| Tendulkar speaks to a child before a tsunami benefit match in Mumbai. (AFP file picture)
Mumbai, March 2: Sachin Tendulkar has bowled the wrong 'un. Not at Inzamam-ul Haq and his men in green but at the tour schedule.
The Master Blaster on Monday said the coming series with Pakistan was ill timed and could affect the concentration of the over 4.5 lakh students appearing for board examinations this month.
'I feel sorry for the students. But as the cricket calendar is drawn up by the International Cricket Council, there is little that can be done,' he was quoted as saying during a rigorous practice session.
He was speaking from experience. 'The 1987 World Cup was on when I appeared for my SSC exams,' he said. 'Though I stopped playing cricket for a while, it became difficult to concentrate on my exams.'
Tendulkar, whose son Arjun made a rare appearance at the nets, had a word of advice for the students: sacrifice cricket and concentrate on studies.
The cricketer's comments found support not only among students but also teachers who urged the Indian board not to schedule a big series in March in future.
'I completely agree with Sachin's comments. Cricket has always been a huge distraction for young students during the exam season. Given the enormous promotion of cricket and the glamour associated with it, I think the BCCI should have been more considerate and postponed the Indo-Pak series by a month,' Father Francis Swamy, principal of Holy Family School, told The Telegraph.
'Students often carry transistors to listen to the radio commentary. Now, with gadgets like cellphones, it is very easy for them to access what's happening around them. How much can the parents and the school do to control their access'
Swamy said the board 'should understand' that SSC and HSC students are not as mature as college students who can 'understand their priorities'.
D.P.N. Prasad, principal of the Mahim-based Bombay Scottish which earlier this year was adjudged Maharashtra's best sporting school, agreed that a cricket series during exam time was not such a good idea.
'Cricket, like everything else, has become a big business. Every business should take into consideration its target audience and 50 per cent of cricket's audiences are in the young age group. I am concerned that the focus of the students gets diverted,' he said.
Several parents have asked cable operators to suspend connections till the exams are over. 'Yes, my parents have disconnected the cable connection. My exams began yesterday and will continue till March 21. I hope I can catch some action after that,' said 15-year-old Arnab Patra, who is appearing for ICSE exams.
'It is disappointing that I can't watch the matches,' said HSC student Ambarish Chatterjee, who asked his parents to disconnect the cable connection. 'But I will try to catch the highlights.'
Yesterday, a biography of Tendulkar was released in Mumbai. Written by journalist Vaibhav Purandare, the book was released by Tendulkar's inspiration, Sunil Gavaskar, whose record of most Test centuries he recently equalled. Commentators Harsha Bhogle and Sanjay Manjrekar, a former Test player, were present at the release.