England paceman James Anderson’s delivery that kept low and shattered Sachin Tendulkar’s stumps in Nagpur yesterday only amplified voices calling for the batting icon’s Test closure.
Tendulkar will probably surprise his fans and critics if he does not put a full stop to his Test career after the Nagpur Test. Several would reckon that now is a good time to bid farewell. His former captain Sourav Ganguly said recently that he would have quit in Nagpur if he were in Tendulkar’s shoes. According to sources, the selectors have left the retirement decision to him. That the ball is in Tendulkar’s court now has never been clearer.
It’s never easy for champions to say goodbye. Some have missed the on-the-field buzz and made comebacks. That said, Tendulkar has had a highly forgettable year. His fans will hope he gets a three-figure score in the second dig, but if he is thwarted, he will end the year with a zero in the Test centuries column in 2012. In the previous 23 calendar years, this has happened on five occasions. And never before has Tendulkar spent the full year without a hundred when he has played nine or more Tests.
Before his 76 in the first innings at Kolkata, Tendulkar’s best was 80 in the second innings of the Sydney Test against Australia. Twenty-seven was his best score after the 80 and before the 76 in Kolkata recently. The year 2011, much of it which was spent hoping for his landmark 100th international century, was more rewarding — Tests: 9, Runs: 756, 100’s: 1, Average: 47.25.
Bedi: Blame it on pitches
Former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi, who coached Tendulkar on his first tours outside the subcontinent, reckons the retirement decision will be only “HIS”. Bedi continued: “This is not an issue for you and me. I am nobody to give my view on this. He has to sort it out.” The Sardar of Spin spewed venom on the kind of tracks prepared for the series against England: “The kind of surface (laid out) for the great man to say farewell is abysmal. Who is responsible for this? It’s time someone owns up. Is this the kind of track you expect him to excel on? This is no way to pull him down. He’s such a great player. The man is struggling. We know it. He knows it.
“Why only Tendulkar? Even other batsmen like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni like the ball to come on to the bat.”
Amidst all this ruin, Tendulkar’s optimism cannot be underestimated. In the depths of despair after crashing out of the 2007 World Cup in the first round, he still dreamt of the incredible.
He said in these columns in April 2011: “That was a dream (2011 World Cup win). I took up that challenge. I said, the next World Cup final is in Mumbai and this is where I would want the trophy. And I started working towards that.” While it is not far-fetched to expect his walk to the wicket in the second innings in Nagpur to be his last in Test cricket, he himself has gone on record to say, “I firmly believe that one should never ever give up in life.”