I don't duck matches: Sachin

Published: Tuesday, February 15, 2000, 23:53 [IST]
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"I have been playing international cricket for over 10 years now, and I have never ducked any home matches, except for compelling reasons," said Sachin Tendulkar, while speaking to Thatscricket.com in Mumbai on Saturday.

"Whatever the match, if I am free and commited to play, I never turn my back," he added.

It was a typically mild reaction from the world's best batsman, to criticism by Gujarat officials on his pulling out of the Challenger series, an annual exercise in discovering and recognising talented cricketers. Narhari Amin, president of the Gujarat Cricket Association, the hosts of the four-day tournament in which three sides -- India Seniors, "A" and "B" teams -- participated, had in particular hit out at Tendulkar for missing the matches, saying he badly needed rest.

"Rest, what rest! There are more than 10 days before and after the series for rest. Players like Tendulkar ought to be playing in the Challenger," said Amin on the eve of the tournament. "The up-and-coming players have missed a great chance to play against him."

The Gujarat Cricket Association may have missed a few marquee names, but some of these players were either injured or needed a break after the 75-day tour of Australia, which wasn't a very happy one either.

"I am always very eager to play because I believe that the more you play, the better you become," said Tendulkar, asserting that if he is not playing for the country, he never misses domestic matches, not even the zonal Ranji games.

Refusing to be drawn into a discussion on any controversial point, Tendulkar said that he did not have any prejudice against any player. "If a man is good enough to be selected to play for the country, well that's it. After all, picking players is the job of the selectors," he said

The selection committee meets in Mumbai on February 20 to pick the squad for the first Test against South Africa, to be played at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, from February 24 to 28.

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