Mumbai : The encomiums showered on Sachin Tendulkar don’t seem to stop after his hundredth hundred. Soon after Richard Levi, the new opening batsman of Mumbai Indians thanked Tendulkar for encouraging him, came another compliment, this time from across the border.
In a statement, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari who is to visit Ajmer on Sunday, has thanked Tendulkar saying, “Everywhere I go, people ask me, Oh you are from Pakistan, the neighbour of the country where Sachin Tendulkar lives. Wow, you must be so lucky. They ask me if Pakistanis regularly visit Mumbai, which is Sachin’s home. I tell them yes, some people from Karachi went last on 26/11/2008. Thankyou Sachin for all the pleasure.”
Meanwhile, Tendulkar’s comment that he is available for 2015 World Cup has caused a flutter. Sachin’s spokesman said, “Sachin is available for 2015 and 2019 World Cups. He will later confirm his availability for the 2023 World Cup.” If he does indeed play in 2023, Sachin will create history by becoming the oldest cricketer to play in the World Cup – at the age of 50.
“If ageing film stars can act in one or two films a year, Sachin too can play and hit one century every year,” said Ganpat Kamble, president of Tendulkar Fan Club in Worli, Mumbai.
Reports suggest that Sachin Tendulkar will become a permanent player in the Indian cricket team even if he chooses to retire. Efforts are on to use Sharad Pawar’s good offices to get the ICC to frame new rules. Like a non-playing captain in Davis Cup, there would be a non-playing player accompanying the team. The player will motivate the team by his presence. But if the need arises, he will step in to bat or bowl as well.
“No, he will not field, as that will not help the team in any way,” said a BCCI official.
Mumbai Indians management has supported the idea that Sachin should play for ever. “He is the true Mahatma Gandhi of Indian cricket, relinquishing all positions of authority,” said Nita Ambani, in a reference to Tendulkar’s decision to pass on the mantle of captaincy to Harbhajan Singh.
Meanwhile, Sourav Ganguly is reported to have told BCCI president N Srinivasan that if there is space for a non-playing player in the Indian team, he would like to make a comeback.
(Contributed by Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy and Painting by Kamal Kamaraju)