Sachin Tendulkar looks beyond 200 Tests, at 25 years


sachinNEW DELHI: Sachin Tendulkar may, after all, continue to play Test cricket even after the West Indies tour at home next month.

According to sources close to the cricketer, he has set his sights on a 2014 finish, which will complete 25 glorious years for him in international cricket.

In other words, he intends to keep playing at least till the New Zealand tour next year, if form and fitness are with him.

TOI had reported last month that Tendulkar’s continuation after his 200th Test will depend on how he performs during the West Indies tour.

There were suggestions, though, that he might call it a day after playing the two Tests he needs to complete the landmark.

Whether Tendulkar should retire or not is, of course, entirely up to him. But the selectors will decide whether he should be in the Indian Test team, depending on his utility to the squad and his contributions in the middle.

BCCI, incidentally, has made it clear that it wouldn’t be pushing Tendulkar into a decision after his 200th Test match.

“It’s completely up to Tendulkar when he wants to retire. BCCI won’t tell him when to retire,” BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said.

“Personally, I am a big fan of Tendulkar and it’s not in BCCI’s culture to push a player into retirement,” Patel said.

That is, of course, not totally true. Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, to name two recent examples, were forced out when they were keen on playing.

“BCCI never pushed anyone,” explained BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla. “It always boils down to performance and nothing else. How can the board force someone to quit cricket? It’s always the prerogative of the player.”

Kapil, Shastri back Sachin

Former India captains Kapil Dev and Ravi Shastri, meanwhile, insisted that it has to be Tendulkar’s decision. “The retirement talk has been on for five years or so. If he is enjoying his game, no one can stop him. He has a mind of his own and he knows best when to hang up his boots,” Kapil said.

Shastri too agreed that as a long as he is doing his bit with the bat, he is going to play. “He knows when to retire. He alone can decide when to quit. If he feels he is not up to it, he won’t hesitate to announce his retirement,” he reasoned.

Isn’t this kind of retirement talk putting pressure on Tendulkar? Kapil squashed the theory. “From the age of 16, he has been playing under pressure. In fact, he has never batted without pressure. What is new today?” he asked. “We should all thank him for giving us the pleasure to watch him bat,” Dev added.

When asked if Tendulkar’s lack of runs in the ongoing Champions League could be a worry, Shastri said: “This is just the start of the cricket season. How can you say that he is out of form? Let him play a couple of more matches before the Test series begins.”

According to the Mumbai Cricket Association, Tendulkar also has the option of playing a couple of Ranji Trophy matches for his state team before the Test series against the West Indies in November.

Besides, Mumbai Indians, the current IPL champions, are already in the semifinals of the Champions League. Who knows what he has up his sleeves in the next encounter!


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