The last England have seen of Sachin?
Posted in England in India 2012-13
When James Anderson dismissed Sachin Tendulkar for a record ninth time in Tests, there was a distinct possibility that was the last occasion the Little Master would bat against England. Now it is all but confirmed.
Tendulkar was bowled for two by an Anderson ball that kept low at Nagpur last Saturday, leaving him with 112 runs in six series innings. That the tourists denied India the chance to chase a victory target meant the 39-year-old was at least spared more criticism from a once overwhelmingly adoring Indian public.
After his first-innings 76 at Kolkata, Tendulkar’s next-best score in the four Tests with England was 13. Those returns led to clamour for him to at best retire and at worst be dropped.
Today the cat-callers got what they wished for, in part. Following 463 one-day internationals, featuring 49 centuries among 18,426 runs - all three world records - Tendulkar quit that format.
The diminutive right-handed batsman gracefully accepted he would not be part of the World Cup defence in 2015 and bowed out, allowing India plenty of time to find the right opening combination.
The end of his limited-overs international career - his only Twenty20 for India was in 2006 - does not betray poor 50-over form. His last two ODI innings, both in March at the Asia Cup, were 114 and 52. The former was a record 100th international hundred and the latter his 96th ODI fifty.
Regularly rested in ODI cricket, as he was for India’s last series in Sri Lanka during July and August, Tendulkar’s absence in three games with Pakistan and five versus England before the end of January will not in isolation seem strange.
Should he retain his fitness, Test place and appetite for the longest form of the game, he is next due to represent his country in four matches at home to Australia during February and March.
Sadly for England fans, India’s next Test with Alastair Cook’s side is in the summer of 2014. Will Tendulkar play in that series? If so, he will likely have to rediscover the touch that has earned him a record 51 five-day tons. With his last coming 18 Tests ago, he may need a 52nd when Australia tour to stay in the team.
It seems unlikely Tendulkar will play against England in two and a half years, by which time he will be 41.
Whenever his Test career ends, hopefully it will be on his terms - even if it is without a fairytale finish. Any other way would not befit the gentleman the international game’s most prolific scorer is.