Mumbai, Dec. 24 -- It's rare that a sportsperson gets his timing right when it comes to retirement. And Sachin Tendulkar is no exception.
When Indian cricket's favourite son bid farewell to One-day internationals, he woke everyone up on a lazy Sunday morning. But wait, the he has been making only sporadic appearances in the 50-over format - having featured in just 21 matches in the last two years, when India have played 50.
So what was the need for Tendulkar to bid adieu from one format when his entire career is on the final stretch?
As India's humiliating Test series loss against England was getting final touches in Nagpur, many pundits believed it would be the final glimpse of Tendulkar in flannels. Surely, the end was nigh for the master, they felt. But Tendulkar doesn't think so. By calling time on his ODI career, he has only dismissed the clamour that he should end his marathon 23-year international career.
So what's next for Tendulkar?
Surely, he will play the Indian Premier League for the Mumbai Indians in April - he turns 40 on April 24 - but before that it would be interesting to see whether Tendulkar wants to play against Australia when Michael Clarke's men come calling in February. If he does, then it would be a clear indication that he wants to rise from the slump of two years and leave on a high.
Rarely have sports stars in any field managed this. Ask Michael Schumacher or Ian Thorpe.
Former skipper Rahul Dravid had an interesting take about the timing of Tendulkar's retirement.
Getting timing right
Dravid, who earlier this year called it quits after two months of introspection following the debacle in Australia, felt that Tendulkar should also sit down and assess where he is going and conceded there are not many people who can take a call on Tendulkar's career.
"He is a great player and this period has been difficult for him. He is a proud man and this (poor series against England) would have hurt him. He himself will have to think about a few things because I'm not sure there are many people who can take the decisions for Tendulkar," he said.
For Tendulkar, with a two-month break ahead before Australia arrive by February end, it is time to sit back and introspect. As Dravid said, Tendulkar, if he believes he can be around when India make the trips to South Africa and New Zealand late next year, then he has to fight it out.
"If he at any stage doubts himself and believes that he can't, then he's got to start thinking about his career and about the future of Indian cricket as well. So it's really going to be up to him," Dravid felt.
Two other outstanding contributors to Indian cricket, Javagal Srinath and VVS Laxman both believe that Tendulkar still has it in him to continue in Tests. "It was an absolute pleasure to watch him bat in ODIs. He was the one who infused aggression into the game and you can say that he was a game-changer. It was a privilege to share the dressing room with him. The good thing is that he will still play Tests," said Srinath.
No doubt it's a difficult time being Tendukar any way one looks at it. He is a victim of his own standards. But sentiment should not be allowed to influence a decision that involves the nation's aspirations and Tendulkar must throw out emotion before he arrives at the big decision.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.