Sachin Tendulkar playing 200 Test matches will be an enormous feat in international cricket but it should not be done at a cost of spoiling relations between India and South Africa, says Geoffrey Boycott. The former England Test great feels Tendulkar's milestone match should not have been a reason for the Board of Control for Cricket in India to curtail the duration of the tour to South Africa. (Read: Wasim Akram hopes Sachin plays his last Test against Pakistan)
Officials between the two cricket Boards will meet in Dubai on September 16 and 17 to discuss the itinerary. The BCCI had rejected the itinerary announced by South Africa in July, which had India touring for three Tests, seven ODIs and two T20s between November and January. The tour's schedule remains in limbo now, with the BCCI having since announced the dates for other series (against West Indies) which overlap with India versus South Africa itinerary.
"I believe India have to fulfil their obligations. South Africa have sponsors. They've already said where and when they're playing. What about their public and their players? Their cricketing public have a right to see India. Putting Sachin's reputation in this position is unworthy of the BCCI. Sachin is a good guy and a great batsman and he doesn't deserve a row between two cricketing countries to spoil his big day," Boycott told ESPNCricinfo in an audio interview.
The Afrikaans daily Beeld had earlier this week said the South African Board stands to lose about 300 million Rand (1 Rand = Rs 6.38) if the India tour is shortened, particularly from television broadcast rights. (Read more)
The 72-year-old Yorkshire legend feels India, world power in cricket, should be looked upon as a country of integrity and not one who go back on their word.
"When the BCCI gave their word to play three Test matches in South Africa, I don't think it's ever right to go back on your word. Whatever the reason, I don't care what it is. How would the Indian public react if it was done to them? You've always got to turn things around the other way.
"And I don't think it's good because India is the power of world cricket and they should use that power wisely and be seen as a country that can be held to its word. Had they kept their word, they would have been looked at as the powerhouse of cricket but with integrity," Boycott added. (Read: 'Cricket South Africa did not act unilaterally on India tour')
Regarding Tendulkar's impending retirement from the game, Boycott says, "There are three things that will determine his retirement from Tests - his desire, fitness and ability. When I continued to play Test till I was 41, I knew I wanted to go out there and play. I played Yorkshire cricket till I was 46. So the desire was there. Same should be the case with Sachin if wants to play. He has to remain fit. (Read: 'Brand Sachin has evolved beyond cricket')
"However, ability is something that weighs. Your ability to field, judge the length of the ball, it's like age, creeping up on you. Sachin, with an experience of 200 Tests, will be able to gauge how he is feeling and it will up to him to decide. He's been a truly great player. He's been a credit to cricket with his batting and the way he has conducted himself in the public spotlight. He and Lara have been the best in the last 30 years, by far," said Boycott.