What does Sachin Tendulkar do from here on? Ian Chappell has indicated that Sachin’s time is up. I’m not so sure but it will take a big commitment if he is to recapture some of his dominance as the world’s number one batsman.
He could slaughter the minnows. In other words, he’s still capable of taking lesser attacks to task but to truly earn the respect of his peers, he has to score runs when it matters and against the best.
Does he have the dedication to do that or has all the pressure over nearly two decades taken a toll on body and mind? Only Sachin can answer that and his answer must be honest. He must have a good talk with the man in the mirror because only he knows if he wants it enough.
He has nothing more to prove to earn a place as one of the game’s greats but all players come to a crossroads at some time. Well, Sachin has arrived there now and everyone will be waiting for his decision.
Meanwhile, the World Cup is heating up and the way I see it, the last four will be Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
England have a lot to do and on the evidence of their game with Ireland, they will have to improve by a considerable margin to test the others.
The West Indies are the wildcard. They are a little unpredictable, like Pakistan, and have match-winners yet to fire. Chris Gayle has been disappointing and has hardly got out of first gear. If he goes, anything can happen but this tournament has been a wrecker of reputations rather than an enhance: Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Inzamam-ul Haq, Mohammed Yousuf, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff, and Michael Vaughan have been overshadowed by newer names, but one or two of them might still have a bearing on the outcome of the World Cup.
The better prepared teams with good administrative back-up have come to the fore, which is a lesson in itself, but it isn’t over yet. You get the distinct feeling that some teams have been much more thorough in their pre-planning and gameplans, which has paid off.
New grounds, new dimensions, different angles and combinations have been required to succeed. The quicker learners have won out.
Australia are due a bad game, because it is almost impossible to go this long without one, and it must worry them that the semis are round the corner. They almost had one against South Africa, who gave them a real fright.
An 83-run victory sounds like a big margin but if you dig deeper, you’ll find South Africa held the upper hand for two-thirds of a big chase. Australia are aware of and slightly wary of the thinness of their bowling attack under pressure, so watch this space should there be a South Africa-Australia semifinal. A win could well give either side the impetus and confidence to go all the way.
After 1999 and 2003, South Africa are desperate to get it right.
New Zealand are quietly going about their business without Australia’s high profile, but they are a determined unit. Bond is bowling well and quick but Jacob Oram and Brendon McCullum are their backbone.
The latter (along with Mark Boucher) is the most competitive player on show. His spirit knows no bounds and he is never down or out. He will be essential for New Zealand to go all the way. Their back-up is weak so to get to the final, New Zealand cannot afford any injuries. With Bond and Oram being a little fragile, Stephen Fleming will be crossing his fingers that his key bowlers remain fit.
It’s all brewing up but at the moment Australia are firm favourites over everyone.
They enjoy this tag but the World Cup is known for surprises. We will just have to wait and see.