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The never-ending Tendulkar debate

Could the Little Master keep playing beyond age of 40?

Gulf News

The question about whether the Delhi match against Australia will be Sachin Tendulkar’s last Test has cropped up again. It has now reached the stage that, whenever Tendulkar walks out to bat, India cricket fans start to wonder anxiously whether it will be his last appearance for his country.

This speculation has intensified even more so given that the next series for India against South Africa is eight months away.

Tendulkar turns 40 next month, and in the last 15 years, only one cricketer has played Test cricket beyond the age of 40. That was England’s Alec Stewart, who was aged 40 years and 153 days when he played his last Test match in September 2003.

Through an elegant 81 in the first Test of the Australian series in Chennai, Tendulkar proved that he is in good nick, but fans would hate to see him fail even once.

Despite the huge fan following for the veteran, there is also a big group of supporters that strongly believe it’s time he retires, and that number is increasing by the day. Their argument is that Tendulkar, like a true sportsman, should give way to the youngsters. For them, whether he is still good or not is immaterial. At the same time, there are die-hard Tendulkar fans who can barely think of an Indian team without the Master Blaster.

It is a widely known that Tendulkar hates the thought of stopping playing as much as he detests getting out during a knock. But today he is at a stage where critics wait to point out his defects rather than admire his shots. When he got run out in the Mohali Test, many observers commented that he had lost the strength in his legs.

For those who argue that Tendulkar should give way to youngsters, it has to be pointed out that he has retired from one-day and Twenty20 formats. Test cricket is meant for those who can appreciate the various nuances of the game. This format needs experienced batsmen, and with a Test average of 54.12, he may still be good enough to continue playing after 40.

Though many top players have recently remarked that Tendulkar should be given the liberty to decide on his retirement, cricket fans will still continue to discuss this matter. Ever since the little genius began enthralling fans with his exploits, everything that he has done has been a hot topic for discussion. As such, that’s why talk of his possible retirement will continue to be debated. But for sure, when he does finally call it a day, these very same critics are very likely to initiate a new debate on who will be the next Tendulkar; or, in fact, will there ever be another like him.