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Final word on Sachin rests with him

india Updated: Dec 05, 2012 00:06 IST
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When the series started, England were considered sitting ducks, the proverbial underdogs who had little chance of surviving Indian spin. Now, midway through the four-match contest, Cook's team is in happier space and having aced India in Mumbai, the momentum is with them.

The tables turned, it is Dhoni who is worried. The captain got into a controversy over the choice of pitch, which was ugly and undignified.

His rant against the Ahmedabad curator was unnecessary and the demand for engineered, designer pitches a bit over the top. While the cricket establishment was divided over the issue, Probir Mukherjee in Kolkata, a much-respected professional, not only stood his ground but rubbished the captain's request as 'immoral and unethical'.

In Mumbai, the India batsmen were caught in their own net, unable to cope with the sharp spin from bowlers who consistently asked questions. The series level, and with successive failures behind him, the most loaded questions are directed at Sachin Tendulkar himself.

Some of these, seeking his immediate retirement, are grossly unfair but such opinion indicate the harsh reality of sport, and life itself, that time waits for nobody. Everyone, however great, has a limited life span, nobody is immortal, nobody has permanent tenancy rights on a cricket field.

Which leads us to the question on who ultimately decides on Sachin's future - fans, selectors or Sachin himself. Dravid feels the team needs Sachin more than ever before. Kumble thinks the entire debate is wrong, Sachin needs emotional space and respect.

Bishan Bedi set the ground rules when he said only people who have played 150 Tests matches should comment on the matter.

This rules out everyone, including the selectors, but the most balanced comment came from Madhav Mantri , the 91-year-old former India wicketkeeper.

Personal decision
The decision about retirement, he said, is the choice of the player. But whether a player is good enough to play for the country has to be taken by the selectors. The two issues are separate, and distinct.

While the debate rages on, without any acceptable conclusion, the final word will be of the master himself.

At Kolkata, he could come up with an effort that reasserts his class and buries the controversy. And nobody should be surprised because Sachin has a track record of 23 years of dominating the field, and standing alone on the summit.