Shenanigans aside, Sachin Tendulkar's 200th is a mouth-watering prospect

A man playing his 200th Test match would make for a very historic occasion indeed. You, of course, have to be Tendulkar to stand a chance of pulling off such an achievement.

Updated: September 09, 2013 17:31 IST
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I didn't think there would be occasion to write about Sachin Tendulkar, at least until India went to South Africa. As it is, no one's quite sure yet if India are going to South Africa at all. But here we are, discussing - no, not his retirement, for a change - but what he, simply by being who he is, has done to the international cricket schedule.

Some people say that the reason BCCI has chosen to play hardball with Cricket South Africa is Haroon Lorgat. It could also be one of the other reasons people in the know have put out in the public domain. Though I'm not the big expert on cricket politics and boardroom shenanigans, I choose not to concur. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but as far as I can see, the rescheduling is mainly for the benefit of the Little Big Man. If I am right - and there's no one out there who is likely to confirm or contradict that - then it's terrible. The cricket world cannot be held to ransom for one man. Still, I have to admit, it's also exciting.

A man playing his 200th Test match would make for a very historic occasion indeed. You, of course, have to be Tendulkar to stand a chance of pulling off such an achievement. And when the people running the show are the dollar-eyed BCCI men, it becomes too lucrative a chance to pass up.

Think about it. Tendulkar - the Little Master, the Master Blaster, the God of All Things in Indian cricket - taking guard in a Test match for the 200th time. It will be an advertising Mardi Gras. For all you know, we might have double decker in-stadia billboards, the time between overs could well be increased by 30 seconds when he is at the crease, and there may well be no vacant space showing just a patch of grass on our TV screens when the game is on. And you can bet the official broadcasters will have a Sachin Cam. It'll be raining money!

We are often quick to blame the BCCI for making every decision with money as its sole motive. But it has to be admitted that this is the sort of opportunity no administrative body could turn away from.

On another note, to watch Tendulkar face up to Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel is the sort of thing I would have given anything for a few seasons ago, when Tendulkar was still the batsman he once was. His adoring mass of fans might disagree, but he isn't at the top of his game anymore and, I suspect, a scrap against Steyn-Philander-Morkel will now be somewhat mismatched. I don't want to be offensive and say that Tendulkar is only good enough to take on the rather average West Indies attack these days. But there's no denying that it provides him with a better chance to ring in the big occasion in style.

So yes, to sum it up, I am quite thrilled that Tendulkar will be playing his 200th Test at home. It will be an occasion to cherish ... an 'I was there' moment if there ever was one. Of course, I wish India still played a full Test series in South Africa though; it would have made for engrossing viewing. The two, I wish, were mutually exclusive.

But there are still a couple of things I don't like at all:

# That the BCCI, despite being aware of the schedule for years and figuring out by the end of the Test series against Australia in March that Tendulkar had played 198 Tests and would be in South Africa for his 200th, took this long to make up its mind

# That the BCCI feels it's okay to tamper with the policy of rotation of venues to ensure that one of either Mumbai or Kolkata get to host the big match; Mumbai because it's Tendulkar's home venue and Kolkata because it's the most iconic of Indian Test venues and, well, who knows if a certain Jagmohan Dalmiya's presence in the scheme of things played a role

The BCCI doesn't bother with seeking permission from anyone about anything, and there's zilch anyone can do about it, but it would have been nice if it had come out with a statement saying that it wanted to host Tendulkar's 200th Test in India and could it please ...

To return to SRT now, and while there was speculation that the 200th Test was being arranged in India so that he could retire after, I think that's far from the truth. Ravi Shastri has gone on to say that Tendulkar "will not quit the game so soon as you all keep saying", adding that "he would continue to play and you may see him at Lord's next year too". That might be stretching it, but the Test series against South Africa, if it happens, and New Zealand, which will most certainly happen, are likely to have Tendulkar walking in to bat at No. 4 for India.

Will he retire after that? Again, who are we to say? It's up to the man himself, and up to the selectors, if they feel he is playing on borrowed time, to sort it out with him. For the moment, I am mighty chuffed that the double to beat all cricketing doubles will be in India. And though I am a Kolkata boy, I'll go with that big old Kolkata boy - Sourav Ganguly - who recently said: "It would be the biggest thing if Tendulkar gets to play the 200th Test in Mumbai purely on emotional grounds. He has all his friends and family members there."

Needless to add, I'll be joining the Tendulkar fans in hoping that we get an innings of class from the man in that game.

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