The BCCI reportedly cannot imagine an Indian team without Sachin Tendulkar; nevertheless, the top brass of the board must be whispering to each other ‘Mission Accomplished’ on Thursday.
It is well-know that senior board officials had got him to retire from the one-day game 10 months ago. And on Thursday, their efforts to ease him out of the Test set-up bore fruit. A peeved Tendulkar brought down the curtains on an illustrious and unparalleled career by announcing that he would retire after next month’s two-match Test series against the West Indies. The second Test of that rubber will be his 200th.
It’s no secret that Tendulkar has looked a pale shadow of his great self since India won the World Cup in April 2011. And it’s no secret either that everyone in the Indian cricketing set-up firmly believes that Sachin has outlived his use-by date.
The shocking part, though, is that no one in the board, the national selection committee or the Indian team management, had the courtesy to convey to Tendulkar that he was no longer required.
Instead, the BCCI gave him regular ‘signals’ with calculated plants in the media. On his part, Sachin, characteristically, tried his best not to take the message. So, to some extent, he brought on himself the crassness of the method with which the board got him out. That’s not the way to treat your greatest player.
In addition to this, the BCCI took advantage of its tiff with Cricket South Africa, even threatening to call off India’s much-awaited tour of the African nation.
It then contacted the West Indies Cricket Board which, in turn, agreed to send its team to India for a short series. The idea behind this hastily-arranged rubber was to “let Tendulkar get done with his 200th Test”.
A disgusted Tendulkar, who by now had had enough, reportedly rang up Srinivasan on Thursday to convey the news that the Tamil Nadu strongman wanted to hear. “Sachin is extremely disappointed. The situation could have been handled better,” a former India player, Mumbai stalwart and Tendulkar’s close friend, told dna. “He couldn’t imagine the board was planting stories and telling him through the media that he wasn’t required. And the same officials are praising him on TV now.”
“Just how much could he take it lying down? Even the paanwallah has an opinion. Everyone wanted him to retire. Just wait and watch how he bats in his last two Tests. He will play with a free mind and is determined to prove his critics wrong. He will go out on a high and his performances must prompt them to say ‘why is he going?’” the friend said.