England win in India, but is it farewell to Sachin Tendulkar?

Dec 17, 2012

Centuries for Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell cap a remarkable turnaround for England's cricketers

ENGLAND'S cricketers secured their first series win in India for 28 years after drawing the fourth Test in Nagpur thanks to centuries on the final day for batsmen Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell.

England began the day in a potentially precarious position at 161 for 3, a lead of 165. But Trott and Bell went calmly about their business and batted India out of the game with a partnership of 208 runs before Trott fell for 143. When the tourists eventually declared on 352 for 4, with Bell undefeated on 116, a draw was agreed. It meant that the four-match series ended in a 2-1 win for England.

England captain and man of the series Alastair Cook said it had been a "special day and a special tour" as cricket belatedly joined the 2012 sporting party after a lacklustre year in which England lost their captain, much of their aura and the number one Test ranking.

"As an individual event this torturous Test match will not linger long in the memory, but for what the end result enabled England to achieve will be chronicled as one of the team's finest hours," noted Cricinfo. The turnaround in England's fortunes after a largely miserable year and heavy defeat in the first Test was "extraordinary" it added.

India did not put up much of a fight on the final day on a pitch described as an "abomination" by Michael Atherton in The Times.

And according to Vic Marks in The Guardian: "It all ended with a whimper, a wonderful whimper for the England tourists. For them the last day was delightfully devoid of tension."

He described England's new captain, Cook, as the "inspiration" for the the comeback. But despite his heroics and the efforts of Trott and Bell, much of the post-match discussion centred on the future of another batsman, Sachin Tendulkar.

The legendary Indian is now 39 and endured a miserable series and there have been calls for him to retire. He took little part in the final day after hurting his shoulder while fielding. He went off for treatment "never to be sighted again on a gloomy day for Indian cricket," said the Guardian.

In the Times, Atherton suggested that Tendulkar had deliberately made himself scarce. "Perhaps sensing the situation, Tendulkar decided to spike the ability of the cameras to back up the commentary [on his retirement] by gingerly feeling his neck and his shoulders a couple of times - as if carrying the hopes of a nation for two decades had finally taken its toll - and then walking off the field."

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The writer must probably be unaware of the level of sycophancy plaguing Indian cricket at present. Sachin Tendulkar has been hailed as a "cricketing God" for years by the Indian media.

He is a great batsman, no doubt about it. But any observer will admit that he is clearly past his prime. He has been struggling to survive in tailor-made domestic pitches, how can he be expected to perform against pace attacks in Australia, South Africa and England?

We need to re-build the Indian team by introducing fresh talent and grooming them for the future. Ideally Sachin should retire or the Indian selectors should take a stand, but unfortunately nothing like that will happen. A couple of victories by the Indian team in the future and the current debacle will be conveniently forgotten like always.