Criticism apart, is there really a replacement ready for Sachin Tendulkar?

Yet again Sachin Tendulkar will get an opportunity to score the most anticipated century on Sunday. If he gets one, people will go ga-ga over his 100th hundred and media will allot most of the sports pages in eulogizing the Master Blaster and if he fails, there will be talks emanating from various quarters about his diminishing reactions, his aging body, with suggestions galore for the champion to say a final goodbye to the shorter format of the game.

Agreed, India have had disastrous overseas tours in England and Australia and the need to have fresh legs in the side haven’t been more than it is today. Agreed, cricket is a game where everything depends on one’s reflexes and that diminish with age. Agreed over 22 years of cricket is a long time. But then how one justifies Sachin’s omission from the team.

Take Sachin's recent performance in Australia. Even at a time when India failed miserably on the batting front, Sachin was still the second highest scorer for India. His Test batting average is still an envious 55.44 and his ODI average of 45.16 over 442 innings is phenomenal. And it's only a matter of time before he scores his hundredth international century. Thus, no one can accuse Sachin of weighing the team down.

Going by our team’s performance it can be said that we can’t afford to lose Tendulkar. The way he has been playing, he still looks one of the best batsmen in the team.  We still aren’t ready for his retirement from any format. He has inspired Team India on so many occasions and we know that he will continue to do that. No disrespect to Sourav Ganguly, but finding even his replacement has been tough till now. God knows where will India get the replacement for the Little Master all of a sudden.  

This is not to say that the Indian cricket board shouldn't have a transition plan in place. The Test series losses in England and Australia have highlighted the need fresh blood in the team. However, this transition needs to be managed properly. In that sense, Sachin's presence in the team is both a source of inspiration and guidance. And even if a place in the team is determined on purely performance basis, Sachin still makes the grade.

People think he is being affected by the numbers game, namely his 100th international century. Many even think he is playing in the ODIs for the record. But then one must know that that the tournaments he has chosen to play only just that it’s the love of the game that’s driving him on, not the lure of personal records. He has generally skipped ODIs at home and in the subcontinent - (Asia Cup and Tri-series in Sri Lanka (2010), New Zealand (2010), West Indies (2011) — and opted for more challenging away series in South Africa, England (pulled out due to injury) and the current series.

So why is this fuss about? Why do we expect him to score a ton and be a match winner whenever he walks onto the field? Why does he get criticised for even his well made 30s, 40s and 50s? Why is he being blamed for the disastrous showing in the Test matches in England and Australia? What are the other 10 guys doing in the team? The so called critics, who might not have played even an iota of the innings that the Little Master has in his career, vie for his blood at the throw of a hat.

Let us not forget Sachin is a genius, a legend. He is a God-gifted talent who has entertained us for over 20 years. Players like him come once in a generation. Cool and restrained, he has carried the burden of Indian cricket team for long. So let this legend take a call on his retirement all by his own.

Indian Sports News