In a bid to have Sachin Tendulkar play his landmark 200th Test in India, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have proposed to squeeze in a home series against the West Indies before the team heads to South Africa for a grueling tour. While it bodes well with the sentiments of a billion people in India, Prakash Govindasreenivasan opines that the move will clearly a step back with respect to the South Africa tour.
For once it seemed like the BCCI were on track when a full strength India A side was sent to South Africa for an extensive tour to get acclimatised with the unfavourable conditions that the senior team is set to face in November. Despite being in transition for a long time now, India began to seem confident of doing well in South Africa where Australia and England were recently battered and bruised. However, in a move to please the emotional public and probably give the country’s most loved cricketer a farewell at home, the board has erred by squeezing in a home series before the tour of South Africa.
The move also brings to life the conspiracy theorists who will start to pin accusations against the board, and even on Tendulkar for being self-centered in this matter.
From the recent BCCI announcement, two crucial points have come across: 1) BCCI wants Tendulkar to play his 200th Test in front of his home crowd 2) Tendulkar might announce his retirement post the West Indies series and to do it in front of the home crowd would be a fitting end.
Whether or not he would hang up his boots, the rescheduling comes at a wrong time. For the sake of one individual — probably the biggest one in the annals of Indian cricket — to put a South African tour in jeopardy may not end well. Critics will come out of their deep slumber and dish out clichés like ‘a player is not bigger than a team’ while the BCCI will continue to defend their stance on it. It is true that Tendulkar deserves a grand farewell, but surely not at the expense of an important tour.
Going by the earlier schedule, India were to play one T20 and seven ODIs against Australia before heading to South Africa. The home series against Australia was to end by November 2, with the South African tour commencing on November 21. According to the later development, a two-Test home series is set to be played between these two dates. This would result in a jaded Indian side traveling to a country that boasts of arguably the most devastating fast bowling attack in the modern day game coupled with some of the best batsmen. In the 19 day-gap between the two tournaments, India could be robbed of close to 12-15 days and be left with almost no time for rest or to regroup before heading the Rainbow nation.
With this move, the BCCI’s shortsightedness has made an unexpected reappearance. They had been doing well in the recent past with their team selections and giving youngsters ample opportunity, but this move comes as step back for the team.
The fans in India will rejoice the fact that they will get to watch their favourite cricketer from such close quarters, probably for one last time, but the repercussions of this will be borne by the team that is on the plane to South Africa.
(Prakash Govindasreenivasan is a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @PrakashG_89)