Over the last couple of days there have been reports that cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar will be asked to retire by the BCCI following his 200th Test, which will coincide with the second Test at home against the West Indies. A news report has also alleged that the Indian cricket board has arranged the home series against West Indies in haste, by putting the important away series against South Africa at stake just so that Tendulkar can complete his 200th Test. If this is indeed true, the Indian board is setting a wrong precedent, making an individual bigger than the game. At the same time, it is equally true that time has come to ‘force’ Tendulkar to retire.
Tendulkar may be the greatest batsman the game has ever seen, but in every player’s life there comes a time when he must step, or be asked to do so. The maestro is 40 now, and his record over the last two years has been nothing short of pedestrian. He last scored a Test century at Cape Town in January 2011. Since the beginning of February 2011, Tendulkar has played 21 Tests and has managed only 1145 runs at a meagre average of 32, in stark contrast to his overall 54. During his phase his highest score has been 94.
A further indication of Tendulkar’s struggles can be gained from the break-up of his performance over the last three seasons. In 2011, he played 8 matches and averaged 40, in 2012, he averaged 24 after nine Tests and in 2013 so far he has played 4 Tests and averages only 32. These figures make it clear that Tendulkar no longer is the same player he once was, and raise serious questions about his place in the team. It is only fair that the selectors take a stern call on the master blaster. They should have done so a while back.
If Tendulkar was playing for Australia, he would have been axed long back. The Aussie selectors did not even allow the likes of Mark Waugh and Michael Bevan a decent run once they were sure they had passed their prime. In fact, Australian cricket is full of instances where great players have been openly told that they aren’t needed anymore – Michael Hussey was the last in the long list. Indians must definitely take some lessons from Australia’s example.
The difference between Australian cricket and Indian cricket is that here we give a lot more importance to individual honour. Yes, there is no denying the fact that Tendulkar has been one of the greatest servants of Indian cricket. But, that doesn’t mean he can carry on and on till he desires. There has to be a full stop put somewhere, and the time is long overdue. Previous selection committees haven’t had the guts to ask Tendulkar to step aside, but the Sandeep Patil-led bunch is different. They first asked Tendulkar to quit from ODIs, and might now be the ones who can take credit for the boldest decision ever made.
--By A Cricket Analyst