Sachin Tendulkar has said he knows when to quit the game. He was responding to calls from former cricketers who wanted him to leave the One Day International arena after winning the World Cup last year. However, Tendulkar has hit back at his critics and has even hinted that he might think of featuring in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
This statement by Tendulkar is music to his fans. But, is it left to an individual to decide on his playing career or is it the selection committee's prerogative to pick or drop a player?
It is a known fact to any cricket follower that a cricketer's India career is in selectors hands. It is always the selection committee, comprising of five former players, that deliberates and chooses the best possible team to represent India. The committee is headed by Kris Srikkanth, who was Tendulkar's first captain at the international stage in 1989.
Does that yardstick apply to Tendulkar? Yes, of course. He is also chosen by the selection committee to play for India. One cannot remember Tendulkar being dropped from the team for lack of runs. He has been omitted from national duties due to various injuries during his 22-year international journey.
When one has to decide Tendulkar's future, the nation always feels that selectors have no role to play. The selectors and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) do not have courage to ignore Tendulkar.
Despite a string of poor scores in the tri-series in Australia, Tendulkar was included in the Indian squad for Asia Cup. And he eventually reached that historic landmark of 100 international centuries against Bangladesh.
Since Tendulkar has made it public, his intentions of continuing in the 50-over format, we might see a 41-year-old Tendulkar turning out in the blue jersey in the 2015 World Cup.
The selectors need to show that they are taking Indian cricket forward. If Tendulkar picks and chooses what ODI series he plays, what is the message the BCCI and selectors are sending to other talented youngsters in the country.
Can any other Indian batting stalwart be offered such a treatment. What about the recently retired Rahul Dravid. He too could have played more in the shorter version but when he was dropped they had the usual justification of "giving chance to youngsters."
Tendulkar is not getting any younger by the day. He can continue playing Tests but the captain MS Dhoni himself admitted that having seniors, including Tendulkar, was a liability in fielding. Dhoni had called Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar as "slow" in the field which was costing the team about 20 to 30 runs.
It is the same selectors who saw Tendulkar's talent as a 16-year-old and gave him the break at the international level in 1989. And now, a new set of selectors don't have the guts to make a bold decision.
One of the selectors in the present panel, Mohinder Amarnath, once famously called the selection committee as "a bunch of jokers" in November, 1988. And he is now one of them.
Amarnath was one of the former cricketers, who wanted Tendulkar to retire from ODIs after India were sent packing from the first round of the 2007 World Cup.
It is fair to say that it is up to the selection committee to pick a player or dump him. It is not the player who decides when to leave. Time for some hard thinking for the Indian selectors. May be India should learn from Australia how they dealt with Ricky Ponting.