It’s been a while since we met — while you were playing with Yorkshire I seem to remember — but I hope you will allow me to offer you a piece of advice.
I am sorry to see you are not scoring as heavily as usual and, as 40 comes on to the horizon, that is bound to bring reports of your impending retirement from a great career by writers, fellow cricketers, retired players and people you have not even met. Take no notice. You decide.
In his final days with England Alec Stewart handled it brilliantly. He set a date for his final appearance and that stopped all the speculation and allowed him to concentrate on his cricket. You should tell the selectors when you intend to play your final match and they will not, surely, refuse to allow you that last privilege.
Not that any of us want to see you go. Only you can select the right moment because you are the only person on earth who knows how much you want to continue or whether you sense that your best days are behind you.
Thank you for your best days, Sachin. They have been without equal.
I will never forget that first century at Old Trafford, spectacular in its concentrated effort, particularly for a lad of 17. My guess is that you will rank it highly among your many great innings. Neither will I ever forget that big hundred at Sydney when you belaboured Merv Hughes at the end and when Hughes and Dean Jones ran half the length of the ground to shake your hand as the Indian innings ended.
Anyone would be proud of such an achievement but of course there have been many others and luckily most of us guessed that would be true when you began. I had a conversation with Sunil Gavaskar at the time and he forecast then that you would pass all the targets of centuries and aggregate runs that have now come your way.
Off the field conduct
Thank you too for the way you have conducted yourself off the field although none of us can criticise what you have done onfield.
In an era when there has been too much unpleasantness, when players confess to taking bribes, to making low scores or losing deliberately, you have been a supreme example of the way a good sportsman should conduct his life.
It does not have to be modest, or self-deprecating; sporting success should be enjoyed but you seem to have found the happy medium of trying hard for your team but offering a limited amount of showmanship so that the audience can appreciate how much your own performances mean to you.
Many claim to be surprised that you have not gone on to make huge scores — like Matthew Hayden and Brian Lara — but you have made enough centuries alone to place yourself in a distinguished class of your own.
Now is the time to decide just how much longer you can go on. Please don’t just hang around for the sake of another couple of Tests or another hundred runs or one more distinction. Lesser players can go for records for their own sake.
You have set such high standards you don’t need more wasted time at the crease although I hope you can see your way to finish in a way that you find satisfactory.
I am sure we — your admirers at home and overseas — will miss you when you have gone and may I wish you good luck whatever you decide.
All the best in the rest of your life,