Why Sachin Tendulkar needs to extend his Test career

India"s batsman Sachin Tendulkar reacts after he is bowled out by New Zealand bowler Tim Southee, left, during the fourth day of their second cricket test match in Bangalore, India, Monday, Sept. 3, 2012 Tendulkar has been bowled three times in his last three innings

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The fox, in philosopher Isaiah Berlin's famous essay, knows many things.

The hedgehog knows one big thing. Sachin Tendulkar, the very definition of the hedgehog, cannot be unaware that his illustrious career is winding down.

But - despite his failures against New Zealand - it cannot be the end. Yet.

Yes, he has slowed down. Yes, he was bowled three times in his last three innings. Yes, his failures were not against the greatest bowling attack in the world.

But only those who simplify the game into an exercise in painting-by-numbers (a speciality of Indian television channels) can believe that all batsmanship can be reduced to such packages as "if you are bowled often, you are old and must quit".

His dismissal in the first innings at Bangalore resulted from indecisiveness. It wasn't the wrong choice of shot so much as that split second of inactivity while he made up his mind.

Self doubt

In the second innings, he twice played the square drive against Tim Southee that suggested he had overcome his self doubt.

Yet, unusually for a man who once cut out all drives on the off side while making a double century in Australia, Tendulkar attempted to play across the line.

This had nothing to do with his age or fitness - it was the dogged but dangerous attempt by a proud man to slaughter the demons within, and to be seen to be slaughtering them.

This is not to suggest that Tendulkar has no problems.

Sachin Tendulkar Tendulkar has been playing international cricket for 23 years

He is 39, and has been playing international cricket for 23 years. He has had career-threatening injuries, went through a phase when he could not lift a mug of coffee because of his injured elbow, and his various bones have been analysed threadbare in the national media.

And now, with the retirement of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, he needs to lead yet another phase of revival in Indian cricket.

There are seven home Tests to follow this New Zealand series and tours to South Africa, New Zealand and England to come.

Now that the brouhaha over his 100 centuries has died down, Tendulkar can take a good, hard look at his career.

He has certainly overstayed his welcome in one-day cricket. There is nothing to prove in that format, and the focus ought to be on Test cricket.


Despite the 2-0 win against New Zealand, India's batting - Virat Kohli apart - does not inspire confidence. It would be the height of irresponsibility by the selectors to let Tendulkar go in the same season as Dravid and Laxman.

The Englishmen arrive next month, and there might be call to drop Tendulkar down to number five, from where he might possibly control the innings.

With Cheteshwar Pujara settling in nicely at number three, a promotion for India's best batsman of the past year and more, Virat Kohli, would allow Tendulkar to recalibrate his game without the pressure of having to carry the batting on his shoulders.

Technically, he will benefit from a chat with the man who held India's middle order together in his time - Gundappa Viswanath.

Since the recent dismissals have resulted from poor shot selection, Vishwanath would advise him about the value of playing straight as you grow older.

Vishwanath, one of India's most creative batsmen, changed his guard from leg to middle and consciously played straighter towards the end of his career.

Although he didn't make huge scores, Tendulkar did look good while batting in England and Australia, and he is at the stage in his career when he simply has to make the right choices.

No more one-day cricket; restricted appearances in the IPL. And all energies focused on Tests.

That will revive both his career as well as the fortunes of Indian cricket. Incredibly, he has more to offer.

Suresh Menon is Editor, Wisden India Almanack


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  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Player ratings for Ind v NZ: Gambhir, Tendulkar & Zaheer Khan, 5; Yadav, 6; Sehwag, 7; Pujara & Ojha, 8; Kohli, 9; Dhoni & Ashwin, 10.

    No country has a good record touring India, and the up-coming Test series will be tough for England...

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    It's his choice - agreed

    He's aware he is on a decline and will bow out soon - agreed

    He isn't bigger than the game (despite BCCI being blinded by £$¥) - agreed


    The selectors do not always need to select in terms of potential and future prospects, if he shows promise in the nets keep him. Yes match performance is key but why deny him the chance if he shows potential behind the scenes!

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Yes, the choice is his to whether quit or stay. However, I think that you should stop while you are at the top (not that he is at the moment...).

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    for the last one year , those who have the eyes/ brain, can understand that, he is in same position like, ponting, waugh. Today nobody want to loose a lucrative offer of sponsors/ adds etc. in terms of cricket , one may be a genius, but that does not stop anybody from hankering( wealth) . moreover india eleven is not a charitable position. So selectors should take the" bold decision"

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.


    The best team of all time?

    If this is about transposing players as they were from their era to now to make up this team, not many before the 70s would make the grade would they. In fact, I am not sure IVA would get in would he.

    But both Sachin and Kallis would take their places I guess, as would Lara, Warne.....? Ponting?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    For all the self confessed critiques asking for SRT's head ~ wasn't he our best batter in Oz tour, well atleast the test leg ? You can't be anything less than mental if you think that reflexes slow down in what 5~8 months yet shouldn't it be lack of competitive match practise that did him in against NZ ! He scored a brilliant 50 odd against Pak in Asia Cup with his trademark 6 over WK & now this !

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    For this supreme world class batsman, it would be more diginfied and appropriate if he went whilst still on top.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    It is a very rare occurance that someone is born to a life in which they excel. Sachin is a master of the game and to have been alive to witness this great man perform in a game he was born to play has been a great privelidge. Whether he should retire or not I believe he has earnt the honour of making the decision for himself. Personally i'd like to see him grace the filed of battle for some time

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    One of the greatest batsmen cricket has seen must, in his own interests, retire before he has to be dropped. At his age, his reflexes are not what they were. Please leave with your dignity intact Sachin, and let us remember the pleasure you gave to millions, and the despair you brought to so many bowlers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Despite all good things and positive things, I think that he should have leave now. That's the cricket. There are a lot of new people. On the other hand Sachin will lost all his titles if he plays more. Sachin is a grate cricketer we ever love.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    i agree with mr menon and have written a short prescription for sachin's brand minder and sponsors. change before you have to and, meanwhile, leave him alone until the next Test: http://dailypioneer.com/columnists/item/52391-endulkar-inc.html#itemCommentsAnchor

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I think he has reached at a stage where its no one but him, who is going to decide when to quit...till then enjoy!!


  • rate this

    Comment number 12.


    Perhaps - but sometimes statistics lie and there is practially noone on this earth who would say Kallis is a better batsman than Tendulkar - same others with worse records than Kallis eg, if picking the best team of all time as Bradman did (who included Tendul), the likes of Kallis would be way down the pecking order behind Lara, Haynes, Ponting, Dravid, Sobers

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    He shall call it off when he feels for it.If he is not making runs for the team, he should not be picked up because he is Sachin.We have to be practical and give chance to others who are showing talent and just waiting to play for the team..

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I still believe he can deliver the performance which he showed the cricket world from 2008 to till 2011 WC. but he is spending less time in cricket. he should leave T20. He should play domestic cricket more should not miss any oneday and test cricket. Should not waste time for fund raising, event attendance, politics, advert. I believe this is the only way he can discover again his best form

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Even as an England supporter I'd say that Tendulkar, for longevity and runmaking, has been one of the greatest cricketers of my time and a fantastic ambassador for India. But the problem with a player as old as he is is that every slump could be either 'just a slump', or the pensioner's pass. Even he won't know which. If for this reason alone, I don't envy the Indian selectors right now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Time still to give the English a bashing Yaar

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Comparing Tendulkar as an overall Test cricket player with Kallis?
    Tendulkar: 190 Tests, 51 centuries, 65 Fifties, Average 55.08.
    Average of a century every 3.72 Tests. 45 wickets at 54
    Kallis 155 Tests, 43 centuries, 55 Fifties, Average 56,84
    Average of a century every 3.60 Tests. 280 wickets at 32
    Kallis better in EVERY category.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Package it however you like, he is spent. He hasn't been an able support in the absence of VVS and Dravid. Lately, Indian batting has not been shouldered by him for too long contrary to media. Self-respect and dignity will desert him whether he likes it or not.

    He is too greedy. Traits of Indian politician are showing. For all his accomplishments, this is how I see him now. Go now before pushed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    He is an Indian ICON can the Indian cricket public will fell he still has a few more years left in him especially in the wake of Laxman's retirement. I think he brings more to the dressing room than his batting does at present. I think the younger players will look up at him and they will perform better with him IN the team. We have been honoured to see him and Jacques Kallis in the same era.


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