It is not for me to say for sure, because I am not the man himself, but I think that the right time for Sachin to call it quits would have been 2nd April, 2011. He would have saved his final Test (and series) with a gritty 146 and a far grittier unbeaten 14; his last ODI would have seen his India crowned World Champions, with Sachin their leading batsman. Instead, he has faded, and been carried by arguably the strongest batting line-up in the world.
Now, though, it is time to replace him. Rohit Sharma made his debut this week, and looked absolutely world class on his way to a glorious century from number six. He turned the innings around from impending doom, with the fifth wicket gone before three figures were reached, to a total grand enough to register a commanding innings win. If anyone has the talent to take over Sachin's mantle at number four, it could be Rohit.
You can't help thinking that Sachin Tendulkar has gone on for two too many years.
Alternatively, Virat Kohli, already billed as the next Tendulkar, could be the one to make the move up the batting order. Hitherto, his Test career has been fairly modest in comparison to his mind-boggling white-ball CV. He also has a Test batting average slightly less than that of Ashwin, which only really goes to show that you can't select players on stats alone. He is, though, a world-class player, and perfectly capable of succeeding at number four. Rohit and Dhoni would then shuffle up a place each, re-opening a slot in the team for Ravindra Jadeja's return.
The Indian public will want a replacement to step into shoes that even Tendulkar hasn't worn for years.
I expect the Indian selectors to completely disregard the third option. To hand him his debut against the best bowling side in the world, in their own backyard would be akin to throwing him into the deep end of a shark-infested pool with a brick tied to one leg and a raw steak to the other.
The second option, which is the most conservative choice and does least to disrupt the status quo, is the option that I expect the BCCI to take. Kohli has, after all, demonstrated that in ODIs he thrives on responsibility. It would be the safest option, and would retain the balance of the side.
The option I would choose, though, would be the first. Rohit Sharma has looked like one of the best batsmen in the world in the last few weeks, and number four would be the position where he could develop into as good a player as he has always looked. Ashwin, I think, is good enough for six, and it's twenty wickets that win Test matches.
What do you think?