Two views on Tendulkar

Few have captured Tendulkar’s place in India’s argumentative tradition as well as Rahul Bhattacharya in his piece titled ‘Man-child superstar’. He writes:

A Tendulkar innings is never over when it is over. It is simply a basis for negotiation. He might be behind headphones or helmet, but outside people are talking, shouting, fighting, conceding, bargaining, waiting. He is a national habit.

I was reminded of this when I read Mukul Kesavan’s piece on Tendulkar recently. Do read the piece before proceeding further.

Let me also state this upfront: It was an interesting article. Most journalist and writers who cover cricket haven’t stated many of these points upfront. It helps to have an independent voice like Mukul’s.

The piece, like most pieces involving Tendulkar, provoked strong opinions. A lot of this opinion was lost in the whirlwind of comments, blog posts and tweets. When you have 452 comments on Cricinfo and 310 comments on Yahoo, it becomes tough to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I disagreed with a few points in the piece. My good friend (who will remain unnamed for professional reasons) disagreed with me. Here I offer both perspectives.

Let me also state that I am not saying these are air-tight arguments. But I think it’s important to put these thoughts out in the open. Mukul’s article was thought provoking. I hope the counter and the counter to the counter extend the debate. As always, you are free to extend the discussion even further with your comments.

My thoughts:

1) I find it amazing how people nit-pick when it comes to SRT’s apparent slow-scoring that affects the team. First, nobody ever cares to see how long he took from 40 to 50 or 70 to 80. They will always zero in on his strike-rate from 90 to 100.

Next – nobody has ever done any kind of analysis of any other batsman’s strike-rate from 90 to 100. It’s always Sachin.

Also, there is no doubt Sachin slowed down as he reached his hundred in Mirpur but MK makes it sound as if that was the main reason we lost that match. Our bowling line-up could not defend 289. They bowled full-toss after full-toss in the end. Pakistan defended 262 in the previous match and they defended 236 in the final.

Also, Tendulkar’s was the only hundred against Bangladesh in the whole tournament (so I can’t agree with people who say the hundred came against a ‘lowly Bangladesh’)

2) Tendulkar said ‘I feel those who say you should retire at the top are selfish’. He was not saying he was on the ‘top’ of his career. He was referring to the people who make the statements.

Also, Tendulkar said  ‘When I feel I am not in a frame of mind to contribute to the nation, that’s when I should retire …’. MK avoids this quote. He does not concede that Tendulkar probably feels he has more to contribute to the side – like he did in the Pakistan match with a quick fifty that helped Kohli and Rohit go for the win. Instead he picks out averages and proves to us that SRT is indeed not at the top of his game.

3) Lastly I think one must judge a man based on his work on the field. However he markets himself off it, it is the selectors job to decide whether he is good enough to play in the team or not. If the paid selectors feel he is not contributing, it’s their job to drop him.

Instead MK ignores the selection committee completely and tells us that Tendulkar’s grand PR machine is trying to cover up his faults. Sure, that’s the PR machine’s job. But who is going to question Srikkanth and Co. about when they plan to do their job?

My friend’s response (via email)

You make very valid points. I’ll try to look at them – not trying to refute them (in the Punjab, the old saying goes that when Madrassis with weighty names like Vaidyanathan, Jagannathan, Balasubramaniam, Gopalakrishnan, Kodandaramaiah etc talk, one must only nod energetically).

1) You’re right – no one has analysed if other batsmen slow down when approaching their 100s. But if this taint has stuck to SRT, I think there’s reason, and anecdotal evidence. I don’t recall any other top stroke-player slowing down like SRT – not Jayasuriya, Anwar, Ponting, Sehwag, Watson, Sangakkara. This has been a peeve for me, despite my near hero-worship of SRT, for long – I remember discussing this with a friend in 1999. But yes, no comparative analysis exists.

Yes, India lost to Bangladesh due to a below-par score and inadequate bowling. But hasn’t bowling been our failing over the last few years? Along with fielding? Our bats have budgeted for that – our bats know they’ve got to bat out of their skins EACH time because the bowling is crap. The team knows this. Dhoni said as much many times during the WC – which India won with no bowling.

Pakistan bowling is much better than India’s, and also crazy – they can defend 150 and concede 350.

Bangladesh is lowly, in my view. A 138-ball 100 vs them on a subcontinental track is impressive only if you take the age of the batsman into account.

2) I don’t know to what question SRT answered: ‘I feel those who say you should retire at the top are selfish.’ I’d love to know that. But, in the context of questions over his retirement, and his often irritated responses, I think it’s natural to ASSUME he was referring to himself.

Again, I don’t know what the question was.

(The totally reliable Nagraj Gollapudi wrote ‘He said it would be “selfish” to make an exit when he was “on top” of his game.’

“I feel those who say you should retire at the top are selfish,” he said, “because when you are at the top, you should serve the country instead of retiring.”

BTW, I’m not a big fan of this “serving the country” business. I’m not sure if a sportsperson is serving his country in any way/ The context, clearly, was his own retirement. See this)

Yes, SRT clearly can contribute immensely. His two innings in Aus Tests show that clearly. But clearly, as he confessed, he was horribly bogged down by this MahaShattak bogey – did that screw up his and India’s two most important tours over the last 12 months? I suspect yes.  And should he pick and choose tours to play? I think not, which brings us to …

3) Srikkanth and the other jokers. Do they have the balls to drop him? No. And what’s their job? Their job is to save their asses and continue to make work-free millions every year. Perhaps MK also believes this and knows the spineless selectors won’t drop him, or ask him to not pick games to play … it’s up to SRT.

And I’m not sure if SRT being turned into a marketing whore is a comment against the man per se. I think MK is more upset with the marketeers who’ve turned our greatest talent into a marketing tool … and have turned what may have been a good occasion to celebrate a landmark (whether you’re a MahaShattak believer or not) into a purely commercial exercise.

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191 Responses to Two views on Tendulkar

  1. Rakesh Kumar says:

    The mind sees what it wants to see. Take any batsman’s career and you will find enough reasons to pull him down.

    1. Funny that we blame Sachin for scoring slow in that Bangladesh match and ignore all the others who didn’t even score. Kohli’s strike rate was 80 while Sachin’s was 77. No biggie that, right? But we would still say Sachin was SLOWWWW!

    2. I think he meant ‘if I retire when I am at the top, it would be selfish’. I kinda agree with this. If he had retired the very next day, people would be screaming out of their lungs that he stayed in the team only to score his 100th ton, and now that it’s done, he’s retiring.
    Aren’t there more reasons for his detracctors to call him selfish?

    3. I believe the selectors want him because he’s a major crowd puller. He’s still a big reason of putting bums in the seats. You don’t want to let go of him that easily right? Just an alternate view. I still think he’s the best around in India, next to Kohli.

  2. Prasad says:

    Couldn’t agree more!

  3. Venkatraman says:

    I support MK’s view on sachin. I didn’t like it when he was giving interview-after-interview after that 100th hundred while he was silent all through the bad season for the team. SRT playing ODIs also looks pointless to me, We all know our Indian team has managed to live without SRT. So he is occupying a youngster’s place there. Finally after all the Tax-saving-lies, coke-can-marketing and other little things I say treat him as a CRICKETER not as GOD or a Phenomenon. Drop him IF he doesn’t fit in. But I don’t think our selectors have the guts to do that. So if sachin wants to be seen as GOD he should decide what he can do best for the team, otherwise as MK said he’ll set an example of how not to finish a great career.

    • ReXXaR says:

      I can smell your heart burning,man.. So much jealousy for a man who became GOD while U rot in oblivion.Tell me baring KOHLI which youngster can score even 30 runs in AUSTRALIA at 2015 World Cup. SELECTORS are keeping Sachin for the World Cup because with such useless youngsters , India’s cannot even dream of DEFENDING their TITLE.

      • Vistasp Hodiwala says:

        Maybe we should not even go for the 2015 WC if Sachin isn’t around, right? What utter rot are you spouting man?

  4. Sagar says:

    It’s part of our culture to pay more weight to individual achievements. It’s drilled into one’s sub-conscious from a very early age. You are successful based on your personal marks in an exam – not your school/college’s performance. Same with cricketers, same with almost every profession in India.

    So to pillar up Sachin for this is hypocrisy.

    Is this culture good or bad? Another time and place for that discussion…There are points on both sides.

    But in this culture that Sachin is part of and we are all part of, his 100th hundred matters. So all those who say what the big deal, open your eyes to your environment.

    Even if you buy the argument that we lost to B’desh so that sachin could get his hundred (which is a meaningless argument as you put it clearly in your article), its worth it. Period.

    Why is it worth it? One – Because of the weight we as a culture give to that achievement vis-a-vis a win over b’desh. Secondly it get’s the monkey of Sachin’s shoulders.

  5. Fan1 says:

    Your friend wins points 1 & 3, and no result on 2. Sorry to say this but the one about paid selectors doing their job sounds naive. As your friend says no selector would dare to drop him against his wishes. In fact his power over them is a little frightening. For a long time, the selectors used to drop and pick players – even big names like Gavaskar and Kapil Dev – just to show that who the boss was. But those days are completely gone and especially so in the case of Tendulkar, the roles are reversed.

    • ReXXaR says:

      Sorry to contradict U here but U might not know that Kapil Dev didnot deserve to play the last 2 years of his career. He had even turned himself into a slow bowler, yet he was allowed to play 7 series with that pace. But U certainly would have known GANGULY’s drama. He had spoil the dream team for 3 years which had young SEHWAG hitting every ball out of the park, middle-age DRAVID who can find the gap like a pigeon spotting a grain, young blood YUVRAJ who can make every run-chase possible and classy keeper DHONI who had to sit out because DRAVID was forced to keep and the great man SACHIN whose presence is enough to demoralize the opponents. The selectors even allowed Ganguly to captain the side for the world-cup 2003 in which India participated with virtually 10 players. The nation was asking for his head and the selectors dare not touch him even though he had every reason to step out at that time.(BUT HE IS AWESOME) . The moral of this story is POPULAR SPORTSMEN ARE ALWAYS OUT OF SELECTORS REACH. To help them out PLEASE SUGGEST THE CRITERION TO DROP SACHIN AND RETAIN THE REST OF THE SQUAD.

  6. ROHAN BHALERAO says:

    Now, this is a purely emotionally-charged up comment from me.

    We are talking about Sachin Tendulkar here…for me, and for an average Indian, the greatest sportsman to set his foot on the field. The only person who finds himself on the Times of India website every single day (from the time I know how to use the internet) for whatever news.

    Talking about Asia Cup (who cares about it?) and that match against Bangladesh. For a moment, assume that we lost because of Tendulkar’s slow scoring. Ok. I agree. We lost because of him. WHAT’s THE BIG DEAL? One match…One cup, who nobody cares about..BLOWN UP. For the man whom we love the most. The whole goddamn country wanted this MAHASHATTAK more than Tendulkar as if it was their personal achievement. So, one match and one cup is SACRIFICED for that century. For those 22 years of smiles he gave to us, can’t we just let go one defeat. Come on. Move on!

    Lastly, when somebody talks about DROPPING Tendulkar, I don’t get agitated. I just laugh at the absurdity of the thought. Means, really? Really? Really? Are u talking about dropping HIM? Doesn’t it seem just a bit too high a wish? Don’t you think people may just get on to the streets and protest? I never thought of this until now, but seriously, rather than discussing in some comments section on some website, I will be the first one to go out on a hunger strike in front of the BCCI office, if ever Tendulkar got dropped. And I am not kidding. As the late Naren Tamhane said, “Gentlemen, Tendulkar never fails,” let me say, “Sachin Tendulkar is UNDROPPABLE! Period.”

    • Vistasp Hodiwala says:

      What. Was. That?

    • Shubham says:

      That’s hogwash. You set foot on the cricket pitch to win a match, period.

      You may worship someone but that doesn’t mean that he has to be held in high regard by everyone else — not talking of Tendulkar; I myself am a big fan of his and don’t think it was his slow innings that cost us the match — and your protesting anywhere (which is, again, nonsense) is not going to do anything. You are welcome to do that though.

      No one is free of criticism. Not even Tendulkar. Dropping Tendulkar isn’t difficult, let alone impossible when he isn’t contributing to the team. On his current form, I don’t think he needs to be dropped. People will always want new faces but Tendulkar is far better than any other replacement for him at the moment.

      But to say that he can’t be dropped because he is, oh-my-god, *Sachin*, doesn’t make sense. On the account of what I have seen of him though, he will be the first person to know it’s time for him to leave the game and once it’s time, he will do so. Enjoy his batting while you can but don’t be servile.

  7. Sriram says:

    I analyzed the data to get a better understanding of point 1. By going through ball-by-ball commentary, I figured out the number of balls it took SRT to reach 85 and the corresponding number for the next 15 runs. Before I talk about what I found, here are some caveats:

    — I restricted myself to ODIs. While slowing down in tests can cost momentum, and perhaps even a wicket, the impact in ODIs should intuitively be larger. Second, this cut down my work in about half :)

    — Even in ODIs, the data we are looking for is virtually nonexistent before this match (http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/66317.html). Although I didn’t check all the previous matches, I think we only have data for the last 21 hundreds of SRT.

    — This analysis does not take into account the state of game. I will give two examples to illustrate my point. I remember SRT slowing down as he approached his hundred in this match (http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/65161.html). However, the game was well and truly won at that stage and his slowing down had little consequence (it affects the NRR, but that’s a second order effect). In the second case (http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/267709.html), he went from 85 to 100 in 7 balls because (a) he was batting in the slog overs and (b) he was running out of time. Such details are hidden in the results.

    — As with all such analysis, correlation does not imply causation. For example, SRT said he slowed down in the Sydney test because he was waiting for the wind to die down and not necessarily because he was approaching a hundred.

    With those caveats out of the way here is my analysis of the data:

    — On 10/21 occasions, his strike rate for the last 15 runs was lower than the SR for the first 85.
    — However, on 5/10 occasions, the deviation is small (less than 10 runs per 100 balls). Therefore, we can ignore these cases.
    — One of the remaining 5 is the hundred against Bangladesh.
    — Another is the hundred against SA in the World Cup (75/17 = balls for first 85/balls for last 15), where India slowed down all of sudden, lost momentum and ultimately, the game.
    — Two are games that I don’t remember (http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/66106.html and http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/66365.html). India won both these games.
    — A rather surprising member of this list is his 200 against SA. He took 67 balls for his first 85, 23 for his next 15. Of course, he made up for this by scoring 100 runs off the next 47 balls.

    At the end of this analysis, I think there are occasions when he slows down as he approaches a 100 (maybe 25% of the time). Sometimes he makes up for them (200 against SA), sometimes not (SA in WC). To hold this against him seems a little unfair.

    I am listing the number of balls taken to reach 100 and 85 below in case anybody wants to run further with the analysis (standard disclaimers apply :))

    138 116
    92 75
    103 87
    90 67
    81 69
    92 77
    101 86
    106 90
    76 69
    119 110
    112 96
    105 95
    106 89
    87 77
    117 95
    115 97
    93 81
    106 94
    100 83
    128 114
    111 96

    • dyogesh4u says:

      Very interesting numbers and reflect what i felt. As usual, correlation is mixed up with causation. Tendulkar does and doesn’t slow down before a hundred and many a time it is based on other factors. The Sydney test was a perfect example. I was upset about his slowing down but as he himself said later that he was waiting for wind to die down. He also said that perhaps in another over he would have attacked Clarke. Even in 2007 Aussie tour (Adelaide test), he didn’t go over the top to spinners initially but later he did. When Chappelli quizzed him on it, he spoke of the wind factor again. The one aspect of Tendulkar’s batting that isn’t given due attention is that he has always been good at deciding par scores at various stages of the innings. Many a time, that decides the pace of his innings than anything else.

      Yes, I was a tad disappointed with Tendulkar’s marketing blitz after 100th 100 but then i do not know the finer print of his contract details with the sponsor and he isn’t a saint either. Of course, if his sponsor gets to decide then there is no point in blaming Tendulkar for it. As for the 100th 100 being a non-landmark, the same can be said about valuing 100 more than a 99.

      As i once said to a friend who was upset that i wasn’t upset of India’s defeat but happy about a Tendulkar century, what is wrong in it ? I never understood why should people value India’s victory more than Tendulkar’s century….By the way, i am just happy to watch him bat well even if he doesn’t make a century. I watch many a meaningless match for him and so it doesn’t matter to me if India wins or loses many a time. I do not see why it is wrong for me or someone else to be so. As somebody also said after the 100th 100, if many people felt happy about it despite the loss then who is to tell them to feel sad ? And why should they ?

    • sidvee says:

      Wonderful. This is the kind of analysis we need. I will reply to this in detail. Meanwhile, here’s more analysis from @persiesque: http://setpiecegoal.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/debunking-the-sachin-myth/

    • Your commitment to the cause of revealing the truth is salute-worthy :-)

    • ReXXaR says:

      “Another is the hundred against SA in the World Cup (75/17 = balls for first 85/balls for last 15), where India slowed down all of sudden, lost momentum and ultimately, the game.” THIS IS THE BIGGEST C*%P THAT I HAVE EVER HEARD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.
      India were 267 for 1 when Sachin lost his wicket and were all out on 296. AND YOU ARE BLAMING SACHIN. God, spare us from such fools.

  8. PremCChin says:

    SidV – I liked this article to the hilt. It juxtaposed both sides of the coin superbly. Personally, I concur with Mukul’s point of view. Unfortunately, nobody (neither my friends nor my colleagues) ready to accept this as 99% Indians only want reasons to celebrate rather than a retrospection of the debacles. My argument is that Sachin said before scoring 100th ton that he was not focusing on that coveted ton but eventually when he did that, myriad functions followed where he actively participated. This 100th ton is sham,farce and trash.

    As long as Indian people/media love individual landmarks, I see no Indian team winning TEST SERIES overseas. In that context, India might produce a team of champions but NOT a champion team.

  9. MK_factually_incorrect says:

    1) Absolutely spot on, no one bothers to check 90-100 SR for other batsmen. Lets check Kohli’s strike rate against Pakistan – from 90-100.. IIRC he took 16 balls or so for those 10 runs. Especially when he was in better form (coming into the series, and in the match too). What was the milestone he was chasing?

    SRT and Kohli had discussed in the middle that that pitch was a 270-280 kind of pitch, and they paced their innings accordingly, as was evident from their strike rates in their partnership.

    2) Retiring on the top – lets see what other legend has to say (Dravid)
    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/559136.html

    [quote] If things had not gone well in England, maybe I would have been comfortable doing it then. Obviously after England, I felt I was in good form and that I needed to go to Australia, and I felt that it was going to be a tough tour and that it wouldn’t be right to walk away after doing well in England… it may sound silly, but just wanting to finish on a high – that hadn’t occurred to me, in the sense that I wanted to go when I was comfortable.
    [/quote]

    It is difficult to take an author (MK) seriously, when you start talking about dressing etc (shiny shirt, adidas shoes thing) in a completely unrelated function – and judge the sports person based on that. I would like to know who else but SRT/Dravid have the most impeccable off-field behavior.

    As for expecting SRT to comment on Bangladesh/OZ-tour losses. Why should he talk about them in a completely unrelated conference ( celebrating 100 100s – not 100th 100)..

    • sarath says:

      So true.

      As for Rahul Dravid, he never got his due when he was playing. And ironically, now that he has retired, fans seem to have mushroomed overnight. Sadly for RSD, most of the praise he is getting is for the wrong reasons and by the wrong ppl – i.e to belittle SRT.

      Comparing RSD to SRT is doing a grave injustice to dravid. Dravid comes second best when compared to sachin in batsmanship. No arguing that. But there is no shame in that.

      Two great cricketers. Celebrate them. Accept them for what they are. By comparing, we are only insulting both of them. Not that it reflects poorly on them, the shame is ours.

  10. Vistasp Hodiwala says:

    SidV, I am a huge fan of your writing; have been for a long time; but I will go with Mukul’s view here, all things considered. And he did consider ‘everything’ and I mean everything when he wrote that. To celebrate Sachin in this negative manner at the cost of ‘team’ landmarks is clearly the mentality why we will never amount to much as a nation of any sporting consequence. To romanticise this bullshit is even more self-defeating and an insult to every lover of the game. I cannot understand people who say “What the hell, if we lost, because it was an inconsequential match?” My heart actually goes out to the selectors who have to deal with this crappy outlook from a whole generation of Sachin fanatics; actually the word as coined by a friend is ‘Sachintards’. To retire at the top of your game is selfish? Really? Because the critics were not the ones who selected him to play for India in the first place… C’mon! I mean, how big an idiot one must be to not see through the rank moronity and self-serving nature of that comment? Our man now picks and chooses matches at will, never displays the guts as a senior player to come and face the media’s music when we lose (or win without his contribution for that matter), gets away with the most inane logic on why he should continue playing ODIs and yet, we are so blinded by his aura that we behave like we are victims of a Stockholm Syndrome. How unreal is this circus! Thank God for Mukul Kesavan and his ability to call the shovel by its very name.

  11. “I feel those who say you should retire at the top are selfish,” he said, “because when you are at the top, you should serve the country instead of retiring.” – This is his actual quote, as given in the link in the MK piece. Unless you want to twist the statement with an intent to suit your particular judgment of Sachin, I don’t see how this translates into delusion. Oh boy, he said “at the top”. Is he talking about someone else? No. So, he’s referring to himself then. Damn, he’s not scored much for a year now and he thinks he’s on top. Oh, that tin-eared narcissism. This is more Match ka Murjim stuff than Mukul Kesavan.

    “I don’t think we are celebrating just that game. Where I have reached today, it has taken me 23 years to be at that place. Results are very important for me. Yes, it was a disappointment for us to not make the final, and let me tell you there was no major celebration after I scored a hundred as we had lost the match.” – This is what he said in the press con after the 100. So, what’s the cut-off time to spend lamenting on the team’s loss as per MK?

    How’s Sachin putting down the result to just one big partnership translate him not taking personal responsibility for the loss? Was he even reading the stuff that Sehwag and Gambhir were uttering in Australia? Was he in denial? Yes. But is that because he wanted to absolve himself of personal responsibility? Well, for a man with a hammer, every nail is an issue!
    This slowing down for a hundred is a proxy for putting the self-interest ahead of the team interest, isn’t it? Is that the only way? What about a batsman trying to rush through to his hundred, though the team interests doesn’t necessarily dictate that?

    – How do you evaluate a Dravid letting adrenaline take over, when he top edged Gillespie for a six to reach his hundred in Adelaide?What if he had been caught? Would you consider it as Dravid putting himself ahead of the team?
    – What about Steve Waugh smashing Richard Dawson for a four on the last ball of the day? Would he have done that if he were not in the 90s?
    – What about Sehwag trying to whack Katich out of the park when he was on 195? (Sehwag has even admitted in an interview that he tries to rush through when he’s in the 90s – so does the team need him to up the tempo every time he’s in the 90s?)
    – Ponting nearly ran himself out in Sydney when he was desperate to run for a non-existent single to complete possibly the most elusive hundred of his career. What if Zaheer had hit the stumps? What if that triggered a collapse?
    These are just the top of the mind recalls. Cricket has always had this hypocrisy about personal vs team interests. When Athers declared with Hick in the 90s, it created controversy, and when Border does it with himself in the 90s, it’s hailed universally.

    Like you wrote earlier “Cricket has this wonderful capacity to toggle between being a team sport played by individuals and an individual sport played by teams.” Cricket will forever have this conflict. And anything about Sachin will always attract extreme scrutiny.

    “He had scored no centuries, played no decisive match-saving innings, fought no heroic rearguard actions. His average over the eight Tests was 35: 20 runs below his career average.” For a man in this kind of form, looking for an elusive hundred, leave alone the hundredth, and a man who figures in the larger scheme of things for the team in future as well, isn’t it sensible for him to bide time and play himself into form? If he had to do that, what’s the ideal match for him? Agt B’desh in a non-knockout match is not a bad choice? For good or bad, the search for the 100th has affected his batting…so much so that he’s revealing his vulnerability like he’s never done before. Isn’t it natural that he wanted to get rid of it agt B’desh against whom he can afford to take the extra buffer? Isn’t it better for the team in the long run that Sachin plays with greater freedom? If you can’t give an out of form batsman buffer agt B’desh to work himself into form and get past an obstacle which he desperately wants to get past, who else can you afford it against.

    As an aside, contrast the strike rate of the guy who was playing for personal glory agt the batsman who’s in the form of his life and who played two of the greatest ODI innings on either side of this match.

    If Srikanth is not realistically expected to drop Sachin if need be, and therefore MK thought it wise not to bring it up, did MK actually think it’s realistic to expect the marketing bandwagon surrounding Sachin to stop? Oh, well!

    • Vistasp Hodiwala says:

      1. Tin-eared narcissism is a great term but how does it absolve our man’s statement when he is clearly not going great guns to begin with and his continuing presence makes no long-term sense to the team’s plans in ODIs?

      2. One would have to be pretty thick-skinned and insensitive to celebrate a personal landmark in the face of defeat and the lack of berth in the finals (which mostly got screwed up because of that defeat). So, great that he and the team had the good sense not to celebrate but how does that put a gloss on the way he played that innings?

      3. Very valid points made on guys who rush through their hundred but aren’t we making too many excuses for a Sachin innings all the time anyway? Everybody else gets roasted for playing slow or slowing down the strike rate, so why should it be okay when he does it that too on a flat track against a jelly bean attack?

      • 1) Are you accusing Sachin of backing himself to come good and play for some more time? For a guy who’s been as successful as he has been over the years, how else do you expect him to think? If you think he doesn’t deserve to be in the long-term plans of our ODI team, who should you really be questioning? So, why do we have paid selectors who get bonuses on par with investment bankers? Btw, Do you know Richards was dropped from the ’92 WC? He didn’t retire. In fact he felt extremely bitter about the fact that he was dropped. He really thought he could contribute to the team. Now, do we blame Richards for his confidence, however misplaced it may have been? Or appreciate the selectors for doing their job?

        2) Like he clearly says, and rightly so, this is not about the 100th but about 100. Like when Kapil crossed Hadlee, when Walsh crossed Kapil – the match was halted in the middle of play and they played Kapil’s wish over the phone on speakers in the stadium!, when Boycott got his 100th FC hundred – play was halted for a few minutes, photographer barged in to take snaps…the Yorkshire legends were invited to celebrate the occasion, when Lara crossed Sobers – we all know what happened. Lara’s 400 came in a dead rubber on a road of a pitch after0-3 scoreline – but they even released a DVD celebrating the achievement….I can go on and on. This is the convenient cricketing hypocrisy that I was referring to. Cricket has always celebrated personal landmarks, even when it didn’t necessarily lead to team’s victory. More so, in this case, where the record is not about an individual innings but aggregate career achievement. Dravid retired after a 0-4 drubbing. But didn’t we all celebrate his career? Did we all find it grating that we were celebrating a career that ended in a disaster for the team?

        3) It’s not about defending Sachin. I have a problem with any athlete being subjected to this level of scrutiny…more so when they are bunkum and mostly facts tell a different story. Forget Sachin, if someone had accused any of the batsmen that I had pointed out above for putting their self-interest above team’s interest, in such a derogatory tone, I would have defended them too. Cricket is essentially an individual game played in a team format. It’s gonna have its share of natural friction between the two.

        Also, for the team game that Cricket is, isn’t it important that a team raises the bar of their collective performance when a player who’s struggling for form needs some buffer to get back on track? Haven’t good teams given the space for players to work themselves back into form? Isn’t that an integral part of team sports? When Ramesh was injured in Adelaide and Dravid farmed the strike to protect him, did we accuse Dravid of being narcissistic or Ramesh of being selfish and timid for not taking the single?

      • Amit says:

        1. Long term plans: he doesn’t fit in, but on the basis of performances alone, there is not an opener, bar gambhir who can push for inclusion for the same spot. Middle order bats like Raina hv proven failures outside subcontinent despite 6-7 yrs in the game. So who deserves to go out! IMHO, the young guns need to introspect.
        2: thick skinned: yes, one needs to be, to play at top for so long and compete and dominate. Else one has to listen to retards who will dictate when to go or that there’s nothing else left for him to achieve, so he shd make way for the next gen, who aren’t half as gud.
        3: roasted for going slow? Haven’t Really seen that happen to players except for gavaskar in his famous score of 36 in 1975. Care to remind me of more examples?
        4: And don’t bother replying to this one – who would you rather have bat 50 overs in an ODI? Sachin or Dravid? Not taking potshots @ RD but merely stating that in ODIs, there is sachin and then daylight. Others are not even close!
        5: the so called jelly bean attack beat both the world cup finalists, so give them credit. Not doing that is unsportsmanlike.
        6: Losing the game cost the trophy: presumptive at best! Don’t forget Pakistan had the best attack in tournament and we might not hv won the next encounter. and while this loss meant we finished at par with BD, BD made it to the finals based on tournament rules. Not blaming the rules, but no one at that stage would’ve said BD wud beat Lanka as well. So argument doesn’t hold ground!

        And lastly, there’s a difference between character assassination and performance analysis.
        A big one!

    • sarath says:

      Well, for a man with a hammer, every nail is an issue! ” Now that’s hitting the nail on the head:-)”

      But seriously a damn good analysis. Though, i’ve felt the crack at virat was unfair.

      And coming to the 100; accept it, 100 is special in cricket. we dont celebrate 99’s nor 101’s. And we are talking about 100 100’s here. So he did eat up a few balls in the anxiety. But only when we accept the imperfections of a player can we call ourselves fans.

      100 100’s Jus think about it.

    • angshuman says:

      I think the only thing that has pained Sachin fans is that how Sachin has allowed the marketing bandwagon and the film starts to control certain milestones of his – which were ours. I think we loved Sachin when he thrashed Abdul Quadir in 1989, when he got out to a Mark Waugh wide in the 1996 WC after a fighting knock, and whne he collided with Shoaib at the Eden. A lot of cricket fans (and believe me all cricket fans are Sachin fans) hate the fact that bollywood and the industrialists are taking over our man. That is what MK has been harping about. I read in a comment above that Sachin is no saint and allow him to live his life – well I guess accepting this fact is difficult for a lot of us and hence such harsh reaction. And all the points about his slow 100s and retirement speeches are about that.

      • Karthik V says:

        Nothing personal here, angshuman, but this new thing about Sachin being controlled by the marketing men is pure bollocks, in my opinion. Let’s not forget that Sachin was the first and until recently (when MSD overtook him), the most marketed/marketable persona in Indian cricket.

        Yet, Sachin has always handled those million dollar opportunities with a great sense of maturity and responsibility. He is known to have repeatedly turned down offers worth several crores to endorse alcohol and tobacco – those people keep trying, even into his third decade in the sport! Contrast this with people like MSD (Kingfisher) who have no qualms about endorsing the same after a few successes. I even recall Dravid doing a spot for Eveready in which scantily clad women surrounded him. This was early in his career, around ’99-2000, although that was the last such spot in which Dravid allowed himself to be so featured. My point is that, Sachin in particular and seniors like Dravid, have always been careful about the products they endorse and have never allowed the marketing men to dictate terms. For instance, Sachin is never known to shoot ads during the middle of a series.

        It’s probably Suresh Menon who originated the recent canard that ‘Brand Sachin controls Sachin, not Sachin’. And, somehow, people like Mukul Kesavan seem to have a problem about Sachin doing a few promos to fulfil his endorsement requirements. The moment Mukul stooped to make comments about Sachin’s clothing and shoes, you knew that he was hitting below the belt, not writing an objective, balanced article.

  12. Vipul says:

    To me this whole issue of Sachin’s retirement is a reflection of our never-ending search for an infallible hero; a hero who after scoring a century of centuries is not even allowed to admit that the unfinished business was nagging him all the while; a hero who is not worthy enough to be in the team if he plays a flawless 41. I find it hard to believe that a person who, at 38, can still come out to field after scoring a century is asked to retire just because the very thought that a player could still contribute across two generations is unnerving to his erstwhile fans even as they find themselves going to hospitals more often than to playgrounds.
    It is also a sad reflection of the state of affairs that people are fed up of even watching a miracle in action. I hope Swiss fans are more forgiving when Federer starts losing an odd set or two per match at the age of 38!

  13. Am nobody to comment on Sachin’s strategy on how he should retire, or rather no where close enough to question his credibility and his thoughts. Still, I want to make one point- He always reply to answer the `jholas`(ref. @homertweets) questions about his retirement plans- “Am still enjoying Cricket”. Ohkay, Sachin you are still enjoying cricket so, you won’t retire(my point is only concerned about odi). Knowing that you have nothing else to achieve and you only admitted that in your recent interview(“I had one dream to win the WC and I have achieved that.”). So, how about thinking for the love of your fellow disciples- junior cricketers, of whom you are blocking an opener slot in the playing xi(or for that matter in the xv too)- what about Rahane’s love of Cricket? Your love is true love, are others all faking it? Rahane is good enough to be given a long run for India. I rest my case. Valid point, no?

    • sandeep says:

      By that logic, the whole indian team which won the world cup should retire, cuz there is nothing left for them to achieve.Why did ricky ponting carry on after winning 3 world cups? What dream did he have? People like sachin, ponting still play the game cuz they love playing and testing themselves against the best in the world.They r intensely competitive.I dont see what Rahane’s form has to do with it.As Sid says,that is the job of the selctors.

  14. As you mentioned, its such a polarizing topic that it is emotional for both camps. The MK camp proclaim to be pragmatic and refuse that its emotional. Thats where the dishonesty lies, in my opinion :)

  15. Of course most of the Sachintards don’t know a cut shot from a pull shot but when has that stopped them make a fool of themselves in public? Comparing Sachin’s disgusting display of selfishness to Dravid’s Adelaide knock against the mighty Australians which rewrote the history books and erased the national shame? Woah what has Dravid done to deserve the disrespect of being compared to Sachin?

    Leave Sachin to his Page 3 parties with the Priyanka Chopras and Sunny Leones. Dravid is fine with Dada, Kumble, VVS and other Indian cricketing greats. Thank you very much.

    • Sagar says:

      Very deep analysis…Thanks ;-)

    • edge says:

      Profoundly insightful :) Thanks.

    • Thomas says:

      Hey, did you know that Peter Roebuck died and there’s a vacancy open? Try applying in cricinfo for the post of senior analyst or something man. They should send the chopper straight away.

    • Rachit says:

      thanks mate, had a rough weekend. you made me laugh.

    • Pradyuman says:

      Please i also want to read a page 3 report involving Sachin, please Mr. A**kisser. There was not much ‘might’ in the Aussie bowling attack of 2003, but you obviously wouldn’t know that as you have been really busy all these years figuring out the difference between a cut and a pull. Not to say that Dravid did not make a giant effort to help us win that game, but none of that would have been possible without ….eh ….. Agarkar!!! Dravid was really fortunate that most of his efforts resulting in an Indian victory had a partnering effort, more often than not bigger and more valuable than his. Whenever Sachin has set us up abroad for a win, we have been unable to close out the games like Waugh in his last test and Kallis in SA single handedly thwarted us. Even against Bangladesh, if we could not defend 289, we wouldnt have been able to defend 300 as well. Irrespective of whether Sachin really slowed down due to the century, the impact could not have been more than 11-12 runs.

    • Cutting edge of the seat action and reaction.

  16. Chandan says:

    ” Selectors don’t have balls to drop Sachin” Oh! You remember dropping of Ganguly?

  17. Mukul Kesavan says:

    It’s been fun reading the back and forth about this post. Since a part of this exchange is prompted by the cricinfo piece on Tendulkar, a couple of clarifications.

    I don’t in fact put the responsibility for the defeat down to Tendulkar’s dip in run-rate alone. ‘one of the reasons India lost…etc’ is how that sentence reads. I don’t think that sounds as if I’m saddling Tendulkar with all the blame.

    About the argument that a rough parity with the team’s runrate or Kohli’s runrate makes things right; it doesn’t. This argument has been something of a mantra since the Mirpur match. The only run-rate that Tendulkar’s needs to be compared to is his own before the slow down. Any one who watched that match will remember Tendulkar putting the brakes on. A player who changes gears to achieve a personal landmark in a match that ends in a narrow loss, must, reasonably, shoulder some responsibility for that defeat.

    The discussion seems in part to turn on his retirement. I’m not particularly keen to have Tendulkar retire any more than I wanted Dravid to retire. For someone born in the late Fifties, these four men (five counting Ganguly) and Tendulkar most of all, were a deliverance from a narrative of gallant defeat. Through their individual lows in the Noughties, I was happy for the team to ‘carry’ them because they were wonderful batsmen, they were younger and we were inching up Test cricket’s greasy pole. But everything (for me) changed after 8-0 pounding in the two tours that mattered. They demonstrated that the Famous Four couldn’t, as a unit, hold the line in testing conditions.

    If this was so, questions about their cricketing future were legitimate and necessary and all four of them needed to deal with these questions. Dravid chose retirement, Laxman and Sehwag stayed mum and Tendulkar responded in two ways a) who are these people? They didn’t get me into international cricket and they’re not going to usher me out of it and b) the selfish thing coupled with his nation shtick. These responses were, I thought, dumb and toe-curling respectively. This is a matter of taste: I find Tendulkar’s hokum about the nation distasteful not because I’m a decadent cosmopolitan but because I’ve never heard any major player milk this meme so relentlessly. Unless you want to condescend to Tendulkar as a man-child it’s reasonable to expect a great cricketer to contemplate sporting mortality with grace and/or common sense.

    Thanks again for this nicely temperate airing of arguments!

    Mukul

    • Why can’t you take him for his word when he talks about “serving the nation”. Just because you cannot comprehend and/or relate to the concept, calling it hokum is a grave injustice and borderline disrespectful to one of the greatest cricketers who has shown nothing but integrtiy all through his professional/personal life. Also, how is calling him “man-child” being condescending to him? I dont know the man, but may be thats the truth. May be that’s the explanation for the love he has for the game. May be thats the explanation for the consistency of his performances under constant scrutiny, pressure and weight of expectations. May be thats the explanation for his genius.

      Personally, I will believe him any day over what other people think of him.

    • I agreed completely with your article sir . Sachin was a man who refused to endorse liquor . The same man is partying over his 100th 100 when the team is going through one of its worst run in history and when his 100th 100 was partly responsible for defeat in Asia cup . And when asking critics who these people are – Kapil Dev was a critic . At the time he was one of those people who groomed him in international cricket . Do i see arrogance or hypocrisy over here ? And if you think you are at your best you should serve the nation than retire – then why are we against the likes of karunanidhi and LK advani serving the nation – after all they are at their best even at 80’s and they think are capable enough to serve the nation . It would be prudent for Tendulkar to bring a meaningful end to his legacy and 23 years of hard work than give such self denial , arrogant interviews when all the team expects you to be is a little responsible .

      • sidvee says:

        Thanks for the comment, Kishore. You say: “It would be prudent for Tendulkar to bring a meaningful end to his legacy and 23 years of hard work than give such self denial , arrogant interviews when all the team expects you to be is a little responsible.”

        When did we start becoming so picky about what SRT acknowledges and what he does not? Like a lot of cricketers, he has said a load of bollocks in press conferences all his life. Like everyone else, he has built walls around himself and blatantly shouldered arms to several obvious points. Suddenly we expect him to shoulder some part of the blame for India’s defeats? Do we make such demands from every other cricketer? When Dravid retired, did we scrutinize every single point and try and seek their validity? No.

        I think we are getting increasingly anal with SRT. Familiarity (over 23 years) has surely bred contempt.

      • san says:

        This is to respond to Sid’s comment to this comment.

        Why suddenly you expect every other cricketer to be demanded as we demand from Sachin? Has everyone else been given the unconditional adulation, ‘God’ tag by media and followers, a guaranteed spot in the eleven, right to pick and chose tours?

        When you dont complain when there is an unbalanced praise, why complain when there is an additional demand than the others?

      • sidvee says:

        You seem to have spoken for me there. Don’t you realize our fault in all this? We put him on a pedestal, we give him a divine status and then expect him to behave the way we want him to. He has religiously maintained (no pun intended) that he is merely a human being.

      • san says:

        Thanks for your response, Sid. I agree it is not fair to blame him for what may be our expectations. However, my simple submission is:
        – Why should we try to justify him playing for his record and slowing down the run rate (irrespective of whether we lost because of that or not). Can’t we just admit that the moment got the better of him and he succumbed to the pressure, did something that was not a good example, and just move on? It does not make him less talented anyways.

        Are we also not putting him on a high pedastal when we try to justify everything he does.

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks for the comment, Mukul. It’s always good to hear your thoughts. My point about the run-rate – had this been an India loss when another batsman scored a hundred, it is unlikely that we would be going into such forensic detail about strike-rates between 90 and 100. Also aren’t we being a bit too demanding by expecting him to publicly ‘shoulder some responsibility for that defeat’? Should every player in every post-match press conference accept that he was (in some way) responsible for the defeat? I can understand if this was a World Cup final and Sachin’s slow batting had a big role in India losing. But I would think the comparatively inconsequential nature of the match does allow us to absolve him of publicly accepting any blame?

      Regarding Tendulkar milking the meme of the nation, is it entirely his fault? Haven’t we come to accept and expect the marketing nonsense that goes on around him? Haven’t we written pieces about (or alluded to) Tendulkar’s place in the national consciousness? Hasn’t Tendulkar been often used (often unfairly) as a way to explore the master narrative of India’s post-liberalized outlook? Haven’t we all milked this meme to death?

      Again, thanks for taking the time out to comment. It’s been a most enriching discussion.

      • san says:

        Sid, I firmly think Mukul has a valid point. When a player performs below his potential for a personal milestone that calls for some criticism. While he may not be blamed alone for the defeat, I do not think it is unfair even not to question his attitude.
        Also, I don’t understand when you say this is ok for an ‘inconsequential’ match and may not be ok for a world cup. Are we expected to perform based on the profile of the match. Who is to decide which are consequential and which are not?
        I think Sachin is the greatest batsman ever to have graced this game. But I certainly don’t think he is above criticism or with the ‘God’ tag most of his blind followers have bestowed on him.

    • Amit says:

      Mukul,
      Would you stop writing after a successful book? What would it take for you to stop? Failure in one book or two? Or would you still believe that you have it in you to turn it around?
      The one sided view of SRT that you’ve painted here isn’t the issue. Many seemed to followed suit but then Anyone with a keyboard and access to Internet can be a critic these days. The real problem i have with it is the fact that you are so bent on defending your point of view that any other view just doesn’t seem acceptable. The truth lies somewhere in between and is not an absolute, just a version of reality.
      your sensibilities on how to respond to journalists might be different but as a responsible writer, i hope u wud agree that your sensibilities can’t be the template others live their lives by, least of all sachin.

    • Akpy says:

      Mukul…it is ok if you are not a fan of Sachin and like Dravid more, each one to their own. But, the points which you have used to bash up india’s greatest cricketer is shameful and immediately someone like Malcolm cohn retweeted it to whole of australia. It is probably
      what your aim was anyway as each and every point you made against Sachin can be
      made against any other cricketer including your beloved Dravid. I am indeed a fan of
      Sachin but I would not stoop down to pull other Indian greats like you have done. Briefly to put your allegations into perspective:
      1.We lost heavily in recent series but Sachin was celebrating his individual milestone – so, do you have a cut off date for mourning to end?? If Sachin, Dravid, etc keep brooding over past results, do you think they would have ever go onto make the next contribution? You move on from your disappointments dont you? Does that mean you don’t care? To suggest this about a man who has served Indian cricket for 23 years shows your small minded ness. This was not the first series India lost – it is like suggesting Dravid should have never played cricket after 2007 WC, how ridiculous is that notion?
      2. Conveniently you have slipped in that dravid was the outstanding performer but he retired thus putting him on a pedestal superior to Sachin..why?? You have tried to be clever saying you are not suggesting he retires, etc and played around with the words used by Sachin in his press conference where he called select journalists. Were you called for this press conference? Hope your soreness was not due to missing out on the invitation list but after this article you dont deserve it anyway. Dravid shone in WI and Eng but for two years before that he himself admitted to contemplating retirement due to his poor form. As a batsman, you can get out to any ball and Sachin looked good in both England to some extent and was the stand out batsman in Australia despite being 2nd top scorer there. Dravid was outright poor in SA before and AUS later but you have selective memory I presume and special yardstick to analyse Sachin.
      3. Sachin avoiding media earlier, Sachin now fulfilling contractual obligations of his sponsors are all frivolous points nitpicking to criticise him. Which cricketer does not do this now and then? So, because he avoided obsessed media knowing their only focus is on his century, he is an escapist?? Please give us a break and let us not stoop to such low levels in talking about such great players.

    • Pradyuman says:

      MK, why should the onus be on the player to leave the field based on the judgment of others, who actually have no role in the running of the game? Whats dumb or toe-curling about it? He is perfectly entitled to drag on till he is allowed to. If the selectors lack guts and he takes advantage of that, there is nothing wrong with that, MK. Surely, an intellectual would appreciate that, MK, won’t he?
      And who is he really blocking by staying in the team that cannot be given a chance otherwise. You acknowledge that his average even on this dismal tours has been second best of all indian batsmen. Whats your point, Mukul? Can you point one Sreenath to Sachin’s Kapil who could not be inducted at the cost of Sehwag or Gambhir or VVS or Raina?
      As far as your ‘milking’ point is concerned, you make it seem that but for the ‘serving the nation’ point, Sachin did not warrant a place in the team. Is that your point, MK?
      My point, MK, is that if you really feel that Sachin’s continuance in Indian team is prejudicing its interests, then go after the people with power to put an end to it. Use your literary skills and intellect in showing them up. Begging/exhorting a player to retire and damning him for not voluntarily giving up what he either loves or uses to make his money is insane. No, its outright dumb, and coming from someone like you, it actually is toe-curling.

    • Great to see you posting here!

      Do you really believe Sachin’s on the wane as a batsman? As several watchers have pointed out, he was on top of his game at Lord’s and again at MCG. Yes, one fatal error is all it takes to end an innings, and that moment, early in the piece, became a frustratingly recurrent theme in his batting through 0-8. But is that a sign of his mortality as a batsman?

      Reg. the marketing monstrosity that the 100th 100 became – it is unfair to pin the blame for it on Sachin. He didn’t plan the script to play out this way, and you could see many times in the year, that he was desperate to get it over and done with. Who are we to question what he wears, and how and when he celebrates his milestones? The one question that is worth asking is: what kind of an environment is Indian cricket played in, where an entire country is ready to forget the team’s elimination from a tournament, and instead celebrate the very milestone whose pursuit threw the biggest spanner in the team’s chances in that tournament…?

      As for the ‘selfish’ statement – people, get over it already. Cricketers are not orators, and all of them have said strange things at some point in the career. Why, back in 2001, Sachin said Harbhajan is the best bowler in the world. The people asking him about his retirement (unfairly, if I may add – the man is super-fit, doesn’t creak in the knees like Laxman, doesn’t drop catches like Dravid, and doesn’t carry a paunch like Sehwag, in addition to often batting like a dream, albeit for short periods) wanted a throw-away line, and he gave them one. Let’s move on. But yes, lets stop asking people to ‘excuse’ what happened in Mirpur. What transpired there was quite obvious. As shit as India’s bowling was, Bangladesh would have struggled to chase down 320, which is what India would have got if SRT didn’t let the weight of the 100th bog him down. We didn’t win the World Cup by expecting our bowlers to defend par scores, but by trying to produce par+ scores
      while batting first.

      @Cornerd – Sehwag deserves as much stick for throwing away his wicket at MCG as Sachin deserves for what happened in Mirpur. Dravid’s hook in Adelaide was clearly a split-second reaction to a superbly directed and well-timed bouncer – you belittle your immaculate analysis by dragging that into your set of arguments. Comparing strike-rates with Kohli’s 60-odd is one of the more untenable defences I’ve seen in this whole discussion. Steve’s last-ball four off a rank wide ball from a village trundler was there to be whacked and he did. One lesser thing to worry about before play began the next day. As for West Indies’ idiotic celebration of the 400 – you can see what depths that sort of a culture has engendered in the region. Something tells me the golden generation of Windies cricketers would not have been so enamoured with allowing a milestone hijack the dead rubber in a series lost so miserably. And if Geoff Boycott’s landmarks is the yardstick by which we are measuring selflessness in batsmen, please help us god.

      • haha, no no. I didn’t bring in all these examples as a Nayagan-like defence (ask them to stop, then I’ll stop types…). Mine was a much simpler point. I am absolutely fine with each of those instances. For the Dravid example, he himself admitted in an interview that he got carried away in the heat of the moment. Batsmen are vulnerable when they are in the 90s, especially when they are searching for an elusive hundred. I can do an MK and write an elaborate post on how Ponting was selfish to attempt that single in Sydney, but that would be silly. Kohli’s comparison is again not to justify Sachin’s slow scoring, but when the entire team scored slower than their usual pace, it might possibly tell us something about the conditions and bowling? Btw, Boycott didn’t do anything selfish in that innings, it’s just the fans and media who created a furore.

  18. Vistasp Hodiwala says:

    @ cornerd:
    1. Yes I am. I don’t think he fits into the long term view of India’s ODI plans. VERY CLEARLY. And your point about Richards’ makes it even more fitting for me to say so. Most greats unfortunately cannot tell when their time is up; so the selectors will have to take that hard call soon, if Sachin cannot take it for himself.
    2. I know how badly I rooted for Kapil to break Hadlee’s peerless record. It was a high of a very special kind. But in retrospect, I put that down to the silliness of my younger days. You are right about Kapil merely ‘crossing’ Hadlee and what that obsession did was block a tearaway young fast bowler (Srinath) from playing in his prime. So today, I don’t feel that great about that record. In fact, if he would have stopped a couple of years ago, he would have finished with better figures with a halo that wouldn’t have been marred by those ‘tiresome’ years. I would hold the same view for any player regardless of whether he is Sachin or Dravid as well. When Dravid retired after the 0-4 drubbing, it was the right thing to do, which is also why we celebrated his career with gusto without any sense of grating. Great timing, when it comes to retirements, will always be respected. And we have only had Sunny’s to go by in all these years. (Not for once am I suggesting that Sachin should follow suit; not in Tests where he clearly has a lot to offer even for the next two years.)
    3.’Cricket is essentially an individual game played in a team format. It’s gonna have its share of natural friction between the two.’ Nicely put, but since it is played as a team sport, the team’s interest must hold precedence over the individual’s, at all costs. That’s my basic point and I am not sure if that’s so difficult a point to grasp.

  19. AN says:

    When Tendulkar said “Its selfish to retire when on top”, I’m sure what he meant by top was that he was batting well. The runs weren’t coming as expected but he knew that he was batting well (was evident as well during some of the knocks in Aus). Dravid said the same when asked on why he didnt quit after England. Dravid was getting runs too so that helped. But Dravid dropped quite a few catches on that tour.

    I am not sure if the slowing down part is right. Maybe he gets anxious and plays shots to the fielders. Although, I was really disappointed to see him refuse a single at Delhi during the Test match Vs WI.

    As for the 100th 100 marketing, I totally agree with you. Judge the player for what he does on the field. If the selectors feel he is not good enough or not in their future plans, drop him.

  20. Vishaal Bhat says:

    What if in the 90’s Atlas had shrugged? What if Sachin had said he couldn’t carry the burden anymore? What if Sachin had done a Maradona or a Paul Gascoigne and turned to alcohol and addiction?

    Are we not selfish to put our happiness before his?

  21. Dibyasundar says:

    There was a time when India used to support Sachin equivocally. Opposing Sachin was considered as blasphemy. There would always be two views on Ganguly, Dravid, Azhar etc. but never on Sachin. Now that a huge number of cricket fans have started questioning Sachin and his intent, it tells some story. Hopefully, Sachin realises this.

  22. sunil says:

    I just want to make one point.How can Mukul standing and watching from outside judge that sachin will not deliver in future based on the 8-0 defeatsThere were many like mukul in 2007 who thought that SRT shud retire after 2007 WC.Thank God that he didnt bcos after that he has played some of the best cricket of his life and since then has faltered only in these two series and that too by his high standard.I am not certain if mukul watched the match in australia.I know kohli outscored sachin but over a period of 4 tests sachin looked the 2nd best batsman in the series and in the 1st two test his batting was as sublime as ever.well u can say that srt 100 was partly responsible for loss though it was the bowler who lost it for us.If u go by merit alone sachin still deserve a place in the team.So this talk of tin eyed narcissism is absolute trash,How can mukul read the mind of sachin and make judgement based on his own assumption.I wud like to end with this line from RB piece on fab 5″ They have changed. They might compromise, gently and subconsciously: where once 80 was a minimum, now they might settle for 20 fewer. This deal is somewhat understandable. What is not is the appalling suggestion that they will be “accommodated” in the team as long as they agree to retire soon, so as to be given a fitting send-off. It puts individual before team, and these men surely will not stand for it”..

  23. nandisai says:

    One match which crossed my mind when there was mention of “Cricket is essentially an individual game played in a team format.” (http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/current/match/64081.html)

    Reactions from the Indian media was “Tendulkar disappointed at being deprived of double ton” – Outlook (http://news.outlookindia.com/items.aspx?artid=211129). With all the Dravid bashing, there was one exception reporting on this incident, ” “Even when he had Yuvraj as his partner and Yuvraj was going hell for leather and reached his 50 in double quick time, he showed no urgency. His captain showed immense patience for he was eager to have a go at Pakistan.” (http://www.hindu.com/2004/03/31/stories/2004033104802300.htm).

    Insider information is more credible and gives us an excellent narration of the incident, (John Wright in his Indian summers had stated – “Wright said had he been the captain, he would have declared a lot earlier, allowing Pakistan to face about 25 overs and with Tendulkar on about 170. But the former New Zealand captain also pointed out that Tendulkar needed to “move on” after tea when things got slow. “Dravid wanted less time in the field, but got caught a bit betwixt and between. At tea he told the batsmen he wanted 15 or 16 overs at the Pakistanis, and after tea a couple of messages went out. As I sat there watching the innings grind on, it crossed my mind that Tendulkar needed to get a move on,” Wright continued. “A final message went out saying they had one more over. Then Yuvraj got run out going for a quick single and Dravid called them in.”

    Wright felt there was fault all round. “I should have convinced Dravid to declare earlier and he should have grasped that it’s one thing to declare when a batsman’s 170 or 180, quite another when he’s 194. And Tendulkar should have pushed to get there quicker.” Once Tendulkar publicly expressed his disappointment, Wright knew they had a “hot potato on our hands”. (http://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/story/255244.html)

    This incident acted as a testimony to the age old statement, “Team is above individual!”.

  24. Sathish says:

    Sidvee, Thanks for the post.
    Not just MK but all those people who agree with him conveniently ignore few things like “poor bowling from Indians” and “better bowling from Bangladesh”. “Our bowling has always been weak” doesn’t become a smart excuse just because MSD used to say that in the pressers.
    And your friend who replied says “Bangladesh is lowly, in my view”. “Lowly” in what context? In the Asia Cup they were the only team that looked consistent. At home in ODIs they are as good as any ODI team. Pak vs BD: Hafeez 89 off 126 balls. pak defended 262. Finals: Hafeez 40 off 87 balls. Pak defended 236. I request you all to look at how the BD spinners (Abdur Razzak & Shakib) bowled in all the matches and then you will give the credit they deserve. Now MK keeps ignoring all these and refers Sachin being in denial.
    The outrage was more not just because of MK’s criticism of the 100th 100 but the writer interpreting Sachin’s answers in interviews and judging him. Sidvee – I am surprised you didn’t write about this one. MK in his article writes “There’s a bizarrely funny photograph of Tendulkar at a press conference in a shiny shirt, flanked by two anonymous corporate men”. I request you all to read that paragraph once more. It is at this point that the article started to become a personal attack on SRT.
    May be people like MK and others who agree with him know the game more than Sachintards and some of them even know more than SRT himself. But do they know more about SRT the person? If it is someone who knows more SRT, it is himself or may be his brother or his coach or his team mates. And how do they give feedback to SRT? May be personally by contacting him. SRT probably meant this when he said “These critics didn’t teach me how to play”. And since when did you all start expecting SRT to behave in the way you expect him to. If he decides when he wants to talk to the press, does that make him a criminal? I remember one ex-Australian cricketer (now commentator) criticising SRT for over-working in the nets.
    MK did say that SRTs slow innings was one of the reasons for India’s loss. But by talking only about that again and again and ignoring all other aspects like submissive captaincy, poor team selection, poor bowling and fielding etc India will face problems in Tests, ODIs and T20s whether SRT plays or retires and however he plays.
    A lot of these SRT haters also think that it requires “courage”,“Balls”,”guts” etc to write about Sachin. Looking at the various articles on SRT in the recent months I don’t think so. Anybody can write anything about Sachin and as long as the article is negative – you are going to be hailed as a hero by all the SRT haters and villain by all Sachintards. And as in cinema in both cases you will be popular.

    • Fan1 says:

      Sathish, in the paragraph that starts “maybe people like ..” put Mamata Banerjee or Manmohan Singh and it makes the same amount of sense as it does now. I didn’t know that every journalist who writes about Obama or Cameron, or Jayalalitha for that matter, know them personally.

      • Sathish says:

        Fan1, I wish you could analyze the original article written by MK so closely. Anyways to clarify – I am not sure on what basis you make the comparison but I wrote that when Sachin said “These critics didn’t teach me how to play” he probably meant that these people knew less about him and his game that he don’t take them seriously. This is not the first time someone is saying that. In 2007 when Chappell wanted SRT to retire Kumble reverted back “Ian Chappell has got nothing to do with Indian cricket….he does not know Indian cricket”.
        http://www.indianexpress.com/news/ian-knows-nothing-about-indian-cricket-kumb/27301/
        No one made an effort to examine Kumble’s statement then. Now just because SRT gives interviews it is scrutinized word by word. Both in the MKs article and the 2nd half of Sidvee’s post important facts were conveniently negelected. For eg:- the ever reliable Nagraj Gollapudi has written what SRT said about the celebrations. “I don’t think we are celebrating just that game. Where I have reached today, it has taken me 23 years to be at that place. Results are very important for me. Yes, it was a disappointment for us to not make the final, and let me tell you there was no major celebration after I scored a hundred as we had lost the match”. Isn’t that enough? coming from the man himself.

  25. raja viswanath says:

    Ohh….. to be practical… there is nothing wrong in losing a match for tendulkar’s century who won us many more matches before….

    • san says:

      Really sad to see people justifying losing a match for an individual milestone and even consider this as the practical thing.
      I seriouly hope there are not many who subscribe to such slave mentality.

  26. Longmemory says:

    This discussion is quite welcome for its civility and good sense. I did not even bother to read the ones on cricinfo in response to MK’s article knowing fully well they would be dominated by the Sachin is God crowd. Its hard to have any sort of sensible discussion when every MK or SidVee is drowned out by a thousand Rohan Bhaleraos.

  27. Not sure which part of this is hard to comprehend: Cricket has no problem celebrating the heroic knocks that didn’t necessarily led to victories. It has a problem celebrating the selfish knocks that lead to teams’ defeats.

    Is there anyone complaining about Sachin’s 136 in the Chennai test even though it can be argued that a Lara or Dravid would have performed better under pressure and won the match? Unfortunately in his pursuit of a meaningless milestone Sachin didn’t merely cost us a match but an entire series. Dravid and Lara would not even dream of playing an innings like this.

    To the apologists: Don’t blame us, blame your hero.

    • Pradyuman says:

      Dravid played that much, O Wise One!

    • chandan3 says:

      And why is it so difficult to understand that it was not just the celebration of a cricket knock but an entire cricket career of 23 years where the player had scored 100 centuries?

      • Murali Mohan says:

        How silly it is to blame it on an individual who scored more than 100 runs for a team’s defeat when 10 others also played? Think and answer..

  28. Thanks for this piece presenting both sides of the debate, Sid.
    I tend to agree with a lot of what Mukul has said. Not just in his piece but in the comment he’s left above.

    Yes, Sachin is THE symbol of India’s rising respectability in world cricket in the last decade or so. Every cricket lover worth his salt, anywhere in the world (whether Indian or not), salutes the guy for his batting, for his achievements – and increasingly, for his almost unbelievable longevity in the game. His conduct has also been almost impeccable – inspiring not just cricketers but people (old and young) of every field.

    He has received accolades from far and wide for this – and totally deservingly. We’ve all celebrated his achievements together, we’ve basked in the glory of his successes, he’s been our NATIONAL symbol of pride. Each one of us feels he owns a little bit of Sachin. :-)

    And yet, while conceding ALL this, I still tend to agree with Mukul. His was an honest piece (very few of them out there actually) looking at not just the side of Sachin we all know (and keep showing to ourselves) but also another, somewhat, less talked about (but increasingly whispered-about) side.

    I will not talk about how much Sachin’s slowing down affected India’s game against Bangladesh. It has been discussed quite a bit already – and Mukul’s comment further explains it very well.

    I will however talk about your point that Sachin should be judged on his on-field performance only. Sorry, he is a public figure, a national icon, a role-model, all that. Much more than just a cricketer. You cannot have a role-model (across all of society) on one hand – and then say he should be judged by his performance only on a cricket field. Yes, say that for Bhajji – I will understand. Not for Sachin. He has long transcended the narrow realm of just cricket in the public mind.

    As for the marketing of Sachin, all I can say is *sigh*. We know that commercialisation is so deeply ingrained in the game now that I will not be surprised if each fielding position is sold to a sponsor. So we could have a Docomo third man and a Micromax square leg. After some time we could drop the “third man” and “square leg” and just say Docomo or Micromax. (One request : please kill me before that happens!).

    I’m digressing. What I mean is – Mukul (and he speaks for many, I think) is saddened by the extreme commercial exploitation of cricket – and, as its most visible and marketable Indian brand, Sachin. Not that anything can or will be done about it – it’s more a lament than anything. I tend to put it down more to Sachin hangers-on and his PR and marketing machinery than to Sachin himself. We’ve known him for 23 years now and he’s always come across as humble and low-key. So if suddenly there’s a lot of partying going on for his 100th, I think we can safely say most of this is from others and not initiated by Sachin himself.

    Lastly (and this is getting to be a pretty long comment), I don’t think anybody who loves Indian cricket (and has SOME idea of the game) is asking for Tendulkar to leave right now. We all know he’s still got it in him. So he hasn’t been blazing hundreds but he’s shown glimpses at times, but not carried on. As long as he’s contributing, he fully deserves his place.

    At the same time, comments like “how can you even THINK of dropping Tendulkar?” are ridiculous. If and when he stops contributing (for an extended period of time), IF he doesn’t retire on his own, surely the only option is to drop him? That should not be seen as blasphemy but as a sensible, mature decision by the Board in the interest of the team.

    Whew, that was a long comment! Thanks for your patience in reading it. And once again, thanks for your piece. It was good to read both sides of this most interesting debate.

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks for the comment, Raja. I find this part curious: ‘We’ve known him for 23 years now and he’s always come across as humble and low-key. So if suddenly there’s a lot of partying going on for his 100th, I think we can safely say most of this is from others and not initiated by Sachin himself.’

      I think we have seen enough of marketing men trying to milk every last paisa from Tendulkar. He might have remained humble but at no point of time can I say he was ‘low-key’. He was always in our faces (on TV screens, in newspapers and in pop culture). He commercial bandwagon has grown into a monster over time and it was only obvious that the 100th 100 was going to be the chances for the ultimate marketing orgasm of all. It was never going to be any other way.

      And as you yourself say, we can assume this ugly PR blitz was initiated by others and not Sachin himself. So why blame Sachin for it? Why see it as a reflection of *him* rather than a reflection of a world he finds himself in?

      • Thanks, Sid. What I meant by “low-key” is that he’s never come across (at least to me) as somebody seeking out publicity. Of course, he was always in our faces because of the commercials he did. But yes, I agree with you – Sachin can certainly not be blamed for the PR blitz surrounding the 100th 100. That’s the world we live in. Just wondering – purely hypothetically, if he had said “NO, I want it to be a quiet affair. I don’t want ANY big bash following this 100th” would he have got away with it? Would everybody have left him alone? Is he bigger than the marketing machinery around him? I’m not sure. Not suggesting for a moment that he should have said this – just a hypothetical scenario.

    • atlas says:

      “His article was a honest piece”
      seriously ..despite the misrepresentation of facts and lop sided analysis..

  29. Madhu says:

    I think such a big discussion about Sachin Tendulkar itself is a tribute to one of the greatest batsmen of all time!! Was wondering about 2 scenarios if Tendulkar had never become a cricketer!.

    1. India would never have had a man to celebrate or ridicule so much about.
    2. All our blogging sites would have had 25% less to debate, news channels and sports channels would have made a lot less profit than they have been making.

    So, let us be thankful that Sachin Tendulkar is not only helping us pick our cricketing and analytical brains but also is helping a nation’s economy in a large way!!!

    Long Live SRT!!!

  30. rothrocks says:

    I think it is quite clear that Tendulkar has been sending out confused signals for sometime. All I get from this article is that maybe another interpretation of his statements is possible. Having said that winning is more important than personal landmarks several times before, the man chooses to preside over a media do to celebrate a 100 hundreds. The only proper way would have been an official function by the BCCI or ICC to celebrate the landmark, I don’t want to know what Nita Ambani, Salman Khan or Priyanka Chopra have to say about the subject from the lofty perch of Antilla.

    It clearly shows the desperation of the sponsors to cash in on the landmark. And if he plays ball, he will have to cop some of the criticism too. Tendulkar is not a kid but a mature 39 year old, capable of taking decisions for himself. Let’s not cut him too much slack. If he doesn’t like to read contracts, he should ask advisors who can, to read it and tell him all about the implications and I am sure he does so. With that told, it’s a package, this celebrity business, there’s the good and there’s the bad of it. If people didn’t scrutinize his actions so much, that would be because he is not a celebrity and I am not sure how many superstar sportsmen would try want out of celebrity….not just the attention but also the money.

  31. Amit says:

    Go take a look at the total runs scored or hundreds made in victory alone. Most players don’t have that many in a career, let alone in victorious causes. And he may not be in the long term future plans of the team, but then in the long term, we are all dead!
    As for younger players, well they need to get here on merit. Push the guy out if he’s performing, but don’t talk of a place in team as someone’s birthright. That’s the casteist, quota system, which while prevalent in the rest of society, hasn’t yet gotten to our cricket team. Thank GOD for that!

  32. sandeep ajila says:

    What really bugged me abt Mk’s article was his misreporting. He said tendulkar blamed the lack of opening partnerships for the defeat in australia.When did he say that? He said lack of partnerships did them in.Plus, that thing abt being selfish to retire when at the top was said when he was asked why didnt he retire after the world cup.This misrepresenting of facts by kesavan really irritated me.Cuz there r a lot of readers who will take what he wrote as face value cuz he is writing for cricinfo.As for the rest , i realise the 2 groups of for – sachin and anti- sachin will never meet in the middle. No point talking or discussing it. Only thing is i wish people remember cricket is a sport and sport as such was meant for enjoyment and a a way to relax. It is not so much abt winning and losing.If people get joy from a guy scoring a century and the team losing, does it make them any less patriotic? And dravid said mostly the same thing abt retiring when the team needs u being selfish, as has been pointed above, and no one said anything. And to be fair to sachin, he will steal earn millions from IPL even if he retires today, so playing for the nation may not be so far fetched as our pukka sahib MK THINKS.

  33. Hi Mukul,

    Good to see you here.

    “one of the reasons India lost…” is a convenient hedge, isn’t it? It’s such a marginal factor in the end. Even Kohli scoring at much less than career strike rate was one of the reasons. The bowlers not able to defend 30 odd in the last 3 overs was one of the reasons too, a lot more significant one. Standalone that statement would have been fine. But combined with the theme of the piece, it’s hard to argue that you didn’t put a substantial part of the blame on Sachin.

    “About the argument that a rough parity with the team’s run rate or Kohli’s run rate makes things right; it doesn’t. This argument has been something of a mantra since the Mirpur match. The only run-rate that Tendulkar’s need to be compared to is his own before the slow down”

    Oho! boy, that’s quite a statement to make. So, if I can generalize this, a batsman has to play his natural game (or whatever was the pace at which he had been scoring till then) irrespective of his individual score at any stage of the match. Very idealistic thought indeed. Like I have pointed out in one of the earlier comments, if you apply this rule, every batsman who’s scored a reasonable number of hundreds is culpable.
    Am I refuting the point that he slowed down? No. Was it selfish? Perhaps. Such level of friction between the individual interest and team interest has always existed in Cricket since it began. If you have to apply this level of scrutiny across history, how many batsmen will come out clean? On one level you are accusing him of being out of form and going through a year without a hundred – a proof of his delusion. And yet, you find his struggle to get that monkey out of the way selfish. Ok, let’s assume he played his natural game and got out – oh! There you go, yet another innings without a hundred, that too against a lowly B’desh. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. As I said, in good teams, an individual (an important team member at that) is expected to be given his space to work his way out of a rut – an elusive hundred in this case – agt a fairly low-ranked team in which you can afford be sub-optimal and still be expected to win comfortably. To corner him at his most vulnerable is neither reasonable nor gracious.

    Even I find his hokum about the nation distasteful, as much as Steve Waugh and Rahul Dravid’s hype abt the Baggy Green and the India cap, possibly because I am a decadent cosmopolitan. But to infer that he milks the theme relentlessly is, ahem ahem, a bit of stretch, isn’t it? He’s been hyped as the representation of all things India before he could even realize if tribal notion of nationality is even valid. That’s just the way he possibly thinks. He’s been saying the same things for all these years. In 1998, we thought he was naive, now it’s cunning, is it?. If you have identified a theme and are in search of samples to validate all your claims, these are great samples. A man with a hammer and all that…Again, you have a problem with him uttering clichés and think he milks them, and yet, you have a problem with a straightforward pragmatic answer. He genuinely thinks he can still contribute to the team and finds it ridiculous that some random guy in the press wants him to retire. Of course everyone has a right to say he should retire, just as much as he has a right to say it’s none of your business. He’s not questioning one’s right to opine that he should retire, but your right to thrust one’s opinion on him. Not for a moment did you bring up the role of selectors in this whole dynamics. A bunch of selectors who enjoy bonuses on par with the most lucrative career out there in the market.

    At one of the spectrum, we have the “Sachin is God” gang, and at the other, we have this “Oh…he is so flawed and full of himself” gang. But in this whole debate, those who believe he is God are more at ease with his vulnerability, but those who think he is flawed expect him to be a God at all times.

    • sandeep ajila says:

      Excellent points. The last line was brilliance itself.One more point.Since Sachins strike rate in the match has been of such debate, Rahul Dravid’s career strike rate in one matches is 71.Does that mean he played selfishly throughout his career?

    • sidvee says:

      Your last para reminded me of Prem Panicker’s piece from 2009 where he says:

      “The first group holds that Sachin is god, period. It is an absolute deification that permits of no ifs and buts. The other group argues that this ‘god’ may walk on water or, on occasion, convert water into sparkling champagne — but like all gods, he fails with distressing regularity to avert the catastrophes that threaten to overwhelm us. Of what use is a god who can walk on water to us who drown in the flood?”

    • good_point says:

      >>But in this whole debate, those who believe he is God are more at ease with his vulnerability, but those who think he is flawed expect him to be a God at all times.

      This sums up all the debates around SRT. Especially from the ones with the ‘balls’ to call spade a spade.

      MK said in his comment above – “A player who changes gears to achieve a personal landmark in a match that ends in a narrow loss, must, reasonably, shoulder some responsibility for that defeat.”
      Well Kohli took 16 balls to score 90-100 in game against Pak. For what selfish milestone did he slow down, Did he foresee that India will eventually win the match ( at that point of time!!!)

      When SRT slowed for his 100th 100 that had been nagging for over a year, did he forsee that it will put India in a losing position? How many actually believed at the half time ( in fact until 45-46th over) that India is going to lose the game ‘comfortably’.

      Kohli’s (and many more others’) slowdown – will never be talked about, as we ( he) eventually won the game, but that slow down should not be any in-excusable than SRT’s unless Kohli had a crystal ball – especially when Kohli was in as good form as possible.

    • Emm.. What about those who think he’s flawed and aren’t surprised when his vulnerabilities show up? Your last line sounds good, but does little else.

      • chandan3 says:

        If they aren’t surprised, why can’t they take it in the stride and move on? Why the extra scrutiny?

    • chandan3 says:

      Brilliant points, @cornered! Agreed with your’s and Sid’s earlier posts too.

  34. Rajen Panikkar says:

    The 100 100s is consigned to history but the media concocted pedestal upon which SRT’ s beatification was menat to be a fait accompli, has become a petard upon which the carcass of an ingrate has been hoisted and stoned by a vengeful mob. Vengeful because they were denied for too long precisely what they were demanding, immediate confirmation or instant gratification of the faith placed in a man accorded God like status. His subsequent ‘failures’ shattered this faith in his omnipotence. If he had granted this impatient mob what they demanded immediately – given us instant gratitification – he would be buried in a hail of bouquets instead of brickbats. Moreover he failed to do so at every at every grand stage. He really should have gone to the West Indies instead of disrespecting them and trying to stage-manage this feat. Talk about a promethean moment, surely this was a case of the Gods punishing a man who dared to think he was God, or believed in those who thought he was a God. But whatever his only too human foibles are SRT is more than worthy to grace the game at its very highest level. It wasnt very long that he scored 200 in an ODI, defied Steyn and co at their very best, made run making look easy In England and Australia until for whatever reason his composure failed him. I for one will mourn his retirement.

  35. Sriram says:

    Hi Mukul,

    Thanks for taking the time out to respond.

    I agree that Tendulkar’s slow down in the Bangladesh game was a factor in India’s loss. Normally, that would disappoint me, but this time it doesn’t. Here is why. Over a decade ago, I wrote an exam that I spent two years preparing for. I should have approached it like the second mid-term test of seventh grade. But I didn’t — I wanted it too badly, put pressure on myself and froze on the day. I did much worse than I should have. This experience is by no means unique, billions go through this and I am sure you have seen some variant of this yourself. This is all that happened with SRT that day. The only difference was that his skill and the pressure on him were each multiplied by a factor of a gazillion or so from most people. Therefore, all I feel for him is empathy — a batsman, under pressure that I can’t imagine, and will certainly never experience, scraping out a hundred — in spite of the fact that his slow down contributed to a loss. Also, given that he typically doesn’t slow down as he approaches a hundred (and often makes up for it after crossing hundred even when he does), I am willing to cut him a lot of slack for this.

    I certainly didn’t like the galas that followed his hundred. Or to borrow David Remnick’s colourful phrase, I tried not to vomit more than once. I see two explanations for the tamasha. The first is that Tendulkar has been riding the advertising tiger for a long time, with great skill and poise, (as Sharda Ugra says here http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/507814.html) but he just didn’t know how to get off. The second is that he genuinely likes this stuff and is actually pushing for them (btw, there’s nothing wrong with this). Could it be the second? Sure. But, given his track record, I would say that the first is more likely.

    — Sriram

  36. Vistasp Hodiwala says:

    I am following all the comments here with a lot of interest but I am not sure we are going to change what we believe in on this rather ’emotive’ subject. Anyway there is one more piece I found rather interesting, so while we are at it, here’s more grist to the mill.
    http://cricket.yahoo.com/news/the-god-of-a-hundred-things.html?fb_action_ids=10150946057608662&fb_action_types=news.reads&fb_ref=type%3Aread%2Cuser%3AlAArK6p01ujfO5DLHZI0d-_-C5I&fb_source=feed_news

  37. Just before India’s tour of Bangladesh, when Sachin was still on the “99th Hundred” of his cricketing career, a friend of mine declared on Facebook that he would lose all respect for Sachin if he scores his 100th 100 against Bangladesh. When questioned, and rightly so, if that’s what it takes to forget his class prior to the landmark, he quickly responded by saying, which I found rather odd, that his comment applies for “Sachin” not “God”. Rather difficult to grasp the context in this, but I think what he signified was the classic divide, exposing the forked state of mind of a Cricket fan in this country, fitting to the titular concept. (Only finding both in the same person is indicative of Dissociative Identity Disorder but who’s perfect?)

    There are always two views on Tendulkar, like there are on God. And let’s take that analogy further because it accommodates itself so comfortably here. I know there are religious fanatics, but I personally have a problem with atheists. The exalted ‘practical’ outline of the world, on which they ride so highly upon, is in itself so flawed by emotion, it is almost paradoxical. MK’s article was not a practical take on Sachin’s career, it was shrewd and biased. Obviously so because Sachin is so highly regarded in this country. The “atheists” always go an extra mile to confute, and then they lose their heads.

    Yes, we lost the match to Bangladesh. Yes, we lost the tournament as well after scoring as many points as the home team. A bonus point against Sri Lanka would have done the trick. Heck, a better run rate would have done the trick. Oh, how unfortunate that the match which cost us the tournament was the match Sachin scored his 100th 100. Unfortunate, not deliberate.

    MK’s piece focused on everything that was dull in Sachin’s performance over the past year and tilted towards a cross tone by the end of his I-see-it-but-you-don’t article. And I am not even reading too much into his unnecessary clawing of the marketing that Sachin’s been getting. That’s one of the saddest conspiracy theories I’ve heard in a while. A rather brilliant maths teacher of mine once said, it takes that many good scores to attain the tag of a ‘good student’ but one bad score, one dip and they would always remember that, snatching away your glory. Ironically, she gave this example to explain ‘average’ when she was teaching us statistics. Hence, concluded.

  38. Rachit says:

    i wanted to comment but after reading all the comments i have nothing more to comment :) nice post and most decent discussion/debate/argument regarding SRT that i have seen ensued.

  39. Mohan says:

    Do we have somebody better than Sachin to replace him? Have we not tried any youngsters in foreign conditions. Did we not need to call RD back to ODIs because the Gen X cannot play bounce? Anybody who says that Sachin does not deserve a place in side should suggest at least one replacement along with that comment. Atleast that way we can all get a few good laughs from these articles.

    If it’s up to reporters they will throw out the bathwater with baby in it. And then wail about the same.

    Bottomline: Bash tendulkar, it gets good publicity, the article gets read and commented on. Mission accomplished.

  40. Ayush says:

    Despite being a huge Sachtard(that’s what I am called a lot these days) I have no problems with people criticising Sachin for what happened that day. It is pretty obvious that he slowed down and while I can see the reasons for him slowing down I don’t think anyone in wrong in having an issue with it. What has hurt me badly though has been the kind of criticism that’s been thrown in , I think people have every right to call for his retirement and all but there is no need to say that he is being carried by his pr houses , there is no need for the coke and Adidas mention in that article. I just read a former CI man on twitter compare this to Hansie gate . I just think that it’s ok to criticise but the man has done enough to atleast not insult him to such levels, same holds true for all the Bharat Ratna debates(Aakar Patel and stuff) .

    • Haris says:

      Rohan, you sure put the ” fan ” in fanatic !! Sachin, , arguably, is the greatest batsman of his time, if not ALL time . He is still miles better than anyone in the Indian team, don’t even mention Kohli in the same breath !! But, he has become bigger than the game in India . In fact, for his fans he is the game-witness the celebration of this totally
      manufactured milestone. This cannot be good for the Team as a whole. Yes, he should
      play for India as long as he justifies spot in the team and not a moment thereafter.The selectors should find the balls to drop him if need be- I am sure we will survive this national calamity !!

    • Vistasp Hodiwala says:

      Most reasonably put, Ayush. I think we would always have a far more mature debate around this man if we had fans like you. This thread is proof of that and let me say it’s a glaring exception. Unfortunately on most sites, you just cannot criticise the ‘God’ and hope to go through the day with a healthy appetite.

    • Sathish says:

      Agree with you. Sometimes it is people like them (former sub-editor of a sports website) who make Sachitards out of normal Sachin fans. Firstly, without any provocation he compares Rahane’s 100 in IPL to SRTs 100 in the Asia Cup. Then not only he compares SRTs innings to Hansie-gate, he stood by it and was trying to justify it. When SRT fans who follow him for his cricket expertise question his logic he asks them to “unfollow”. How easy? If people like them can start judging SRTs integrity you will have Sachitards defending SRT with equally bad comments.

    • My Hansiegate tweet has been taken out of context. I will try one last time to explain where that came from. Someone on Twitter wanted to know why I would not let go of this 100th 100 issue. My honest answer was that some issues aren’t easy to forget. Some people will never forget Hansiegate, and I will never forget the Mirpur nonsense, since it hurts. Since I believe a selfless Tendulkar on that day would have given India the Asia Cup, despite the jokers bowling for them. And while a lot of Sachtards have since pointed out how meaningless the Asia Cup is – trust me guys, after 0-8 and the CB series KLPD, the Asia Cup would have given all of us a rare reason to smile.

      Sachin put his milestone – unintentionally at that instant – ahead of India’s chances to win. What did Hansie do again? The difference is vast – Hansie did what he did knowingly. They aren’t the same thing, and I didn’t claim so or intend to imply so. But the fact remains that in both cases, an individual put something ahead of the team’s cause. And try as hard as some Sachtards will, I am afraid I won’t forget.

      • Sathish says:

        “I believe a selfless Tendulkar on that day would have given India the Asia Cup” – OK, let me tell what I believe:
        1. I believe that we would have lost even if we had scored 320.
        2. I believe Bangladesh bowlers (spinners) bowled well in that match.
        3. I believe that you are disappointed that many are not agreeing with you beliefs.
        4. I believe that though a lot of cricket innings would have hurt you till now you will never compare anything else with Hansiegate.

        And yeah I will not ask you to move on. Please hang on to your beliefs and for every provocative tweet/comment you can start comparing this knock with spot-fixing, under-arm bowling and any such shameful instances in cricket that we cannot forget. Thanks.

      • Vistasp Hodiwala says:

        The ‘Mirpur Nonsense’ as you put it correctly, was just that – Nonsense with a a capital N! Sachinbhakts may not get that part, however anybody who saw that match knows what happened that day. And until one joins the dots and understands that there have been instances earlier (and I am not just referring to slow scoring) in his career when his sporting behaviour has displayed all-too human frailties and this wasn’t a one-off, this state of denial will continue as a nation. It’s because of such closely-guarded beliefs that Mukul’s rather straightforward piece has got everyone’s goat and even got one fan to do a discourse analysis, whatever that may be. I see no middle ground on this issue which has thoroughly split the romantics and the realists

      • sidvee says:

        I find it funny how the alleged ‘romantics’ try and explore the issue further by attempting some analysis while the alleged ‘realists’ continue to talk of joining the dots and anecdotal evidence. Can we see some rigor, please?

      • Murali Mohan says:

        We never want you to forget it.. All i ask is that how easy it is for you to sit in an AC room and blame a single individual for the loss of a game in the TEAM sport? Were the other 10 members watching Sachin’s mouth in the entire game?

      • Then what did dravid do for whole of his career? Dravid’s test strike rate is 42 and 71 in ODIs. Doesn’t that strike you then?

  41. persiesque says:

    The writer did have a lots of points wrt Tendulkar’s 100th century. But my bone of contention was the way in which he has aligned and used the semantics (right from the headline) to describe the said century and the landmark.

    As someone who has been taught Norman Fairclough’s Discourse Analysis, the writing almost looks at Tendulkar’s achievements through the prism of that one 100 and belittles it in the process.

    The headline (I don’t know whether the sub or the writer gave it) reads: “How not to close a great career”. It reads like one of those classic self-help DIY books like “Learn French to English in 30 days.” The word “close” tells me that the writer has had enough with Tendulkar and wants him to hang up his boots. The word “great” is a euphemism keeping in context the contents of the article.

    The writer uses the first three paras to set up the pace and the ambience of the piece. The words “fading” and “faded” are used twice perhaps indicating in a subliminal fashion that Tendulkar has faded. He then proceeds to talk about Dravid and how he has graciously called it quits “acknowledging” his form hasn’t up to scratch.

    The piece, which was till then, all about India’s struggles in overseas conditions suddenly switches gears and becomes a very polished, professional rant against Tendulkar.

    “inaugurated a noisy celebration of himself,” is how the writer begins to address the feat of Tendulkar. Now was it a “celebration of himself” or was it a celebration to acknowledge that he had achieved something rather unique in international cricket which may never be done again? There’s a massive difference between the two.

    The writer then goes on to talk about how Tendulkar did not spend time talking about how India had actually lost the match against Bangladesh. Why exactly will he talk about the loss (you could have at least mentioned somewhere in a corner that Tendulkar had acknowledged that it had been a struggle and had more or less enveloped him) when most of the pressers were arranged to celebrate the landmark. The people had come there to listen to him talk about the landmark. Not him making epiphanies and elegies.

    After making his points known, the writer next trains his guns on the tour Down Under and Tendulkar’s part in it. He asks him why the man who suddenly began dominating air space in the aftermath of the 100th 100, couldn’t make a single presser. I think Tendulkar answered this in his earliest presser after the 100. He did say something on the lines of I couldn’t escape the talk of the 100. It was everywhere. So given the climate, anybody would have wanted to introspect and sit in their hotel room rather than face the camera and talk about the team’s losses. And knowing how the media works, I wonder whether the media would have even bothered to ask Tendulkar about the team’s dwindling fortunes. It would all been about his 100th 100 and why it wasn’t coming.

    Then the writer proceeds to use the phrase “tin-eared narcissism” to describe Tendulkar’s quote on how if somebody is at the top, they shouldn’t retire. A bit hypocritic because the same writer uses a rather templated headline to come across as a career counsellor when he is merely filling out the top most section on a comment page on an international cricket website.

    Then the writer talks about Tendulkar’s ad career as if ad companies had only noticed him after the 2011 World Cup. It has been going on for a very long time and Tendulkar has been pictured next to shiny posters and representatives of conglomerates before the noughties. And he will be pictured with them again.

    Now to do a pictorial discoursement on the article, it’s pretty easy. The writer could have easily taken any number of Tendulkar getting out pictures over the last year. But no, that wouldn’t have been reverberated strongly with the piece. It had to be a picture from one of the promotional events. For then only, would it appear vulgar enough to people reading the opinion piece that here is a man who is more worried about his “brand” rather than “owning up” to India’s defeats. And interesting enough, there are a lot of words which you find in the business paper in the morning used here: “Brand”, “Crassness”, “Ownership”, “Publicity”, “Corporate”, “Gold” and so on.

    While it may well have been co-incidental, it may well have been crowbarred in to the piece…..

  42. flickorama says:

    Sid, it is somewhat sad to measure SRT’s greatness by the ‘hundred-100s’. He came of age by 1994 as an impact batsman, rightly bracketed with the likes of Bradman, Viv (and Barry) Richards, Mark (not Steve) Waugh, Lara, Inzamam, and Ponting. How he scored mattered more than how much. Along the way though, owing to injuries, he changed his style radically — this one aspect of his career saddens his critics like me (especially because he had a very capable set of peers like Laxman, Dravid, Ganguly and Sehwag). In ODIs, his focus became to play out 50 overs, rather than develop himself like the greatest impact-batsmen. Your example of SRT’s most recent innings against Pakistan is evidence of his impact-batsmanship. By changing his style, he surrogately became conscious of how many hundreds he had. I think, when coaches and captains wanted him to bat at no.4 in ODIs, it was for “impact,” particularly in the middle overs.

    For me, SRT has over time opted to become a beneficiary of a system that judges him on “class” rather than “form and fitness.” (I use the apostrophes because in India, the terms are so relative. Fitness is unfortunately negotiable.) The ‘hundred-100s’ is of more importance to sponsors and the BCCI than Tendulkar’s own greatness. That’s where I am completely with Mr Keshavan. IMHO, Tendulkar’s greatest one-day innings was the 82 of 49 balls when he first opened for India. It wasn’t a century, but amazing in terms of impact. In Tests, I love the 1999-Melbourne hundred most because of the context (our batting collapse) and conditions (fast, bouncy and moist), and opposition-pedigree (McGrath, Warne). It just happened to be a hundred, but that’s not what he or we should ever have been splitting hairs about. Unfortunately, the Mumbai brigade of former cricketers reduced his greatness to how many centuries he scored. It is only fair thereafter that he is subjected to this kind of incredulous speculation and debate.

  43. Hi Mukul,

    Good to see you here.

    “I don’t in fact put the responsibility for the defeat down to Tendulkar’s dip in run-rate alone. ‘one of the reasons India lost…etc’ is how that sentence reads.”

    Sorry sir, we don’t care about what you genuinely thought while writing the piece. We care about what Sachin genuinely thought before uttering the arrogant statement. Of course we are not hypocrites or fanatics.

    “A player who changes gears to achieve a personal landmark in a match that ends in a narrow loss, must, reasonably, shoulder some responsibility for that defeat.”

    Unacceptable thought indeed. I suggest you read this about how Sachin have always put the team before him.

    http://www.impactindexcricket.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=665

    And no, Sachin is not milking any theme relentlessly. He wants only an “Indian” to break his records. He is a “Proud Indian” on twitter. Not a proud Indian cricketer or anything. Just PROUD INDIAN. Simple. But when the IT tribunal comes asking for income tax though, he will become a proud Indian ACTOR. Now you wouldn’t call that cunning, would you? Also he wants his critics to teach him cricket. What’s wrong with that? A couple of hours in the weekends perhaps.

    That said, we can understand the other side of the argument — India doesn’t need God to win matches anymore. If only he stops to butt himself in the way of winning.

  44. vaidya says:

    My biggest gripe about SRT is with planning. Indian selectors have never been big on planning, but at a time when even the captain MSD is making statements about his own availability for the 2015 WC, its perplexing that one man who’ll be touching 42 by then keeps saying he has no idea.
    At the very least one would expect him to say that he’ll at least take a call after a year or after a particular series. But then, in his defense, he probably wants to avoid the usual media circus over giving a date.

    Coming back to the selectors, I am reminded of this post: https://sidveeblogs.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/legacy-whose-father-what-goes/
    where you outline the need for a medium-term and long-term plan. I clearly cannot understand where SRT fits into it. His walking in and out of the ODI team, which was acceptable considering that he was planning for the 2011 WC, is clearly heading towards the blatantly selfish. Imagine if he plays for a few years more walking in and out and a year before the WC decides he no longer has the drive for ODIs. You are left with a team with a revolving door at the top and others who have been walking in and out of the team based on the whims of one man (who’s not even a selector!). Remember that every time Gambhir moves to one down, someone loses a middle order spot. Was MSD’s rotation policy actually shielding the middle order from this? If yes, sheer genius! And I really hope SRT got the message! I want to see him continue in tests, but that’s the only format he should be playing.

    Retiring is always his call, but only when he’s playing well enough to warrant a place in the XI. Otherwise it should be the selectors’ call. Unfortunately for us, it’ll have to be the former no matter how well he’s playing.

  45. narayanan723 says:

    There are certain things where i agree with Mukul Kesavan’s views. 1. The media statements after the Asia cup were not needed especially after he chose not to speak through out the Australian tour. 2. He attributed the Australian debacle to a matter of one or two partnerships but it was clearly more than that. The person that Tendulkar is, he was truly honest in his assessments about the performance. He always likes to think positive and not let the team down with his statements. But coming out and saying that “We were poor” would have done not much damage to the team’s morale i think. Yeah, I sometimes do wish that if Sachin starts to talk like Dravid does.

    Now, regrading the slow scoring issue, I completely agree with Sidvee. When it is Tendulkar, we tend to micro analyze his game, it’s fine but there are some people who does it only to find faults in his game. They never say about the straight drives and the high elbows but only about the unsure footwork when he is in the 90’s. Again If you go back to that golden 2007-2010 period he never had any trouble reaching 100’s he was on a roll. Isn’t it quite natural that when a person who hasn’t scored a 100 for nearly a year and as a nation expects every time he goes out to bat to score the 100th 100 to slow down a bit to get the monkey off his back. As Nasser Hussain said, after all “Sachin Tendulkar is human”.

  46. sharath40 says:

    Thank you, Siddharth, for the post, and thank you, Mukul, for coming here and pitching in. I am a bit late to the party, but here goes. I will confine myself to the points that Mukul raised in his post here.

    1. The responsibility of losing that match against Bangladesh, Mukul says, is not on Tendulkar’s shoulders ‘alone’. He says it is ‘one of the reasons’. Fair enough. But that is true of every single team member in every single lost match. Whenever we lose a game, the team collectively has to take responsibility. This is true whether Tendulkar scores a hundred or if he gets out for a duck. One would think that a century-maker would be given LESS blame than others who did not pull their weight. Here we seem to be putting a ‘significant’ amount of blame on the century-maker. Why?

    2. Mukul seems to have concluded for certain that Tendulkar did slow down because he was thinking of his century. Why is this the case? Batsmen slow down for various reasons; some go into their shell in their thirties because of a good spell of bowling; some shots find fielders which on other days go into gaps; perhaps the batsmen have decided to go slow because of some other reason; the point is we don’t KNOW why Tendulkar slowed down. (Incidentally, people who watched the game know that there were three well-timed strokes that found fielders.) Tendulkar has given an explanation that Kohli and he talked of what the par score on the pitch was and played accordingly. Given all of this, why is Mukul still so adamant that ‘Tendulkar slowed down for his hundred’ that he states it as fact, both in his article on cricinfo and in his post here?

    3. Mukul finds Tendulkar’s ‘selfish’ comment toe-curling (which I assume is a negative reaction). But this is exactly what Dravid said in his interview. To paraphrase, when you’re batting well, retiring is ‘selfish’ because you could be out there performing and contributing to the team. Why is this concept so hard to understand? Mukul might not agree with it, but it is sound logic. If you’re good enough to perform, you should be out there performing, not retiring because you have some glorified notion of ‘quitting when you’re ahead’.

    Mukul gives us a lot of statistics that Tendulkar has not been batting as well as he could since the World Cup. That is correct, but it is also correct that anyone who has seen him bat over the last year would not agree with Mukul that he has been struggling. He has looked as good as he ever has without having the hundreds to show for it. Either way, his averages are not drop-worthy.

    4. Mukul finds Tendulkar’s ‘They didn’t get me into cricket, they won’t get me out’ comment dumb. But it is true, is it not? Tendulkar did not get into cricket because someone asked him to. He did not get picked to any of his teams (school, club, first class, national) by critics or journalists – or dare I say, bloggers. He started playing, and continues to play, because a) he loves the sport, and b) he is GOOD ENOUGH to play it at the highest level. Either a) or b) has to change for him to retire. At the moment, both hold true. So why should he retire? Just because he is 39?

    5. Mukul finds ‘Tendulkar’s hokum about the nation distasteful’. He says he hasn’t heard of any major sportsperson ‘milk this meme so relentlessly’. But this ‘meme’ (nation vs nation, sport as an analogy for war) is what sport is built on. The Davis Cup, the Olympics, the Fifa World Cup, The Cricket World Cup – all of these are built on this ‘meme’ that Mukul finds ‘distasteful’. As long as nation vs nation sport exists, and as long as it is widely followed, sportspeople that play these sports will think of themselves as ‘servers of the nation’. If Mukul does not like it that is his prerogative, but that doesn’t mean the emotions are hokum or distasteful. I am sure every Indian who saw the Indian flag draped around the cricket players on 2nd April 2011 felt some patriotism (‘real’ patriotism) stir within them.

    Mukul seems to assume again that Tendulkar is ‘milking the meme’. I would like to offer that he believes the meme, like all sportspeople do, and as part of their job, have to.

    Thanks
    Sharath

  47. Amit says:

    Much has been dissected here. So, I will restrict my observation to the part that is “non-cricket.

    What happened after his 100th century was one thing. And in my view, only one thing. The Brand Managers of Sachin Tendulkar – The Brand, maximizing on a phenomenon that will likely not be seen for the next decade. Business World loves that. An improbable success. That last second buzzer shot of Jordan, the 100th century, the home run streak of Sammy Sosa/ Mark Mcgwire, etc. They create an occasion out of it. And if you had the kind of shit loads of money riding on your “brand”, you’d do exactly as your PR person/ brand manager says. What do you expect him to do – play for the love of the nation and die a pauper like the stories you were never told? SO, yes. You may well be a refined individual. And you did not like the cheesiness of Sachin’s post-100th-100 media blitzkrieg, but that was serious money for a lot of brands. That can of coke, or the series of merchandise that will be created, the quiz question, the managerial analysis of long term success – spin it the way you want. But an improbable event in today’s world (like Ganesha stone idols starting to drink milk) gets unprecedented media attention. And so it did.

    Insofar as the analysis paralysis goes – show me a Jesus Christ, and I shall show you the flaw in the God. To each, their own belief. But the man has contributed well beyond statistics can figure out (and I am an analytics person by profession, with a profound love for data). Much as I have blamed Sachin for so many losses (where he did not find closure, while a Dravid or an Ajay Jadeja or a Yuvraj or some other team player did), when you look at the player in his totality, and his performance over the last two and a half decades, a moment of selfishness to get that 100-tonner weight off his chest – an unforgivable sin – has been forgiven. Much like Jordan coming back grom his retirement to play for Washington Wizards.

  48. bajit says:

    Nice read Sid. This discussion is really interesting and insightful.

    Here are my 2 cents:

    – Sriram has already given a neat analysis of balls taken to reach from 85-100. I’d like to add to it by stating a couple of recent examples, addressing SRT ‘slowing down’ between 90-100. These would be the 2 ODI 100s scored prior to the 114 (147) knock at Dhaka.
    – The reason why I choose ODIs is because the 100th 100 was scord in that format and obviously, it is quite different from a test 100.

    Example #1: 120 (115) against England in the WC: SRT took 10 balls to reach from 90 to 100. This even included a boundary.

    Example #2: 111(101) agianst SA at Nagpur in the WC: Again, SRT took 10 balls to reach from 90 to 100.

    I hope folks don’t claim that we didn’t win those games because Sachin ‘slowed down’ while going from 90 to 100.

    – Agreed that these are just 3 100s being analyzed out of 100 but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the average trend. Now, at Dhaka, SRT took 14 balls to reach from 90 to 100 to reach the milestone ton. Is this really deviating from the ‘norm’? Sure, I could state this as “Sachin took 40% more deliveries to reach his milestone 100”. While that is statistically true, it doesn’t really put things in the right perspective.

    – Also, the 2 knocks I’ve cited are knocks where his overall strike rate was ABOVE 100. So this also points out towards the possibility that his approach from 90-100 doesn’t change dramatically, regardless of the overall tempo of his inning.

    – I think what might have ticked people off about his inning at Dhaka is that he took 21 balls to reach from 80 to 90, including 6 dot balls in a row. Now, that, to me, IS slowing down because this is a statistically different performance from him. I’ll be cold and say that this had an influence on the outcome of the game. The extent of impact, in my opinion, is not dramatic as it was made out to be. Let’s not forget that he scored his next 14 runs (144 off 9) at a strike rate of 155.5. While this doesn’t change the slowing down that I mentioned earlier, it does offset it a little bit. But at the end of the day, our bowlers were woeful. And that, probably, was a bigger reason for us losing the game. Needless to say, had we won the game, none of this would have surfaced.

    Thanks.

    Ajit.

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks Ajit. I felt the same. I have never understood why people don’t consider the fact that ‘slowing down’ between 80 and 100 or 90 and 100 could be OK if he was racing through between 60 and 80 or 20 and 40. If one plans to dissect the strike rate at different times of an innings why limit it to 90-100 or 80-100. Why not draw a histogram for the whole innings in blocks of 10 or 20 or whatever. And then (this is crucial too) compare it with other batsman in the team and across the world. And across eras. Then we’re talking.

      • Since you’ve mentioned this 90-100 thing in a couple of places, Sidvee. No, Tendulkar doesn’t suddenly screech to a standstill when he reaches 90. Often, the slowing down begins much earlier than that, and its not like he decides – “I’ve reached, X, now I will slow down till I reach 100.” I am not going to rummage through CI to make my point – I’ll cite from what I remember – the 99th 100, v SA in Nagpur. After hurtling breakneck to a 60-70 score, Sachin suddenly becomes a nudger, pusher.. After smashing the covers off Steyn, Morkel and co. he would suddenly become a gatherer against lesser bowlers. And no, its not just that the ball became old.

        Also, why should we do histograms across time and players? Sachin slows down when he nears his 100s – relative to his own pace before and after the lull. IMO, we are already talking. No better yardstick to judge how much within himself a player is playing than compare him against his 100% version, dont you think?

      • sidvee says:

        Nitin. Thanks for the comments. You (and all who read this blog) know what a big Dravid fan I am. Now I have watched many Dravid innings closely and found there are moments when he slows down (both in ODIs and Tests) at various points. Nobody has ever done any analysis on Dravid’s strike-rates because he is always seen as a team-man. I am not saying he isn’t. I am just saying there are several batsmen who are never subject to the same scrutiny as SRT. Also given the number of centuries SRT has made, isn’t it natural for you to “remember” some innings where he did indeed slow down? Isn’t it easier to remember those moments rather than the others where he did not? Which is why I am saying a statistical analysis may eventually be necessary. Our cognitive dissonance and biases are too strong on the matter.

  49. Deepak Rao says:

    Sidvee, Why not leave it at Sachin slows down when getting close to a hundred. He almost always has (maybe not before his centuries in the desert storm or not in the famous Chennai test against Pakistan). As far as MK is concerned, his writings are usually are left to centre which means despise anything corporate and wealth. So what is wrong in corporates being around Sachin. He has made his money fair and square and no one should grudge that. And I find this nit picking about matters such as slowing down close to hundred etc confined to only SRT. I was ganged up by the whole set of readers including you for pointing out Dravid’s poor record against SA and Aus (which S Rajesh in his Dravid post retirement statistically analysis called it a small blip). No one talks about VVS’ fielding and running and how that has effected etc etc. So we should take our heroes with a pinch of salt and accept them with the flaws

    • sidvee says:

      I agreed with you about Dravid’s below-average record against high-quality bowling line-ups. However, I did not agree with you about that point coming in the way of Dravid being a ‘great’. Also unlike Dravid v high-quality bowling, Sachin slowing down in the 90s has been debunked according to stats.

      • I am not defending or supporting anyone here, just thinking out loud here…Sometimes I wonder if it’s just us Indians who are obsessed about dissecting and scrutinizing a cricketer’s career to its minutest details to establish a point. How many Aussies scrutinize Lillee’s record in Pak or how many West Indians would argue that Lara had a weakness against India? Not that they are not aware of it, just that they don’t seem to get too anal abt it. I mean, we are not talking marginally great cases here, nor obvious cases of obvious chinks like Vengsarkar’s abroad record (well, I am an Indian too :)).

        We need a million filters. How many runs? what average? record at home? abroad? how many agt the champion team of that time – at home and abroad? record agt their full strength team at home & abroad? There you go, I found the chink. Snap. He was overrated. Weak against the champion team in their backyard, when their record-breaking new ball bowler played, especially at his peak, more so when bowling from the pavilion end…and if it’s his second spell, that’s it, he’s just a dead duck.

        The absolute contempt for achievements at home is quite bizarre too. Yeah, it comes from our somewhat formidable record at home and a hopeless record abroad for a long time. So, in a way, we took what we had for granted and started glorifying anything that we weren’t historically good at. So, I understand the need to celebrate achievements abroad a little more, but can never quite comprehend the contempt for home records? For instance, Dravid scored heavily in Aus only when both Warnie and Mcgrath didn’t play. At the same time, Dravid did score in India when both of them played, but that’s conveniently dismissed as ‘hey…no big deal. It was at home’. Mcgrath’s record agt India in India is not particularly inferior to his record in Aus, and Warnie’s record agt India in Australia is not substantially superior to his in India. So, Dravid wasn’t really lucky not to have to face Warnie in Australia, and he did take on an incisive Mcgrath at home and achieved some success. So to simply say that Dravid wasn’t successful against quality bowling maybe a misleading statement to make. Dravid, being just an example here.

        Also, this level of scrutiny is not necessarily bad. Just that the results are used to make such sweeping statements that it dilutes the merits of such a scrutiny.

        Hang on. Why do we restrict it to just the reputation of bowlers when it comes to quality bowling? Ishant’s spell to Ponting in Perth was as good as it gets, but if someone looks at the scorecard years later, he’ll just dismiss it as Ponting being knocked out by an average bowler (going by his current career record at least). So, what makes us believe that Mcgrath in ’99 was a lot more incisive than Gillespie or Brad Williams in ’04? Why don’t we get into pitch maps, no. of times beaten, no. of chances created or whatever objectively serves as a proxy for quality bowling rather than just go by the reputation of the bowler? Start meesik!

      • sidvee says:

        Congrats! You just made the 100th comment. And the journey from the 90th to the 100th comment was not slow. It was in keeping with the rate at which other comments were posted. I will upload the statistical spreadsheet soon.

        Fine points all. I have always felt the invention of Statsguru was a key moment in the history of cricketing debates and the evaluation of players. Qualitative opinions went out of the window. And quantitative analysis (often anal-ysis) took over.

      • Deepak Rao says:

        I agree Sidvee, thats where it started. Pardon me for digressing. Cornerd wrongly points out that Dravid had a good time against Aus with Mcgrath and Warne playing in India together. He had a horrible time in 2004/5 (everyone except Viru did and VVS and SRT who missed the first 2 tests waited till the last innings to show their masterclass). Dravid was “lucky” to face Warne in 99/00 where he returned a grand total of 93 runs in 6 innings. So both of them are false. Sorry for the diggression. Hope that matter ends here and doesnt deviate from the topic in hand

      • Deepak Rao says:

        I dont know if “Sachin slowing down in the 90s has been debunked according to stats” is just a matter of perception. May be the stats need to be weighted. I think SRT from a young age had a fascination for 100s. In one of his earlier interviews he has stated that, that is what he always sets to do. score a 100. Which is good for the team as well. I remember his first ODI century when he thrashed Mcdermott and Warne on his way to 62 and then took an etenity to get to 100. Or his infamous 194 where he should have gone faster. Or his first century in ODI under Ganguly again in Colombo which prompted Saurav to say team needs are higher than individual. But in the overall stats, it looks good because he has bolted on occasions from 80 to 100 or at least scored on par

  50. sandeep says:

    This has been one of the best, if not the best ,debates i have ever read till now.People have really put thought and effort into their writing and its wonderful to see and read these posts.Unfortunately, the one place where u would expect to see such writing i.e. Cricinfo, has sadly become a hotbed of hate posts and mindless rants which actually make u wonder about the sanity of some of the people writing it.I sincerely wish people would spend less time on SRT and worry about the real problems facing India i.e. poverty, inflation and L.Sivaramakrishnan’s commentary !

  51. Sarath Chandra says:

    Hi sid, thanks for the post. If the intention of the post was to play devil’s advocate, this has been perfect. The quality of some of the comments has been amazing. You can see that they are passionate and knowledgeable. However, IMO, this issue needs a bigger article. Would be great to hear your personal view on this. By issue, i don’t mean the 100th 100 but our ‘treatment'(for the lack of a better word) of srt.

  52. Brinda T says:

    Every comment here (and also the main post) is worth a separate article on top sports websites. Thank you for this.

  53. Sarath Chandra says:

    Regarding the content of the post, i have to dis-agree with you when you say
    “Let me also state this upfront: It was an interesting article. Most journalist and writers who cover cricket haven’t stated many of these points upfront. It helps to have an independent voice like Mukul’s.” Personally the only thing interesting about the article has been the response it generated. I read the comments in cricinfo with ‘morbid’ fascination, thankfully the discussion here has assured me that there are sane voices out there and it is just that they are unable to make themselves heard above the din from the not so sane voices. As you have said it is tough to differentiate the wheat from the chaff. This post has done that to a large extent and thanks for that.

    Mukul Kesavan has joined Sanjay Manjrekar (Elephant in the Room) and Ian Chappel (Mirror Mirror). In their defence Sanjay Manjrekar was referring to a specific cricketing issue, i.e Sachin in run chases over a period of one year and Ian Chappel is …well Ian Chappel.
    To use the picture that he has used and the context in which he used accompanied by his observations is definitely hitting below the belt. Since he insists on comparing srt with dravid, perhaps it would be well to remember dravid’s gillete promo where he shaves for the cameras. Apart from the tone of the article, he has got the facts wrong.India played 11 overseas tests not 8.

    • Deepak Rao says:

      Sarath, India played 11 overseas tests, but SRT did not play in the WI choosing to rest after a tiring IPL. With Ian chappell, if you are refering to his comment in 2006/7, then he had a point. SRT, if you take the Sydney, Multan and Dhaka innings in the 3 year peiod till then, which were all big not outs, averaged 30. IC comes from a culture where there is little star culture and he made his point through that prism

      • Sarath Chandra says:

        Hi Deepak, i concede that the 11 tests is an inconsequential point but i guess i was just pissed that here was a man criticizing someone for not being perfect and starts off the 1st para with an error.

        Regarding Ian Chappel, i agree with you there that it was a decent piece no where as crass as this. There were no wild inferences or snide remarks. It is just that he has been proved wrong(regarding retiring) and i hope mk7 is proved wrong too.

        As for the whole star culture thing, i don’t know what good it has ever done to SRT. He would have been far more respected in any other country. We have placed him on a pedestal and are now trying it to crash srt by sabotaging the pedestal. But the fact is remove the pedestal and he would still stand taller than many a great cricketer.

        My issue with the article was not the criticism but the lack of logic and no attempt whatsoever at it. I have accepted SRT with all the imperfections that he has.

        P.s; I don’t know how fair it would be to look at averages by removing your three highest innings.

    • Fully agree Bro! MK’s article was in bad taste !

  54. kanishka says:

    here’s the thing – sachin, for those of us of a certain generation, has occupied a place in our hearts that no other cricketer comes close to. throughout the 90s, we didn’t have the best team unit and couldn’t travel abroad for nuts – but we had the one man who could put the rest of the world in the shade. supremely successful on the field all over the world – for large parts of his career in an otherwise mediocre team – and a model for behavior off it. never involved in a controversy, never known for rude or in-your-face behavior, respected by friends and foes alike.
    no one else comes close. dravid was – and is – a great gentleman, but as a cricketer, very much a mortal punching above his weight (no disrespect meant, just drawing the comparison). dada was a great captain, but divided opinions like no one before or since – and had his periods as a mediocre batsman. kumble was a great fighter – hard as nails – but again, ineffective abroad for the first decade or so of his career. in the final analysis the success of each of these players came with a caveat. sachin, though, was above all this.
    “others abide our question – thou art alone!”
    why be surprised, then, if sachin is held to a higher standard than others? unfortunately there is no doubt that:
    – sachin slowed down in the later stages of his 100 against bangladesh
    – his statements to the media immediately afterwards were in somewhat poor taste and not reflective of the public sachin persona we have come to know
    of course, other players have been guilty of far worse. of course, sachin hasn’t played selfishly throughout his career and has never before been this in-your-face with the media. of course, the decision of whether or not to drop a player lies with the selectors. and of course, india did not lose the match only because of sachin’s slow scoring.
    but none of that is the point. the point is that for almost the first time, those of us who have defended sachin hotly for years find ourselves having to justify sachin’s blemishes, rather than argue that he has none. for perhaps the first time, we find ourselves a little put-off by his public statements. for the first time, we are forced to admit that the master is, after all, human.
    unrealistic expectations? of course. he is just a cricketer who has done his best. why should be carry the burden of being a beacon of perfection in our imperfect lives?
    but that’s what being a sachin fan does to you.

  55. Sagar says:

    Hopefully Journalists do realize that Sachin is an emotional matter for Indians. Age old wisdom says – One man’s emotions cannot be understood by another man’s logic.

  56. Sarath Chandra says:

    Of course srt slowed down on nearing the 100. But perhaps he was not being selfish? Perhaps it was more a lack of ability than intent. When it is playing at back of your mind, it is just not the same. The feet dont move well, the gaps are not found, you are overly conscious….
    Should he play not thinking about the 100. Ideally Yes. But NOBODY is ideal.

    • Deepak Rao says:

      You are probably right in saying not to take the 3 big nout outs off the list… But There wasnt much besides them for the 3 years…

      • Sarath Chandra says:

        And regarding you hinting that he should not play selectively. Perhaps yes. But it worked like a charm till w.c. Nobody asked questions because he was performing then. Now that he has not been performing all that great, voices have been raised, Fair enough. Maybe that’s why he played asia cup. Perhaps he will play every serise now. But i would like to believe that he did this in the genuine interest of the team and not with any ulterior motive.

      • Deepak Rao says:

        Sarath,
        You mean, anyone who has a blog and a following did not ask questions about picking and choosing… well picking and choosing IPL 2010 over any ODI played in the year till SA tour and then playing the world cup. Perhaps as you say, he did well in the world cup, the team did reasonably well in the period.
        Maybe he played the world cup becasue he does not want to pick and choose. we will know…

  57. *sigh*
    @Deepak
    since you have started it, let me complete the digression cycle.

    I don’t know what piece you guys were referring to. I merely used your point as a cue to make a broader point. One of them is the contempt for home records. Dravid did play Mcgrath and Warnie in 2001 at home and did quite well. And I know a lot of ppl who have dismissed that as ‘at home, no? what big deal’. Ya, I know he had a terrible series in ’04. That’s why I used ‘some success’ and ‘misleading’, instead of something like ‘very successful’ and ‘utterly wrong’ in my earlier comment.

    Also if I say someone is not really lucky not to face a bowler, it doesn’t mean he’s lucky to face him. I meant, he would have been indifferent to the presence of absence of Warnie on the eve of the series. In the ’99 series he was actually struggling against anyone who rolled his arm over. If anything Brett Lee worked him over more than any other bowler (now, pls don’t tell me Warnie got him twice in Adelaide!).

  58. well, SRT has divided opinion so much in the last yr that no other cricketer c’d hv done.Reason..bcz he’s d gr8 SRT! Who made him Gr8? We, the people. Why did we make him so? Bcz evrybody needs a hero, so did we! WE,as cricket watchers, needed sm1 who plays like a hero, whom we can depend upon & who can carry our hopes,make runs & win the match as well..all at the same time!Wen v saw SRT, he looked lyk sm1 who can do this juggling act successfully..so v gave him a god-like status..evrybody was happy..the media, the fans, the advertisers etc etc..No sportperson in the world has been the subject of such a gigantic load of expectations, no one..This is the same SRT, who has seen so many matches set up by him 4 win 2 be lost by his fellow team-mates,the same SRT who has been given wrongly out on numerous ocassions but he left the pitch without making any fuss.Its d same SRT who has been subjected 2 a ridiculous amount of pressure regarding this 100th 100..& yet wen he lets his emotions flow a bit,people ridicule him,Mostly those mediocre people who have,& will, never achieve anything of substance in life! I admit that it was painful 4 me 2 watch sachin labour 2 his 100th 100.But u know what, it was more painful 2 watch indian bowlers dishing out freebie fulltosses after fulltosses 2 BD batsmen! & voila, nobody blames them cz indian bowling has alwyz been pathetic..If that’s d case.then y do people watch the match during indian bowling! are we that much double-standard that we can accept indian bowlers bowling crap time & time again, but v cant allow sachin 2 score a slow hundred bcz that doesn’t go with his GOD-ly status which has been bestowed upon him by US???
    The only point I want 2 make in the end is that till date if a match is going on & india is batting, Almost all indians,sachin-lovers or bashers both, will ask the same question: Kya sachin batting kr rha hai?
    I Rest my case…

  59. All those who are blaming SRT for slowing down while enroute to his 100th hundred must, for once visualise themselves in SRT’s shoes. Being Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar ain’t that easy after all. One can’t deny the fact that, had Sachin missed out on that elusive ton of his against Bangladesh, the media people would have again questioned his place in the side and how his inability to get the hundred is doing the team more harm than good. SRT has become a national obsession. Tendulkar has both; vision and skill, talent and hunger. And as long as he thinks that he can contribute to team’s cause by scoring runs, we are no one to question his place in the side. And Yes, I also believe that the man has still lots to offer to the game. Enjoy the genius as long as he is batting in the middle because one day in the future, you will wake up and see that there is no SRT in the Indian side sporting his Indian jersey with pride and honour and that will surely be a very weird and deeply disappointing moment!

  60. Vistasp Hodiwala says:

    My reason to see sense in Mukul’s piece was no in SRT’s slowing down alone. Sachin Tendulkar, most definitely, slowed down, in quest of his 100th ton. There are no two ways to say this. The millions who watched that match against Bangladesh know what exactly was going on. One doesn’t need ‘analysis’, anecdotal evidence or theories to explain what was evident in plain sight. One can be generous and put it down to pressure, ambition, whatever; that’s fine by me; but there is no reason ‘to overlook’ this incident and bring in piles of comparative analysis as justification for this act.

    But there are other reasons why that piece makes so much sense to me in the larger scheme of things. If his ‘act’ was only limited to this one solitary incident you can be sure that nobody would be even discussing this and that’s what I meant when I said ‘joining the dots’ in my earlier comment. However, add to this, his petulance during the 194 Multan declaration, his slow plod towards the last quarter of the innings at Sydney for 241 when the need of the hour was to get quick runs and declare, his refusal to open the innings or ever change his batting order in a team sport, irrespective of the state of the game, and I am not sure if the picture of the role model is all quite there. Every time, such aspects have been brought up, (just as Mukul dared to write about his Bangladesh innings), the refusal to look the other way is palpable; but for die-hard SRT fans (like I was, not many moons ago), his legacy keeps taking a beating once one has discerned the unmistakable pattern in a personality.

    • sidvee says:

      Yes, he did slow down. But if you are going to include it as part of your ‘unmistakable pattern in a personality’ you need to justify it with some analysis, right? You can’t slot something into a trend and then say the evidence is in ‘plain sight’. I am totally open to accepting arguments about SRT. I am the last person closed in this regard. I agree with you re SRT being a batsman not wanting to change his batting position. But again, I cannot link that with his alleged selfishness when he approaches a hundred. I found his reaction at Multan petulant but I cannot connect that with the reason he batted slowly in Bangladesh (meanwhile – if you haven’t read it – check out the large chapter about this declaration in Rahul Bhattacharya’s Pundits from Pakistan. In my view, the most balanced analysis of the whole issue).

      So the reason I have a problem with your argument is because once you decide to have a slot called ‘unmistakable pattern in a personality’ then you can fit everything into that according to anecdotal evidence. It still doesn’t mean it is right.

      • Deepak Rao says:

        Sidvee,
        Maybe it is a perception again…But it does seem that SRT slows down when India is batting first more times than when india bats second. Maybe when batting second with a target in sight, he cant be thinking about personal goals. For eg: The hundred in Pakistan in the second ODI in Rawalpindi in 2004, he did not slow down, neither with any of the desert storm centuries or in the 97 against Pak in the 2003 world cup. I definetly dont think it is selfishness, but he does like hundreds and many of them. I dare stick my neck out and say his fascination for hundreds has helped the team more times than not

      • Deepak Rao says:

        To expand on this.. I think he is also fascinated with his averages. How would you explain him not protecting Unandakat in the Centurian test. For eg: Hussey would have tried a few shots and taken the lead to a 100. Okay we lost and we would probably still loose with the extra 100 on the board… But there was no attempt in sheilding the rabbit nor was there any move on by the main batsman. We dont know what was in his mind, but I thought it was very surprising that he did not attempt a 100 run lead. You could also blame Saurav in 2006 for not sheilding VRV in the wanderers test, but VRV had some fun and made 30 odd and helped the score..

      • sidvee says:

        Yes. I agree with all this. But was the Centurion incident a freak or part of a larger trend of SRT not protecting tailenders? Unless we nail that, we cannot throw out terms like ‘selfish’. These are big words after all.

      • dyogesh4u says:

        On Tendulkar & batting position, he did try out no.4 in ODIs twice (pre-2003 WC & 2007-WC) and both were eventually jettisoned by the team as they weren’t good experiments for neither the team nor the man. Even VVS gave up opening saying that he is better suited to a different position. I do not find it selfish when a batsman feels that he can contribute better to the team if he bats at a different position than what the captain / team management thinks. If a batsman thinks that he is going to under-perform in a certain role, is it too unreasonable for him to say so clearly ?

        On slowing down for 100s, i remember his stumping to Mark Waugh in 1996 WC when we wanted to get to 100 quickly and India lost the match. The next day, what i heard and read was that he should have slowed down to his 100 instead of trying to speed up & hence getting out. And when he did slow down to 100 a few times, the reaction was that he should have gone faster.

        I agree with Deepak Rao that Tendulkar does certainly love making 100s but then does that make him a lesser batsman ? Not. As long as we judge playes by 100s, averages et al, i don’t think one can blame them for being fascinated by 100s.

      • Dravid perceptibly slowed down when a 100 was in sight, and then switched back on after crossing the milestone? When @Sidvee?

      • sidvee says:

        Why again hundred? Of course I haven’t done any statistical analysis re Dravid but here’s my point: Dravid has slowed down at several stages of his innings. And picked up at other stages. Full stop. Sachin has done the same – and @persiesque’s brute force analysis shows that slowing down before a hundred is not a trend but a something we remember only when the slowdown happens. So why make him out to be a repeat offender? And why (which is what I’ve been harping on) throw out damning words like ‘selfish’?

        Also think about this: would you rather have a batsman score at a strike-rate of 75 throughout his innings or a batsman who scores at 85 and then slows down to 75 at some stages?

      • Deepak Rao says:

        You are not making a distinction, Sidvee. I agree everyone goes through different pace in their innings… But SRT slower pace is invariably closer to milestones. is that selfishness? no.. I think he puts the team’s cause first subconsciously as we have seen in run chases where he does not slow down.. but when that is not in sight, his fascination for his own numbers takes over

      • Deepak Rao says:

        @nitin, I agree with you.. He hasnt slowed down… He did not need to slow down..(he was already slow)… Sorry Nitin, I could not resist from commenting on this…

  61. Deepak Rao says:

    I would like to think it is more “Fascination” rather than “Selfish”. I dont think he is being selfish consciously … but he does like his numbers unlike say a Viru. Has that made Viru a better batsman than Sachin… NO. Has that turned out that Viru has won more matches than Sachin… NO
    Do we see Viru more committed on the field than Sachin… NO. Is Viru a fitter cricketer than Sachin even taking the age difference… NO
    Lets take Viru out…
    Has any other Indian batsman (important as Kumble I think has won more matches) else made more winning contributions ( I know Dravid bhakths will bring out some numbers… But Sidvee you know me well enough on that) NO…
    has any other batsman dominated top class bowlers fairly consistently from Malcom Marshall (ok .. I remember one match in 91 in Adelade) to Steyn.. NO
    Has any other Indian batsman got more 4th innings centuries than Sachin … NO (not entirely sure)

    • sandeep ajila says:

      I think, this giving tailenders the strike started with Steve waugh who had a great deal of success with this strategy. He thought this gave the tailenders a great deal of confidence and helped the team total. Subsequently,even other teams started following this strategy.Srt did this even in the 2006 sydney test when he gave RP SINGH most of the strike and they had a partnership of 25 odd of which RP scored 16. SRT later said that with the fields so spread out for the main batsman, it made greater sense to take the single and give the strike to the tailenders so that with the field brought in for the tailender, he could score better.Even V.V.S and dravid have done this with varying degrees of success, Dravid recently in the england series. I think , all this is decided in the team meetings,and r not necessarily on the spot decisions. I mean , at this stage of his career, after having played so many matches, how much is 1 not out going to affect SRT’S average? 0.05? come on.In fact if he got in a few big hits , his average would go up more. I think, we over analyze sachin too much.This is a guy who, in the 99 world cup came back to play, a few days after his dad died, cuz his country needed him. Even in the 2003 world cup final, he could have made a 65 ball 50 and then gone for the big shots, thus absolving himself of all the blame if India lost.But he knew that for India to have any chance of winning, he had to attack Mcgrath from the 1st over itself and he tried it and of course failed.But to try it knowing, that if he failed, the whole blame would be on him,takes guts and i respect him for that. Sure, he has his faults and could have perhaps handled Multan a bit better,but then he IS human.And contrary to popular perception, he didnt slow down during the final part of his Multan innings.He scored his last 38 runs of 39 balls.Yuvraj singh played about 60 balls in tht partnership and hence scored more in that partnership and hence this perception abt SRT slowing down. And one last point abt this God business.God does not fulfil our every wish.If i pray to GOD for a BMW, he is not going to deliver it for me.Then why do we expect SRT to deliver every time?

      • Deepak Rao says:

        Sandeep, I agree about tailenders taking equal amount of strike and all that.. But not when you are staring at an immediate result. It is ok I suppose in the first innings of a test match as you are trying to get as much as you can..It probably helped SRT’s average by a wee bit overall, but it did help him in getting his averages against SA more than a wee bit and that magnificent hundred in the cape town test has made him show great numbers against SA. I am not saying this is what he had in mind because I dont know.. But just making case for his fascination for numbers.

      • Deepak Rao says:

        Reading it again and about the 65 ball 50 in the world cup final.. someone else came close.. He made a 57 ball 47 and he wasnt called selfish..and he was Rahul Dravid… I know I know Dravid bhakths are going to say he was sheet anchoring, rotating strike with Viru blah blah blah…

      • sandeep ajila says:

        I totally agree with Sid, about bandying about terms like selfish so freely and without actual proof. I mean, if we r talking selfish, how abt the great Sehwag who just doesnt seem to care about the position his team is in, just wildly swinging his bat at everything (except of course at Gambhir)?How about his penchant for trying to get to his hundred with a six? What is the justification for taking such a risk , especially in tests? Other than to show that ‘look at me, i am Viru, the coolest guy around who gets to a century with a six, unlike other mortals around’. Dravid has a strike rate of 71 in one dayers and he has scored nearly 10000 runs, does that not mean the team run rate got slowed down when he was getting these runs ? The excuse that he was not as naturally talented ,hence could not score fast is just that, an excuse. He should have taken more risks then to make up for it.Look, i admire Dravid. After SRT, he is the one guy i respect the most. But this recent trend of pushing him up, just to bring SRT down is just not done and not fair to either of the great players.

      • Deepak Rao says:

        As I said Move it to the other thread…

      • Vistasp Hodiwala says:

        As you said? When? Whatever.

      • sandeep ajila says:

        The point ,i think, Deepak is trying to make is that, Dravid had a great technique , no doubt, but he had to wait for the bad deliveries to come so that he could score off them. And with the great bowling attacks ( Aus with McGrath/Warne and SA) , sometimes the bad deliveries just didnt come and dravid used to get stuck for long periods. In the process , sometimes creating pressure on the other batsman to score.So in some ways, what was Dravid’s greatest strength would also sometimes become his biggest weakness. He never dominated Warne or McGrath or even Akram. So while he was no doubt one of our greatest batsman, i find it very difficult to call him our best because he didnt have the ability to dominate attacks , like SRT’S knocks in south africa in cape town and the wanderers. Ironically, i remember, in those days, critics said that SRT’s problem was that he scored a little too fast in some tests and hence gave the opposition the chance to come back as there was more time available.So for me Sachin will always be no 1 and dravid 2nd. All these sachin die hard fans are not really fans of his for his statistics.They r really for the way he batted in the 90’s and some times in the 2000’s, when he took on the best and dominated them. You,obviously dont feel that way and i respect that. Peace.

      • Deepak Rao says:

        There was a David Shepherd interview and it was just after the Bangalore test which he officiated against Australia in 1998 which we lost. He said in the lines of SRT was the best he had seen and Australia won that test because he scored too quickly

  62. I think, as a team, we changed our approach to protecting tailenders sometime in the mid noughties – am just talking out of memory here. It’s possibly not a coincidence that it’s the period when every team started adopting the in-out fields, especially to the Indian top order. There have been enough occasions where batsmen have farmed the strike without being able to score much. Not just Sachin, even Lax does it all the time, Dada did and so did Dravid…. any memory on Sehwag (even if he scores a double, he gets out before the tail comes in anyway!)? In fact the same tactic worked wonderfully in Sydney ’08…and that was the time when Sach did open up a bit abt this tactic that the team had clearly planned for.

    Also, this approaching a hundred from batting first vs batting second perspective is by and large true for all batsmen, or so is my gut feel at least. It would be interesting to see an analysis though. Of all batsmen with some min. number of hundreds – scoring pattern when batting first vs scoring pattern when batting second. of course this won’t be conclusive as a lot of the targets could have been comfortable chases too….but will give some idea.

    • Deepak Rao says:

      I agree with you that it happens more often with the indian team since the mid noughties. But the sydney example was the first innings and there was no imediate staring at defeat. You are right about Lax doing it all the time and Saurav too. But the difference is that Sachin has the ability to dominate and play the big shots that VVS cant or doesnt

  63. dyogesh4u says:

    @Cornerd, Sort of what i wanted to write as well.

    • Deepak Rao says:

      That is true.. But we are not saying that he should have played a cover drive instead of a on drive.. Gee.. I am adding to the case

  64. Bheem says:

    What bothers me is reputed Media shops like ESPNCricinfo giving free airtime to bonafide Trolls like Mukul Kesavan. If they take his opinion so seriously maybe they should start by removing the option on Statsguru where we can get Test+ODI+T20I stats combined ? I mean afterall Shri Kesavan has proclaimed that such additions as meaningless. So upset was he about the concept of Intl 100s that he made it a point to re-iterate it again in the next article.

    And since when did the addidas shirt worn by Tendlkar began counting as a “Shiny” one ? Not that it would matter in anyway to the troll but just wanted to update my fashion sense.

  65. Vistasp Hodiwala says:

    @ Amit: 1. There is only one way to understand who fits into the team’s long term plans and that is by having a bunch of youngsters play at regular intervals and backing them to the hilt. Some will fall by the wayside and a couple of others will make the cut. So it’s not the young guns who need to introspect; it’s the selectors who need to be acutely aware that our middle order isn’t what it used to be and reinforcements can only happen when new players are given a real chance time after time before the alarm bells start screeching in our ears.
    2. On ‘Thick skinned’, yes you would have to be if you have to celebrate when India loses. That was the only point. To muddle it up with the comment on ‘retarded critics’ only throws light on the hostility of your opinion and nothing much.
    3. The point was not about India’s batsmen alone.Though a certain Ravi Shastri does come to mind. Slow scoring in a pressure cooker situation is routinely put to the sword by followers of the game everywhere (as it should be). Dravid has been guilty of this in ODIs a fair amount of time. In his case, it used to be called ‘going inside his shell’ and i didn’t see that approach win too many fans for him either. In fact in a very recent instance, Ashwin has been guilty of doing the same and the brickbats that followed on social media sites were seen to be believed, and rightly so. In this case, from 80 to 100 in this case was a case of ‘obvious’ slow scoring. So you guys want to excuse him for being SRT alone; fine by me.
    4. This was never an argument on Sachin Vs Dravid in ODIs. There cannot be one. But obviously you are suspecting me to be a Dravid fan and thinking that illuminating bit of info should floor me completely. You win, man!
    5. Why should it be unsportsmanlike to call a jelly bean attack by its real name? We fare no better and yet, we won the World Cup. How does that prove anything? I am not taking anything away from BD’s win; I for one was happy to see them take the Cup but I am sure you won’t find too many fans of their bowling line-up even back there. But if it hurts your feelings, I shall withdraw that statement.
    6. You have a point here. I should have prefaced it by saying losing the game cost us ‘a chance’ to have a shot at the trophy. Valid objection and point taken.

    Thank You for pointing out the difference between performance analysis and character assassination. I don’t think I did the latter in any of my posts but prickliness of this kind is another matter altogether.

    • Amit says:

      Glad you picked on a few things!
      The hostility wasn’t necessarily directed at you, but towards what I see to be a generic trend which is essentially around pulling a great sporting icon down and attribute reasons to his on field behaviour as part of a trend and reflective of the mans character. Analysis of the nature “Oh he has done it earlier or this wasn’t the first time” comes across that way.
      I thinkSidVee picked it up earlier though he was decidedly moderate in his language than me. Whether or not intended, I think most critics have come across as painting sachin’s image as that of a selfish bas###rd who always puts his interest above team, which I think is absolutely crazy. That I classify as character assassination.

      I like RD as much as I like SRT, so the idea wasn’t a comparison between the 2, but just stating that even today, if I had to choose between SRT and any other player to bat 50 overs, I will pick SRT. If he goes slow occasionally, during the course of an innings, he is still able to make up for it. You only have to compare the double tons by sehwag and sachin to know that the strike rate is not a problem when he bats that long. He slowed down in mirpur, but was that only becoz of the ton? It cud easily have been stamina, nerves or anything else (not making excuses here, coz I don’t know for sure), point being ppl are stating that it was the 100 (attribution again), without really knowing what he was going thru at that point. I doubt if anyone but him is certain. Whether its what they choose to accept is another matter.
      I still maintain, at half time, the belief wudve bn we’ve got enuf. It certainly looked like that till Rahim started to whack a few towards the close. The pressure cooker you mention wasn’t the case when India finished their innings.

      Someone also mentioned about fascination with hundreds and averages and I cringed. Top order batsmen are expected to score runs and make tons. Usually there is a direct correlation between the top order performing and the team winning.
      Kohli has now shown he can make a big score, but others that hv bn tried and that includes yuvi, Raina, sharma, jadeja – you name it, have not bn able to prove themselves to that level yet. You don’t jettison the top order batsman for a middle order problem. In Australia, dhoni kept saying that rohit sharma was being accommodated and the seniors needed to be rotated but the non performer was Raina in the middle order, who after 6-7 years in the team has about the same runs as kohli and consistently flatters to deceive.

      As for the “jellybean”, in sub continent, they have a better attack than some of the other test nations. Shakib, razaaq hv bn miserly and bn ranked well consistently. The attack is spin dominated and it’s the pace attack which is popgun, and we probably share similar thoughts on them.

      Re shastri and ashwin, you’ve definitely got me! I had forgotten Shastri go slows in 87, though for RD, I would put it down to ability. For a man as good as him, scoring fast didn’t come naturally and while it looks bad on TV, I think it was just his usual game.

      And you are right about selectors needing to plan, but I can’t understand why one chooses to blame sachin for it. Sachin will go eventually. Whether pushed or by himself, and I am certain he won’t do a kapil. But right now, he is contributing and I dont see how people can dispute that.
      Mukul seems to believe SRT shd go now, I say not yet.

      • Vistasp Hodiwala says:

        There is no disagreement with most of what you say except for ‘slowing down’ so let’s just leave it at what make of it. I don’t think SRT should go either; but that’s only for Tests, not ODIs.

  66. C.Nagendran says:

    Nage from Colombo
    Its fascinating reading some of the comments .But I find an important aspect of how to play cricket
    with grace devoid of angst is not mentioned in most of the assessment. Our SL greats like Sanga, Mahela , your Dravid ,Laxman and quite a few world wide players respect the umpires decision
    without any tantrum.But have you all observed in recent matches especially when slip catches are dropped the ball is picked up and dashed to the ground in anger for their mistake.(you touch the ground-mother earth as you enter the field -worship ?).Again the same lot including Sanga when they get out for a bad shot they kick the pitch in front (plough the field) and walk out slamming their pads with the bat .What does this indicate -bad breeding. But what does the Poet’s son do – drop a catch ,a sheepish grin or a word with Dhoni. A bad shot and dismissal ,the bat is tucked under his armpit and looks up and walks off, pin drop silence inside the stadium.. Only recently I observed that a full toss directed just above his waist level – which was an indipper in the end was mistimed and was caught by Mahela.He stood his grounds but was given out.Annoyance was visible as he walked off ,but he too is human . Sachin is NO GOD ;CRICKET MAY BE YOUR RELIGION but he is CRICKET’S ONE AND ONLY SUPERSTAR. . .

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  68. Aalok says:

    Boy, for two days I tried to go through all the comments not wanting to repeat a comment from someone else. But I have failed so apologies if this has been discussed. I have extracted this from a Cricinfo match report after Kumble bagged his ten-for against Pakistan.
    “Despite Pakistan being 7 down, Azhar was adopting an ultra cautious approach with Srinath bowling without a slip. Kumble struck another double blow when he had Mushtaq gloving to Dravid at gully off a ball that bounced wickedly and then getting Saqlain LBW first ball by firing in a quicker one. Srinath bowled the next over wide of the stumps patently in order to help Kumble get his tenth wicket and two of his balls were called wide by Bucknor.”
    Sure, the match situation was different and one could argue that the team itself wanted to manufacture a landmark for their excellent team-mate, but does it still not go against the essence of it being a team sport?
    My opinion is Sachin gets judged unfairly in certain situations. Would the critics have reacted to the 100th 100 the same way if India had won? If the answer is yes, then I feel we should judge Kumble and every Indian player involved with the match with the same yardstick. And this is not the only instance. Dravid’s hundreds in England ’11 are face-saving, rear-guard actions, while Sachin only scores hundreds in losing causes. What Dravid did against England in one series, Sachin did that for nearly the whole of 90’s in Tests AND ODI’s. Kohli’s strike-rate between 85 to 100 runs while CHASING in a MUST-WIN game against Pakistan is similar to Sachin’s 87 to 100 runs against Bangladesh but surely VK was not thinking of a milestone/ landmark and was purely focused on the team’s cause because eventually the team won!
    I am not criticising the players, just the yardsticks used to measure different players.

  69. What MK wrote on cricinfo stems from the fact that he’s not a big fan of Sachin. And his look at the stats was just lame. He forgot 75% of times when Sachin made a ton, India didn’t lose the game. Sachin has scored against all countries at all conditions . So MK could have blamed ICC if he had to blame someone rather than blaming Sachin for scoring his 100’th 100 against Bangladesh though Bangladesh is no longer a weak side and definitely not when they are playing in their own soil. And most importantly the media and not Sachin made it the most awaited cricket landmark. Dravid left cricket because he thought he couldn’t have contributed much to the 5-day game and he was already out of the ODI’s. So it’s only illogical to think that Sachin should have followed Dravid’s footsteps. It is really shocking to hear somebody criticising Sachin after his 23 years of service to the nation saying he doesn’t play for the country. There will always be some pricks like MK blaming Sachin in their article beacuse they don’t have any better topic to write on. And save the fact his association with some bizz boys. Don’t you see that the whole game of cricket has gone commercial? Only an article on Sachin and Sachin only can have those 452 comments on Cricinfo and 310 comments on Yahoo and counting. So my little advice to MK and other haters will be to save some words because your shitty article blaming Sachin doesn’t make any sense.

  70. Sarkar says:

    I read this today and I had to share it here – http://csentroid.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/sachin-tendulkar/

  71. Janakiraman V says:

    Nice article. First of all, personal hundreds are surely important in cricket. A batsman world over is judged by his ability to convert his starts to 100s. He may even be dropped if he consistently scores 40 in every match in spite of the team winning each and every such match. That’s precisely why, this statistic of 100s and 50s were introduced well before 1989. Every single batsman raises his bat to a 100. I am stating this explicitly because a game of football is probably more team oriented than cricket. The guy making the assist is probably equally important as the guy who scores. Yes, the team is important and should win. But cricket is the art of bowling vs batting. Cricket is fundamentally a one on one game. Period.
    Sachin has his own style of pacing an inning. The opposition beings the field in to any batsman getting close to a hundred. Sachin prefers to play out that period carefully and launch after that. He has always played like that. He has played through an era of ODI cricket where you accelerate in the first 15 overs, play normally till about 35-40 overs and then launch an attack again. His hundred always comes before the 40 over. What has changed now is that the batting power play has come in and people expect an acceleration there too. But more often than not, the batting power play has turned against the batting team in trying to accelerate. This was particularly true in the WC. (Game against SA 260/1 in 40 overs and 296 all out). Unless you bowl full tosses like India did against Bang in Mirpur. I would be really interested in knowing what the average scoring rate has been in the batting power play world over. Also what sort of analysis is it to say that a period of 5 overs lost the game for us. Has no batsman ever got stuck for 5 overs in the past? Haven’t teams won those games. As someone pointed out already, Kholi, in supreme form, scored at a SR of 80 and Sachin at 77 in that game in those five overs. India scored at 7 an over in the batting power play against Bang. Surprisingly they scored at around the same rate against Pak chasing 350 in the BPP. The point is simple. YOu are so anxious when Sachin is batting that you register every dot ball while you don’t for other batsmen. Please be uniform when you make these claims.

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks Janakiraman. Completely agree with all your points. Interesting bit about the Powerplays. I hadn’t mentioned that. I will check if anyone has done any analysis on that front.

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