his arrival in June 1992. Therefore, cricket in the early nineties was dominated by the trio of Sachin Lara and Inzamam.
Many experts feel that Sachin should make his own decision on the timing of his retirement. Even at 40, the finesse in his game is worthy of emulation by the breed of upcoming youngsters. He takes his game very seriously and when he is not playing, he is busy practicing. So he knows the flaws and cracks in his game and it can be assumed, he is trying to mend them. Therefore, he should be left alone to decide about the retirement issue, rather than forcing him to follow the examples of Dravid and Ponting.
There is another sordid story doing the rounds in the media, concerning BCCI’s attempt to deny South Africa, to host Sachin’s 200th test. It is believed that BCCI manipulated the 2-test match home series against the West Indies before the visit to South Africa, to boost Sachin’s chances of scoring another hundred because the current West Indies pace attack is weaker compared to South Africa. Nothing can be more demeaning than the idea of facilitation. Sachin may be 40, his reflexes might have lost the sharpness of his younger days, but the last thing, he would desire, is such underhand attempt to boost his chances of scoring a century. In fact these attempts are akin to heaping insults on the legendary batsman.
The good thing is that Sachin Tendulkar has kept himself at a distance from media reporting and kept his cool. 24 years is too long a time in any job for attaining maturity. Even now, he can be seen as deeply involved in his game. One only needs to watch Sachin in the ongoing Champion’s League T-20 matches and see how he is such a motivating force for his Mumbai Indian colleagues.