The Indian cricket board’s decision to cobble together a two-Test series against the West Indies in November, and reports that Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium will be allowed to jump a rotational queue to stage the second match, have only caused a fresh brouhaha over Sachin Tendulkar, this time his impending landmark — the 200th Test. Nobody will grudge the batting great if he wants to mark the special occasion before his home fans, family and friends. However, the decision now gives the impression that a needless attempt is being made at hand-holding, the last thing one would like to associate with Tendulkar.
That Tendulkar is in the twilight of his glorious career is not in any doubt. He is 40, and playing sport in the modern era, the wear and tear caused by spending long hours in the middle are all too apparent in the injuries he has suffered. But the cricket board can do better than whip up retirement talk by its latest action. Tendulkar has already quit limited overs cricket, and the 200-Test mark will have a nice ring to it if he decides to call it a day. He has gone for almost three years without a Test century, and the team management and national selectors may well look to encourage younger players who have shown strong signs of taking the team forward. However, putting together a farewell series will make sense only if the batsman himself has expressed such a desire. It would be welcome too as Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman went into retirement without giving their legion of fans an opportunity to pay them tribute on the field one last time. One would not want that to happen to Tendulkar.
But it would be unfortunate if the latest frenzy is the handiwork of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) when Tendulkar himself feels he should be challenged by the best team in the current game — South Africa. That would be an occasion to remember even if he fails. But the drama surrounding every landmark Tendulkar approaches, as was the case with his 100th international century, does not help the team or the player. If the BCCI does feel Tendulkar should take a call on his career, then it should be transparent. The player, and his fans, can do without all this fuss.