Is it time for Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar to take the big decision?

It is time for a reality-check. No doubt the magnificent trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis elevated their skills with the willow to a different plane. Yes, two of them – Sachin and Ponting – are on a slightly slippery surface given the lean patch they have stepped into. But, Jacques Kallis seems to be going great after notching up his 44th Test century against the Aussies in the on-going series.

But, it is unmistakable that unlike Kallis, both Ponting and Sachin are facing some serious questions — the biggest of them being whether they should call it quits or not.

For these extraordinary cricketers who often decided the fate of a match by their sheer brilliance of their bat for about two decades, destiny seems to be running faster towards them and posing serious challenges.

“I’m a realist. I live in the real world and I know if I’m not getting runs I might not make the summer out and I definitely won’t be in England,” Ponting said after a dismal start against South Africa. His last three scores in Tests being 0, 4, 16.

And, far away in India, Sachin too is going through testing times with his last three scores in Tests being 13, 8, 8 and is now without a century in Tests since 28 innings. Clearly, an unlike Sachin-run.

Yes, there is always a possibility of the likes of Ponting and Sachin silencing the critics with another stand-out performance. And, it is also pretty obvious that none of them play only for records. They let them happen in the process.

Interestingly, only a couple of years ago, both Ponting and Sachin were in a neck and neck race in scoring the highest number of centuries in Test cricket. But, soon the genius from India left not just the great Australian but many others far behind in scoring 51 hundreds so far in all. A staggering record by any means and the closest to him is Kallis and still going strong.

The big question remains – who should take the call – the selectors or the cricketers themselves. The recent retirements of Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman are simple instances of timing your exit from international cricket.Kapil Dev believes that the decision when to retire should be best left to Tendulkar. Perhaps, he is spot on given the stature of the great man from Mumbai and the iconic following amongst millions of fans across the world.

So, more than the teams’ performances, one of the intriguing aspects of the game can well revolve around the debate on Ponting and Sachin.

They are acknowledged masters of timing with the willow. Only time will tell whether these two illustrious cricketers have already decided on the date of destiny.

Sachin Tendulkar: 1989 debut - 39 years - 192 Tests – 15562 runs – avg 54.60 – 51 x 100s – 65 x 50 – 114 catches – 45 catches. 463 ODIs – 18426 runs – avg 44.83 – 49 x 100, 96 x 50s – 154 wkts.

Ricky Ponting: Debut in 1995 – 37 years – 167 Tests 13, 366 runs, avg 52.21, 41 x 100s, 62 x 50s. 196 catches. 375 ODIs - 13704 runs – avg 42.03, 30 x 100s, 82 x 50s.

Jacques Kallis: Debut in 1995 -37 years – 157 Tests – 12941 runs – avg 57.26 – 44 x 100s, 56 x 50s, 282 wkts. 321 ODIs – 11498 runs – avg 45.26 – 17 x 100s, 85 x 50s - 270 wickets.