Tour over for Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar’s fifth, and maybe last, tour of England is over.
India, beset by injuries throughout their miserable campaign so far, arrived at the Rose Bowl today still hoping the Little Master would be fit to take part in the second NatWest Series match.
Instead Tendulkar discovered in his meeting with a London surgeon that he will play no part in the remaining four matches, having been prescribed at least a month’s rest after the recurrence of an old injury to his right big toe.
The 38-year-old therefore becomes the eighth member of a touring party - which arrived two months ago as the number one Test team and World Cup winners - to leave early because of injury.
Tendulkar himself had high hopes of posting the world’s first 100th international hundred. But the nearest he came was his second-innings 91 in the fourth npower Test at the Kia Oval, and his wait will go on now at least until India face England in Hyderabad in the first of five one-day internationals in October.
His and his team-mates’ ’summer that never was’ amounted to his worst ever series average in England, including just two half-centuries, and a shock 4-0 Test defeat which saw the hosts usurp India at the top of the International Cricket Council rankings.
Tendulkar may yet return to England to help contest the inaugural World Test Championship in 2013 - but that is dependent on his own fitness, India’s retention of a place in the top four nations and confirmation of the event itself.
After that, a Test tour in 2014 would be his next chance - at the age of 41. It fell to India opener Parthiv Patel and team manager Shivlal Yadav to publicly confirm Tendulkar’s absence this afternoon.
“I’ve been told he’s been ruled out of the series,” said the former.
Yadav added: “It’s four to six weeks. So we know he’s not there for this series. It was the injury that he had in 2002 and it flared up in Durham.
“He went to a specialist in London, and we got the news he would not be taking any further part in the one-day series and he might need rest for four to six weeks.”
India’s catalogue of high-profile injuries - Rohit Sharma’s broken finger at the Emirates Durham ICG two days ago was the latest - means they are left with bare bones, top heavy with bowlers over batsmen, for the last two weeks of their tour.
They have already responded to Tendulkar’s unavailability by calling up Subramaniam Badrinath, while batsman Manoj Tiwary is expected to arrive tomorrow and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja soon afterwards.
Their options are nonetheless significantly compromised. But Patel, fresh from his career-best 95 in Saturday’s rainy no result at the Riverside, is phlegmatic.
“It’s something not in our control and which we can’t do anything about,” he said.
“We just have to try to make sure we make the use of all our resources.
“You can’t fill the shoes of Sachin, no matter who you are - so that’s obviously a big loss. But it will be a good opportunity for youngsters to prove themselves.”
Tendulkar’s status as an all-time great goes without saying, and Patel is convinced too that captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will continue to motivate his team admirably in adversity.
He said of the Little Master: “I don’t think he has anything to prove against anyone at all. “His stats speak for themselves. Even he can’t do anything about injury.”
On Dhoni, he added: “The captain always plays a big role, whether he has senior players with him or not. I think he’s done really well to keep the morale high in the dressing room.”
India’s depleted batting ranks inevitably place extra responsibility on those left behind, and confined to the indoor nets today as bad weather - which spared England’s practice this morning - duly conspired against the tourists.
Patel is confident he can rise to the challenge against opponents who have already made clear their intention to keep India on the back foot.
“I had the advantage of watching England bowling in the Test matches, and they obviously had the plan of bowling short to our batsmen,” he continued.
“Before coming here, I was in the nets for seven or eight days working on short balls - because I knew if I was going to play I would be opening the batting.
“Obviously they will come hard at me with the short balls. But I’ve worked on it. I don’t think I need to change my game at all.
“If we are playing a batsman short you need to take the responsibility. It’s every individual’s responsibility to make sure that if he gets in he goes on and scores big runs.”