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Tendulkar, at 39, can't afford another injury break

In the normal course of events, the 39th birthday isn't special. Neither in myth nor mythology does the number hold any significance. But when it's Sachin Tendulkar's 39th birthday -- the man -- not the number, takes over.

Many would be prompted to ask what next for Tendulkar? Well, the obvious answer would be 40. But look a little deeper and it's a question that we all have at the back of our minds. In the past century, we have had cricketers like Wilfred Rhodes, who played his last Test at the grand old age of 52. And he was still good enough to cut it for a few years more.

Which format will Sachin Tendulkar to continue playing? Image courtesy AFP

On the Indian side, the oldest Test cricketer ever was Vinoo Mankad, who played his last Test when he was 41. In recent times though, cricketers have been getting younger when they hung up their boots. The last Test cricketer to play beyond the age of 40 was England's Alec Stewart -- and he retired in 2003, almost a decade ago.

But the difference between him and Tendulkar is that the latter has played international cricket for 23 years. So what does the future hold for him and other members of the veteran league?

Sourav Ganguly has shown that the IPL might offer the perfect cooling period as well as some easy money. But for the moment, Tendulkar is happy to keep playing and we are happy to keep watching him play.

"I believe Sachin needs to concentrate on just one form of cricket. He can probably decide on that himself. But when we think of Sachin, we think of Sachin the Test batsman. That's what the best memories are made up of and the only way I see him playing Tests for a while longer is by concentrating on the longer format," said one of the India's finest cricket writers, Ayaz Memon.

The decision may also be influenced by the appearance of someone who is good enough to take his place in the team. Injuries may also take their toll on a body that takes that little bit longer to recuperate and recover. Each time he gets injured, he seems to take a little longer to get back to his best.

"That is true as well. The moment Tendulkar believes he has someone good enough to take over from him, expect him to promote that talent. I also firmly believe that when Tendulkar believes he has outlived his usefulness, he will go,' added Ayaz.

Watch Sports Editor Ashish Magotra and Ayaz Memon discuss what Sachin Tendulkar's 39th birthday means beyond the numbers, the facts and the deeds.

Updated Date: Apr 24, 2012 18:19 PM

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