Call it a classic example of stage-setting by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and/or some brilliant marketing strategy, but Sachin Tendulkar could play his 200th Test at homeand not in South Africa as was expected until yesterday morning.
It is rumoured that the BCCI, in an effort to boost its coffers, decided to include a two-Test home series against the West Indies in November before the team leaves for South Africa and also ensure that no country other than the one he was born in, gets the pleasure of witnessing the batting great’s unprecedentedfeat.
India’s tour of South Africa in all probability, will witness two Tests instead of three, which is a tight slap in the face for all talk of putting more emphasis on Test cricket. Two Tests versus a struggling West Indian team plus two Tests against South Africa works out to four, but quantity wins over quality. Interestingly, the press release that the BCCI sent out yesterday, had no mention of the South Africa tour.
Another two-Test farce will be the India vs New Zealand series in Kiwiland in early 2014 while, in the same year, the India vs England Test series will see five Tests -- the first of its kind involving both countries in England since 1959.
Two-Test series can never be a good thing for cricket. “If the Test series in SA is cut down to two Tests, there might as well be no series,” tweeted former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar yesterday morning and how right he is.
The South African board will not be impressed and the pruning of the Test series will inevitably linked to India’s poor cricketing relationship between both countries.
India last played the West Indies at home less than two years ago in 2011 and India have not visited the Caribbean for a return Test series makes the forthcoming series a bit bizarre. The West Indians of course will be only too happy to come. Doubtless, Tendulkar playing his landmark Test at the Wankhede Stadium will be a fairy tale affair and who is to say it won’t be his last in an incredible international career spanning 24 seasons.
Memories of Tendulkar being carried around the stadium by histeammates after the 2011 World Cup triumph won’t be lost on Mumbai cricket fans and the chants, ‘Sachin, Sachin’ will be heard in a matter of months.
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