New Delhi: Doubts over the future of Sachin Tendulkar abound in the Indian media, with speculation rife that the Indian batting legend has told the BCCI selection panel that his fate lies in their hands. It was reported in several media outlets on Wednesday that Tendulkar, 39, had spoken to chief selector Sandeep Patil before Tuesday's selection meeting in Mumbai, but one BCCI official has denied hearing of this.
According to reports in two Indian newspapers, Tendulkar met with Patil and told him that he would leave it to the selectors to take call on his retirement due to his poor run in Test cricket. Another report claimed that the selectors approached Tendulkar and asked him about his retirement plans.
On Wednesday in Indore, BCCI secretary and senior selection panel convener Sanjay Jagdale was quoted by PTI as saying, simply: "I am not aware of it”. A cryptic response to a loaded question, and one from which it cannot be determined that the BCCI is unaware of any meeting between Tendulkar and the selectors, of Patil individually.
Cricketnext has not been able to confirm this news with the selectors, but it is widely being said that Patil and his four colleagues have given Tendulkar their support indicates. What all this does tell reveal is that there is a level of uncertainty behind closed doors, and that the issue of Tendulkar’s form and retirement.
Tendulkar, who completed 23 years in international cricket during the first Test against England in Ahmedabad, has failed to cross 30 in his last six Test innings, or score a half-century in ten innings, and four of his last six dismissals in the format have been bowled. In the ongoing series against England, he has scores of 13, 8 and 8 for a total of 29 runs in three innings. This lean patch dates back to the Sydney Test against Australia in January where he last scored a fifty.
Former India captains Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev has spoken out on the issue, with both agreeing that a dialogue was necessary between Tendulkar and the BCCI. “At the end of the day, it is the selectors who will take the call. I think the selectors will probably have a word with Tendulkar about what his future plans are and then take a call,” said Gavaskar to NDTV this week. “Ideally, whatever decision is taken about Tendulkar’s retirement, I believe he will make his own decision.”
Kapil echoed his former India team-mate and captain. “Either the selectors should speak to him or Sachin should himself have a word with them. The problem is that Sachin does not speak about it openly and the selectors have also been mum about it till now,” he told Aaj Tak. “This results in confusion amongst the fans and also invites criticism from everyone, especially when Sachin performs badly. Selectors should talk to him openly. He [Sachin] is a hero and one feels really bad to see fingers being pointed at him.”
Another former India captain, Rahul Dravid, has backed Tendulkar, telling Cricinfo that India need him now more than ever considering the series has been leveled 1-1 following an embarrassing defeat in Mumbai. “At 1-1 in a tight series, it's going to be very important for senior players to stand up and who better than Sachin to do that,” said Dravid.
Despite India’s ten-wicket defeat before lunch on day four in Mumbai, the new selection committee picked an unchanged 15-man squad for the third Test in Kolkata starting December 5, with only Umesh Yadav omitted due a back injury. The Eden Gardens fixture will be followed by the fourth and final Tests in Nagpur from December 13-17.
The selectors were scheduled to name the squads for the third and fourth Tests as well as the two Twenty20 internationals before England fly home for Christmas, but on Tuesday only announced the squad for Kolkata.