New Delhi: Despite reports that the proposed home series against West Indies will offer the stage for Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement, Hindustan Times has reliably learnt that the batsman is keen to tour South Africa (itinerary still uncertain) and even New Zealand early next year for the two Tests.
Discussions with some of Tendulkar’s close aides and cricket Board officials though suggest that the Tests in November will give him an opportunity to bid goodbye to his home fans. “I’m pretty certain he is not looking forward to the next home season (in 2014-15)."
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“So, yes, the Tests against West Indies will be his last at home. And though BCCI is forced to stage these Tests because so much money is at stake, they have spoken to Sachin and MCA (Mumbai Cricket Association) to organise a final home Test,” said a former India teammate and close friend of Tendulkar.
Tendulkar calling time on his career will be a major decision and the feedback from the team management, and the opinion of the selectors and senior BCCI officials could also come into play.
“He hasn’t put a full stop on anything yet. He will take a call on touring England next year for the five Tests (in July-September) after the tours of South Africa, and maybe New Zealand. Don’t be surprised if he goes to England next July too,” he added.
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One BCCI official even threw in the possibility of Tendulkar playing another home Test, against England next year. “The ECB owes a lot of money to the BCCI - and there could be a Test or two organised at home against England next year. Another option is that the originally scheduled home series against West Indies (in November 2014) could be replaced by England. You never know -- if that happens and if he keeps on playing these Tests against West Indies won’t be his last at home.”
PREPARING FOR SA
Over the last few months, Tendulkar has told many friends about his keenness for a tough challenge in South Africa.
“He is actually looking forward to that series - that’s why these reports that he wants to quit at home are puzzling. He has been preparing for that series."
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“On the last tour there, he scored two centuries and knows he can perform at an optimum level again,” said a childhood friend.
Another aide brushed aside reports that Tendulkar wanted to go after playing 200 Tests. “He has not even thought of that landmark. With the WI series now under works, it just happens that his 200th Test will now be at home. He wasn’t planning it like that,” he said.