Who will tell Tendulkar when it's time to go?

Selectors may fear reprisals if they retire the little master.

Selectors may fear reprisals if they retire the little master.

LET'S be honest just for a minute. Players of today realise there is a huge amount of money to be earned in cricket and they will play for as long as possible to reap every penny.

These guys will play until they are 50 if they are allowed to. The penny has finally dropped as cricket boards around the world are realising this. They also are really concerned about when is the best and right time to retire star players. The response from fans and sponsors are very unpredictable when they retire a player too early.

Father time waits for no one, including cricketing greats Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar. Both are looking tired of the 50-over format of the game and this week enough was enough for the Australian selectors, who axed Ponting.

India, on the other hand, has no selector with the courage to stand up to Tendulkar and tell him his ODI days are over, no matter how badly he might be playing. People are worried that their homes, cars and property could be damaged if they were seen to have removed Tendulkar against his will. He will keep playing for as long as he likes and thus lies the problem for India.

Ponting and Tendulkar are massive ''brands'' in their own right. If you kill off their careers too early, potential sponsors will pull out of cricket on a national basis, particularly in India. Care and compassion must be shown for these two greats, but the team must always come first.

First signs of impending retirement for any great is in his footwork, whether in the field, or at the crease.

Ponting has been a wonderful player in the one-day format. Australia has been blessed with so many great one-day players over the years, but no one has been better than Ponting. No one!

Ponting has done it all, his highest honour being a triple World Cup champion. He has won man-of-the-match awards in finals and has averaged one man-of-the-match award in every 10 ODI games he has played.

Tendulkar is another great of ODI cricket. Maybe he is the greatest ODI batsmen of all time, or if not, the equal of the king of ODI cricket, Viv Richards.

Indian vultures are starting to circle over Tendulkar's head, but who will have the courage to end his career? He is looking in average form and is consistently putting his team under the pump with some poor dismissals at the top of the order. Mind you, it was only 12 months ago that he made an unbeaten 200 in ODI cricket. How time flies, with the great man looking vulnerable facing the two new white balls on bouncing Australian pitches.

Tendulkar has averaged winning a man-of-the-match award in every seven ODIs to prove his dominance over a 458-game career.

It is amazing how time has changed the order of power in world cricket today. It was only 10 months ago that India was No. 1 in both Test and ODI cricket. M. S. Dhoni was king of the cricketing world and now he has critics all over the place. In his homeland, past Indian greats are saying his days are numbered as captain. They believe that, after so many Test losses away from home, it is time India had a new Test captain. However, the consensus is that Dhoni should stay on as the ODI and Twenty20 captain.

With so much money and opportunities for players around the world today, many believe they still have something to offer. After watching so much ODI and Twenty20 cricket over the past 12 months, and watching some average cricket, I have even entertained a comeback myself, even if it was just for a few seconds.

After spending most of your life as a professional cricketer, it is very hard to say goodbye to the game and its money. So where do these greats go to retire? Many of them might not want to coach or commentate. So what do they want to do?

I have often wondered what Ponting and Tendulkar will do in life? I have no clue, and I suspect, neither do they. So why not keep playing?

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