Friday, September 24, 2004

Sachin - God and the Victimzed ?

I know this is slightly off the charts in terms of relevance, but this feeling of revulsion seems to come to me once every couple of years when Sachin Tendulkar decides that he needs to do something different to ensure that the fortunes change India. And lo, people start talking about how he has lost it completely, not noticing that something's changed positively. And this feeling is back again. Since I am sick of typing up the same thing, I just decided to repost this on the blog.

(Originally written on March 12, 2002)

During the last few years, I have not missed reading an article about cricket in magazines that have nothing to do with sport. I have all the issues (with covers related to cricket) of a particular news magazine that was on the forefront of the match fixing allegations, a couple of years ago. Basically I find it interesting to read these articles because these magazines do not have anything to do with cricket and so one can get some stuff from other angles. But most of the time I have found that such articles have a common thread. A partisan attitude is evident (barring some good pieces). But it is a truth universally acknowledged that a public in possession of a bad cricket team must be in want of a scapegoat (with due apologies to Jane Austen). However it is still surprising that they have chosen the best in the team for this purpose. And if you notice all these pieces of criticism have come, not from cricketers (or former cricketers), but from people who’s connection to cricket is not evident, at least to the casual reader.

So I have tried to put across a coherent reply to one of the common points raised by such articles… “Is Sachin, an all time great?” A general feeling around the media and some sections of the Indian public, is that Tendulkar, for the greater part of his career, has failed to deliver for his team when they need him the most. And a number of instances have been quoted where we were near and yet so far. These views go as far as indicating that the tag ‘chokers’ that the Indian team has earned in the last few years is because of one man alone. At least that’s what I could surmise…

The one major fact that these people have always overlooked is that there have been many a knock where he has done his bit (rather, almost the whole thing) and India has failed to win because the other ten failed to do their job. I am not a stud with statistics, but what better example to come up than the Chennai Test against Pakistan in 1998-99. This match is quoted by one and all as a prime example to illustrate the ‘fact’ that Sachin is not what he seems to be. In that particular match, Sachin was fighting severe back spasms and was the 7th batsman to get out for a score of 136. This, after the last recognized batsman Nayan Mongia had got out (just about 5 overs previously) with a shot that was deemed irresponsible by one and all. With just one batsman to follow and back spasms racking him, he just had to hit out and go for the finish rather than taking a single and exposing the other batsman to Akram & Co. He got out after hitting Saqlain for 10 runs of the first 3 balls. Even though only 17 runs were required ("only" is not the word to use when Saqlain and Akram are bowling, but nevertheless) India lost all 3 wickets in scoring only 6 runs in the process. Tendulkar was going for the victory and had scored most of the 37 runs in just 5 overs after Mongia's dismissal till he got out. And of the rest of the 10 members of the team only Dravid (10) and Mongia (52) got to double figures. What happened to the other 8 ?? Ganguly got a bad decision (bad is a word that does not convey the enormity of that umpiring slight) , but then.... Tendulkar's innings (even though the finishing was not there) was invaluable when u see the scorecard. We would just not be discussing this match if it were not for the scores of the other batsmen in the team. In fact, Akram recently said in a TV program that the Chennai test was one of the best Test matches he had ever played.

And surprisingly some (including this article by C.Rammanohar Reddy) have compared him with Andy Flower at his best. This reveals another basic flaw. While, on the outset, it is probably fair to dismiss the Zimbabweans as a one-batsman team, the team is full of dangerous floaters (as Douglas Marillier and Travis Friend have amply demonstrated last week!) all of whom are capable of 30's and 40s in any given day. And they do get these runs regularly. So the "exceptional average" of 84.5 % (which he had a couple of months ago) would lose some sheen if you look at the scores of the other batsman. I am sure you would find the above-mentioned 30s and 40s supporting the hundreds made by Flower to the maximum. So it’s unfair to use statistics as a tool to evaluate Tendulkar. Sidhu might be partly right with his "Statistics are like miniskirts, they reveal more than what they hide" statement. But sometimes the hidden stuff makes compulsive reading and convinces us that the open stuff is all hogwash. And maybe the question that has been posed is answered by the usual view that these people put across. "Given his prowess, Sachin does not seem to be able to set up a victory as often as he should". Where are the other batsmen to sometimes finish what he started? Please….. Cricket is just not a one-man game. If you don’t have another batsman to take guard opposite you, then you cannot even bat. This is not street cricket where sometimes all the players get to bat. I hope every Indian fan realizes this and does not get into any conclusion of this kind. Sachin is just the major piece in the jigsaw puzzle that is the Indian team. Only when all the pieces fall into place, will India win.
Accountability is another factor that the Indian public and more importantly, the team and the selector need to understand. They should understand that “no member is bigger than the team” and that includes Tendulkar too. I think he has realized that. His decision to relinquish the captaincy stems from the realization that he cannot cope up with the kind of hassles that a captain has to face and then perform of the field too. But again this has been held against him too. So what more are we going to hold him responsible for? The Babri masjid issue?

So let's not blame Tendulkar for not making “match-winning” scores. The difference between winning and losing lies in playing as a team and not as a collection of individuals. And if someone says that Tendulkar is responsible for not the team not winning, even though he has had good stints at the crease, then he cannot be more wrong. If one batsman's score alone would win a match, I am sure India would be the only unbeaten team around, cause from his first Test to the latest, he has done his bit and would continue to do so until he feels he cannot. Then he will gracefully get off the bandwagon and let India rue the day they doubted Sachin's


dumbs said...

anti in a way u r right. i would agree that one batsmen scoring alone will not b enough for a team to win. sachin prolly is the best batsman in this era. ya but as a team man? i am not sure.

if u have to score 60 runs in 60 balls and there is only one batsman whom would u want to b at the crease - sachin, saurav, yuvaraj, dravid or kaif? my last choice would b sachin. how many would say sachin?

sachin is good but i don't see him to b a match winner. when sachin scores i feel that he is dominating and does not let the other person play. how many times have v seen sachin in a long partnership?

i would want sachin in the team but not as an opener. i'd say #4 where he can stabilize when the first 2 wickets r down or hit when he gets in in the last few overs.

as for that madras test a very confidential source once told me that when sachin got out he walked into the dressin room and told mongia "let me see how u play again" if i am right mongia did not play again. what i infered was mongia was not supporting sachin when he was at the crease. he just got out when sachin needed him.

no one can question sachin's efforts to win but with his approach i don't think v can.

correct me if i am wrong.

anantha said...

Enna da... What makes you say doubt whether he's a team man or not?

In the ODI's, most of his career, he has been an opener. And whenever a strong start was needed, more often than not, he has responded.with a blinder. And if you want 100 percent success (read centuries and lonnnng innings) in such efforts, well, surely you must be joking. Recently read an article (I think it was the same one where Peter Roebuck pushed Laxman as a future captain) where the author said that Sachin is usually placed in the deep because he has so much to say that it is sometimes distracting for the captain and so Saurav places him in the deep and calls him over for opinions whenever required. And so what more do you want from him? Everytime he fails to get a chance to bowl and India lose, our first question is why did he not get a chance to bowl? And Sachin in a long partnership? Look at that recent Asia Cup match when we got into the final with a extra bonus point!

As for the test matches, very rarely have we seen an Indian victory, much less a fight for the same, happen without a stellar contribution. And in any case, the number of his innings that went in vain is much much more than the innings that he missed out on when India won. But there is also this thing. Team contributions are most unjudgable, but not difficult to perceive by a third party such as us. So going by evidence i would not even doubt Sachin's place as a team-man. Either that or he is actor par none. My whole point was, it is very easy to fault Sachin just because he does not play to the gallery as much as he did earlier (however unintentional it was).

Machan what other approach do you need from him da? And as for him not letting the other person play, Sachin-Saurav opening partnership is the best ever in ODI cricket and while Sachin tops the ODI run scoring chart, Saurav is third, after batting for the most part of his career with Sachin at the top! This might not be the case clinching evidence that you might need, but it would be definitely admissible in court!

And actually, not that its important now, Nayan Mongia did play, though not under Sachin, against the Aussies at Bombay and Calcutta till he was replaced by Karim for the Chennai test. And honestly, that WAS a irresponsible shot to play at such a crucial stage when u are the last person in the lineup who can be called a batsman!

Nilu said...

I do not care about reputations unless it's Brian.

Any other bat is as good as his last tour - and if the test series' in Pak and OZ were anything to go by, our man needs a serious kick in the back.

His bat seems to be coming down in an arc - from the second - third slip these days and not the perfect Tendulkar backlift. His ability to pick the line was shown to have taken a beating repeatedly in those tours.

These two defects that have crept in have greatly influenced his shot selection, as he himself seems aware of them. A video of any game on those tours would prove this.

That being the case - I think it would not be logical had India been Australia to pick him straight back from an injury. But India remains India, and he will play, and we will rant.

And so we say we are from Shanmugha ;)

Anonymous said...

If I were sachin, I would be playing for australia now.
Playing under sourav ganguly for such fickle minded indian people is as bad as a late army jawan's wife getting an award from Lalu prasad yadav.
It makes you feel, why the **** should I do anything for these ungrateful , idiotic, ignorant people.(please replace people with the word thats synonymous to a person who doesnt know who his dad is)

Sites like timesofindia,hindustantimes and indiatimes should not write cricket reviews..they lack any kind of inntellect to write anything thats remotely close to sanity.
They should stick to the bollywood item numbers and skin flicks. Afterall that is what they deserve.


Nilu said...

Why is it that Cricket reviewing is "intellectual"??

and why is it that a review on skin is not???

Anonymous said...

When you write an article, you should have a core logic and supplement ur logic with enough statistics/data to show that you have a valid point. I think writing about cricket requires that. But when you write about item numbers and 10 best kissing sequences in bollywood you dont need that. Your creativity is sleeping.

And people Iam talking about dont fall under the "intellect" junta coz they dont have a valid logic atall. Its just sensationalising a non existent thing.


Nilu said...

Just wondering......ever heard of Vital stats?....or is it that you are visually and romantically challenged ? ;)

Anonymous said...


Iam really sorry! Now I know why these people still write articles about item numbers.
And sorry again ,I didnt know it requres a lot of intellect and hardwork to collect details about Vital statisticss of bollywood beauties...
Iam trying to blow a trumpet near a deaf mans ear.


anantha said...

Hmmm... from vital statistics to vital statistics of a different kind! Ahem...

Nilu said...

With your kind permission, I am now using this page for giga bits of cooling emails.

Thanks - and I think this boy Prabhu takes the throne away from Raapi!!!!

anantha said...

no thanx.... permission not granted

Hawkeye said...

came across this post.. am pretty sad to look at poor quality comments under a reasonably passionate blog.

in general if u take a look at "people comments" posted under most articles in rediff u will understand that the general analyzing capacity of average junta is pretty poor.

here for example..the nonsensical comments by "nilakantan".. he makes no point but still manages to throw off a nasty attitude.. reading his blog and his comments shows that blogs can be misleading. we can have genuine dunderheads pretending to be intelligent in blogs.

talk about substance and form going together..

anantha said...

The name of the game is turn a deaf ear! which is what I am doing mainly these days!
Anyways Bharath, I know Prabhu (if its the same Prabhu I knew a couple of months ago and who has the same msg on his IM regardless of whether he is around or not) comes here often, but I havent seen you commenting here and if its the same Bharath that I have meant momentarily close to home here in Athens, welcome!

Nilu said...

How I would love to shred you into a million. But this is not the place - come over at my place and drop a comment or even send an email.

Man o are so dead!...and thanks Anti. What's in public space is mine ;)


Hawkeye said...

a mylapore guy says to a mambalam guy when they face-off in thandaiyarpet... "come to mylapore and i'll have my men roast you.. come to mylapore..". the mambalam guy is thinking.. "why should i go to mylapore.. why cant his men come to thandaiyaarpet of mambalam "

u know my blog and u so know my email.

Hawkeye said...

Hi Anti,

i've visited ur blog b4. i've also seen ur posts in arrfan groups. i am the guy who once in a while posts something and creates commotion there :-)

me a rajini fan too !

anantha said...

Hmmm Bharath.. I think I know you... But yours is such a common name that I dont wanna embarass myself. Have you ever been to Athens, Ohio :D?