New Delhi: Former England captain Geoffrey Boycott feels a poor series against Australia could force Sachin Tendulkar to retire from all forms of cricket as the world doesn't want to see the Indian "embarrass" himself with repeated failures. "He desperately needs some runs against Australia in the Test matches in March, because I don't think any of us want to see him embarrass himself with more failures after failure," Boycott said.
"If he doesn't get runs against Australia, I'm reasonably confident that he'll see the light and call his own retirement. But you cross your fingers and hope he can get some," Boycott told Cricinfo.
One of the game's all-time greats, Tendulkar had, on Sunday, announced his retirement from one-day cricket, bringing to an end a glorious 23-year-old career in the format in which he rewrote numerous batting records. Boycott called Tendulkar's decision a reasonable and sensible one. "It's very sad, it's a fact of life, that more of us, as we get older, we have to accept we just can't do what we used to do. There's no fun in accepting that, there's no fun in believing it. There's no fun in having to say it gets easier, because it doesn't get easier. It can't. So for him, it's tough, is one-day [cricket]. As wonderful as he's been, we can't live on the memories. He's 39, and so I think giving up is very responsible and sensible.”
Asked if India needed Tendulkar more in the Test format, Boycott said, "I'm not sure it's about what India needs most, I think it's about what's best for Sachin. At this stage of his career, he's done well for himself and he's done well for his country. I think he has to do what's best for him because if he plays better, whatever format of cricket, it's going to help the team he plays for, which is India. That's the most important thing."
"He [Tendulkar] hasn't played in the T20s for India for a while. ODI cricket, today, in the modern game, has become so physically demanding on the player's body, even 50 overs. As much as we all love Sachin, me included, he's never been an outstanding athlete in the field. He's never let anybody down, he's been competent, but nobody could ever call him a top outfielder," Boycott said.
The Yorkshireman further said, "So, as he gets older, like all of us, me included, he just can't run as fast as a youngster, he can't dive around. Not that he was a great diver but when you do dive around in the modern day - as you are expected to; it's a modern phenomenon - he's going to hurt himself a bit more. As you get older, you're going to fall the wrong way, your body hurts more, it bruises easier - it's nature taking over.
"He can now focus on staying fit, playing as much zonal cricket as he can - and that's important, trying to get some runs in that, which shouldn't be too difficult. You know [in domestic cricket] they're not as good as him. Even now, when he's past his zenith, he's still better than them. And he needs form. Form means runs, runs means confidence, and then he can play against Australia in March.
Asked whether Tendulkar had played a role in transforming the 50-over format, Boycott's opinion centered on the Indian's longevity. "Longevity more than anything. There have been other outstanding one-day cricketers, like there have been outstanding Test players. But it's the longevity, and playing in all countries and playing well. That's it.
"It's easy to get sucked into believing, when he's playing in the current day and doing well, that they're the best player ever. Hang on. That's being disrespectful to all the eras of cricket and all the players who've gone before. Sachin will be up there with the greatest in Test cricket and one-day cricket, but let's not forget there have been other players. So it's his longevity and playing exceptionally well all over the world."
Tendulkar amassed 18,426 runs in 463 one-dayers at an average of 44.83. He also had an astonishing 49 ODI hundreds, including a double hundred - the first in this form of the game.