It was about a month ago that Tendulkar announced that he was finally going to hang up his boots. At the end of this two Test series against the West Indies, having played is 200th Test, Sachin Tendulkar will retire. It is hard to believe that it is finally happening.
I recall when Steve Waugh announced that he would retire at the end of the summer of 2003-04, concluding with four Tests against India. The fanfare that accompanied that was impressive. It may not have affected Waugh but it did seem to unsettle the team. Emotions ran high as the great man reached the end of his career, concluding on the final day of the Sydney Test.
It is hard for an Australian to think of that experience and translate it to Tendulkar’s situation now. To start with, you have to magnify it by about 40 times to take into consideration the population difference. Then multiply that by two to factor in a higher proportion of cricket lovers in India. And double that again because all that feeling is concentrated into two Tests instead if four. By my calculations the celebrations, emotion and focus relating to Tendulkar’s retirement would eclipse the Waugh experience by about 160 times. And even that may not do justice to the importance of Sachin Tendulkar to India.
Australia could not send off Steve Waugh with a win but I fancy India’s chances against the West Indies. That being said, things were a little shaky for India for a while. Chasing a modest 234, India was five down for less than 100. They were saved by Rohit Sharma, playing is first Test match. He followed up his stunning 209 in the final ODI against the Aussies with 177 on debut, sharing a 280 run partnership with Ashwin. A 219 run lead may render redundant a second innings for Tendulkar.
I wonder will Tendulkar manage another century this series? Tendulkar has scored exactly 100 international centuries (Test and ODIs). There was a long interval between the 99th and 100th centuries (just over a year) and that 100th one did come a long time ago (18 months ago). It’s hard to know with the Little Master but he is well past his best. He has not scored a Test century for 21 matches (more than two and a half years) and has averaged just 25 in is past 10 Test matches.
I saw a funny cartoon quite some time ago. Sachin stood before the selectors and one of them said, “We want to discuss retirement plans.” Sachin replied, “When are you retiring?” I thought it was very funny but completely true. He is finally leaving now and I think it would be rather nice if he finishes on 100 centuries and 200 Test matches. Statisticians like round numbers. Still, if he makes one more to go to 101 tons, he will be able to write a book called ‘The Little Master’s 101 on scoring tons’. Something like that.
I shall be penning a more substantial piece for the final chapter on 18 November.