Till such time as he abdicates the throne Sachin Tendulkar remains the sovereign of cricket. In that capacity it is only natural that his kingdom defers to his whims and yields to his fancies. Currently, there is some disquiet in India and parts of the cricketing world over a decision by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
In what is seen by cricket writers as a self-serving sleight of hand the BCCI has slotted a two-Test match series against the West Indies in November this year with the sole purpose of facilitating Tendulkar to play his 200th Test match in India. Most likely the venues for the two matches will be chosen such that the 200th Test takes place in Mumbai, Tendulkar’s home.
It is obvious that the BCCI has been motivated by the symbolism of Tendulkar likely ending his Test cricket career with 200th game at home. Of course, there are no guarantees that Tendulkar would announce his retirement from the five-day game with his 200th appearance. Cricket in any form, Test, one-day or Twenty20, is now as much about the sport as it is about its enormous commercial potential. There are those who think greed is powering this decision to pull a random Test series out of some corner of the BCCI.
Cricket writers point out that Tendulkar would have had a perfect opportunity to make his landmark appearance against a scheduled series against South Africa, regarded as the world’s best team. However the BCCI in its peculiar wisdom decided to slot a quick series against the West Indies in November in what looks like an arrangement tailor-made for Tendulkar.
There is, of course, nothing particularly significant about the number 200 other than the silly human weakness for well-rounded landmarks. It would be interesting to see if Tendulkar manages to score high in his 200th appearance, particularly because statisticians point out that he has not scored a century for the past 38 Test innings. It would be a neat conclusion to an epic career for him to score a double century in the 200th test. In fact, I would recommend that he score precisely 200 and declare his innings. That way he can satisfy the lust for silly symbolism that often characterizes his subjects.
In so much as anything can be ordained in cricket, here is a scenario Tendulkar might consider. Let him hit his trademark blistering straight drive past the bowler and score a boundary to complete his double century, take off his helmet, raise his bat skyward and then walk off the field amid a deafening standing ovation. Let there be a shower of marigold and roses even as Tutari players offer a pitch-perfect finale to the steady accompaniment of the Dhol. Let Lavni dancers in their nauvaris escort him back to the pavilion. How about that?