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Who are we to decide Tendulkar's fate?
April 17, 2007
The media is busy discussing and predicting the future of Sachin Tendulkar. Who are we to decide his fate? At 34, he is still a 'young' man with plenty to offer to Indian cricket. Sachin still has a touch of class and is feared by many bowlers.
Does it really matter if his batting rating has dropped a few places or if he had a couple of misses during the World Cup? How many better batsmen are there in world cricket today? Very few if any I may suggest.
There is no doubt in my mind that he is still capable of scoring centuries and flaying the best bowlers in the world.
Aching muscles, taking longer to get over injuries, lack of desire to train or practice, boredom when playing, lack of enjoyment, having achieved one's goals leaving nothing else to strive for and picking up a pay packet for the wrong reasons -- all these are sure indicators that it is time to call it quits.
After 19 years of international cricket, I knew I had done my time and at 39 years of age I decided to change direction within the game. There was nothing left for me to achieve.
I had three world records -- most Test wickets, most five wickets in an innings and most 10 wickets in a match. How long does a cricketer keep playing just for the sake of it? When are records enough? Some day, somewhere, there will be players who will go beyond the current pace setters. Since my retirement in 1990, there are many bowlers who have taken more wickets than me but that does not diminish what I was able to achieve in my era.
If a player is still a key performer in a national side, it is ultimately his own decision when to retire and that is why I have admiration for Anil Kumble, Brian Lara and Inzamam-ul-Haq, who are leaving the one-day arena but will still continue playing Test cricket. They have chosen to finish their innings in one-day cricket to extend their careers in Tests.
It is the beginning of the end for those players but as long as they have the desire, commitment, enjoyment and performance to keep playing, we should let them decide the timing of their own last rites -- they deserve that.
Glenn McGrath is a perfect example.
I believe that some players deserve the courtesy, especially from selectors, to be given a quiet word at the right time so they can retire with dignity. That is a private matter for those concerned and not for a public or media witch-hunt!
The Indian team for the tour of Bangladesh will be selected on the April 20. Again, in the media we are hearing the "s" word -- speculation.
There is mischievous reporting in some sections of the media who seems hell-bent on making news rather than reporting it. They have said that the BCCI have instructed the dropping of senior players and the introduction of young players to build for the future. This has been denied by the BCCI and the selectors state that they will pick the players they want without interference.
In my seven years as a New Zealand selector, the Board has never instructed the selectors to pick certain players. It is not their role to interfere. Selectors need to be trusted and are therefore held accountable for decision-making.
New Zealand selectors would never consider making massive cuts by dropping as many as six players from a team -- too much experience lost would be counter productive to achieving positive results.
To restore some faith and credibility in the Indian game, India must win in Bangladesh. Yes, there is an opportunity to rest some players, thus allowing three or four young players to be added to the squad; however there is a huge difference between resting and dropping a player.
During the tour, those younger players may or may not get game time, but either way, they will gain valuable touring experience which will assist their understanding of the requirements of touring and what is needed at international cricket to be successful. Learning is such a vital part of the game. The game is never 'mastered'.
It is important to have as much experience as possible. Young players need to bat with players like Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid or to bowl in tandem with Harbhijan Singh or Zaheer Khan. This is part of the learning and development process and will hopefully produce the players of the future. I will watch the latest developments with interest!
-- Distributed by GE Features
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