Tendulkar and the retirement question

Discussing Sachin Tendulkar has never been easy. He lends himself to arguments. Most of these arguments are like giant fractals – each made up of smaller, similar sounding mini-arguments. To debate Tendulkar is to be caught in a whirlpool and bombarded with streams of thought from tangential directions.

So I have tried to rip the present Tendulkar debate (about his poor series against New Zealand and calls for retirement) threadbare. I have singled out each part of the argument and presented my view. As always, you are welcome to disagree and extend the debate further.

The consistently-bowled-translates-to-you’re-finished reasoning

Losing your stumps must be the most humbling way to get out. I doubt if this debate would have been so heated if Tendulkar was caught behind or lbw in Hyderabad and Bangalore. But he was bowled three times – not playing-on bowled but clean bowled. Neck-and-crop, as they say. Not only has Tendulkar been bowled, he has been bowled by middling bowlers like Boult, Bracewell and Southee.

This has led to a series of comments about Tendulkar’s slowing reflexes and  diminishing eyesight. Gavaskar analyzed his technique on air. Manjrekar has said his bit. There have also been comparisons with Dravid (who was consistently bowled in Australia) and Viswanath (who was bowled three times in his final series in Pakistan, most famously off that astonishing in-cutter from Imran in Karachi).

My take: Tendulkar has been bowled 51 times in his Test career. He has had phases when the incoming delivery has troubled him. In 1996 (when he was in fine form) he was bowled in 5 out of 15 innings and mostly to balls that darted in. In 2002 (another good year) he was bowled 8 times. He has faced a similar problem in ODIs over the years.

Bowlers of varying quality have exploited this weakness. He has been bowled by McGrath and Donald. He has also been bowled by Adam Dale, Adam Sanford and Franklyn Rose. So to say his mode of dismissal shows that his powers have waned would be to ignore his history with the incoming ball.

The How-dare-you-talk-about-Tendulkar’s-technique pooh-pooh

If you were to believe some people, nobody can criticize Tendulkar’s technique. “Tendulkar gets bowled 3 times in a row. and now, we have people whove never held a bat arguing if he should retire!!” [sic] tweeted Rajdeep Sardesai, the editor in chief of IBN Network. On the other hand you have comments on websites that seem to confidently analyze exactly why Tendulkar has been getting out: “In the second innings, tendulkar had no gap between bat and pad. it was just that bat was going to midwicket and the ball slid by the bat as there was no surface area to block it!”

My take: Yes nobody has scored as many runs as Tendulkar. Yes nobody has played as many games as him. But that doesn’t mean he is above criticism. One does not have to be a great player to be a good reader of technique. Ramakant Achrekar’s first-class career was limited to one match – yet it’s likely that he can tell you exactly what Tendulkar is doing wrong. Aakash Chopra has made some valid points. And so have many others who haven’t had an extended international career. I am totally OK with anyone debating his technique. He obviously knows who to listen to and who to ignore.

The Sehwag-Gambhir-Raina reminder

Everytime someone talks about Tendulkar’s poor scores, there are those who point to Sehwag’s and Gambhir’s lean patch. If you point fingers at Tendulkar, they assert, then why not also point one at Sehwag and another at Gambhir? And what about Raina? Doesn’t he also deserve scrutiny?

My take: I agree that every batsman must be held accountable. I also think players like Sehwag and Gambhir are getting away lightly because the attention is primarily on Tendulkar (yes, yes: I too am guilty for writing a whole post on SRT and mentioning Sehwag, Gambhir and Raina in a mere footnote).

But I also understand the reason for Tendulkar being the focus. He is 39. All his contemporaries have retired. And he is Tendulkar for God’s sake! When has he not been the focus of any debate?

The India’s-batting-is-too-fragile-to-lose-Tendulkar-at-this-stage theory

Manjrekar wrote about this in his column. “With Laxman and Rahul Dravid gone, Tendulkar, with all his vulnerabilities as a 40-year-old, will still provide value to this Indian batting line-up when it goes to South Africa in November 2013,” he said.

Suresh Menon echoed these thoughts in his piece (though he didn’t go as far as November 2013): “Despite the 2-0 win against New Zealand, India’s batting – Virat Kohli apart – does not inspire confidence. It would be the height of irresponsibility by the selectors to let Tendulkar go in the same season as Dravid and Laxman.”

My take: I understand this sentiment but don’t agree. India lost eight Tests in a row with Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar in the playing XI. Most of these matches weren’t even close. I don’t think a middle order that reads Pujara, Kohli, Badrinath and Raina is going to do any worse. Sure they may struggle abroad (especially in South Africa) but I don’t think we can shield these players for much longer. These are the batsmen expected to carry the batting for the next five to ten years and the earlier they are thrown at the deep end, the better. India already missed a chance to test Rohit Sharma in Australia and may pay a heavy price if a young middle order is forever treated like babies who are not ready for hard challenges.

Also if we’re going to be afraid to blood a young middle order in South Africa in 2013, we’re never going to blood them. Kohli was given a chance in Australia and he responded. Pujara has comeback well (sure it was only New Zealand but I think we all agree that he is a long-term prospect). So why are we still quivering about giving a few other players a chance? Why this desperate desire to cling on to Tendulkar for a series that’s more than a year away?

The Tendulkar-knows-best-when-to-retire assertion

This is a line of argument that many former cricketers espouse. Ganguly said so recently. Shastri has said it earlier. Apparently a player as great as Tendulkar will know exactly when to end his career.

My take: Several great players have botched their exits. Miandad muffed it. Kapil too. Many others finished when people said, ‘Why not?’ rather than ‘Why?’ In fact, I would think the reverse is true – the great players love the game so much that they would find it hard to move on.

However, I don’t think this is even relevant. My bigger concern is whether the selectors (paid selectors, no less) have spoken to Tendulkar about their plans for the transition. It is obviously not going to be easy (and I know there will be people who say it is ‘unreasonable to expect’ the selectors to take a call on a player as big as SRT) but let’s not forget that everyone knew that this was one of their (and Fletcher’s and Dhoni’s) biggest challenges when they took over. Reports indicate that Dravid took his own decision (and made it easier for the selectors). Some pieces reported that the selectors did nudge Laxman (and credit to them if they did). But overall I think they’ve struggled to manage the transition.

The why-is-Tendulkar-tolerating-being-reduced-to-a-struggling-mortal conundrum

This line of thought that’s being doing the rounds in several columns and comments. ‘Tendulkar has been reduced to being bowled by ordinary bowlers. Shouldn’t a player of his stature end his career when he is on top rather than when he is struggling?’ A related argument runs – ‘Tendulkar has achieved all there is to achieve on a cricket field. What is the point of him continuing to play?’ And a related point runs – ‘Tendulkar is tarnishing his legacy by playing on and getting out for low scores against middling bowlers’.

My take: One of the joys of watching sport is to see a great player battle age and slowing reflexes. There is something to be said about a great batsman struggling to tackle lesser bowlers, trying to rediscover the magical touch that made him great in the first place. Great players are remembered not only because they are consistently brilliant but also because they find a way to battle when in the trenches. I am actually enjoying watching this Tendulkar phase and, in my view, the string of poor scores doesn’t diminish his greatness. (Hat-tip to @suhrith for this thought)

Also, athletes don’t just stop playing because they have achieved ‘everything there is to achieve’. Many of them just like to walk into the cricket field and play. And I put Tendulkar in this category (especially because he is one of those rare sportsmen who have played international cricket for nearly double the number of years than he has not).

Also, I find this emphasis on endings slightly strange. Tendulkar’s legacy is hardly built on what he achieves in the last part of his career. Was Gilchrist defined by the fact that he had no hundred in his final year of his Test career? Is Graham Gooch remembered for his string of 20s and 30s that he managed in his final few series?

And unlike Kapil, Tendulkar is not staying primarily to break a record. His place in our collective memories is secure. So I don’t buy this argument about him ‘tarnishing his legacy’ by struggling along.

***

Overall take: As great as he is, Tendulkar may not necessarily know the best time to retire. He has, in my view, botched a great chance to retire at a perfect time in ODIs (on April 2, 2011). Not that it’s going to define his one-day career but he may not get a better chance to say goodbye in that format.

However I don’t think he is done as a Test batsman. I am no technical expert but I don’t think these dismissals against New Zealand are a sign of the end. I believe his experience will help in the home series against England.

At the same time I don’t think we need to give him a buffer until November 2013. That is too much leeway even for a batsman as great as him.

And none of this should take away from the fact that a huge chunk of the responsibility lies with the paid selectors (as well as Dhoni and Fletcher). It is upto them to take a hard call. It is upto them to start placing more faith in India’s young batsmen. It is upto them to build a team to defend the ODI World Cup and regain the No.1 Test ranking. It’s finally upto them.

***

Related: Two views on Tendulkar,  Legacy: Whose father what goes?

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81 Responses to Tendulkar and the retirement question

  1. Mohan says:

    Excellent points. Brilliant conclusion: It is “finally upto them”. He will — and must — continue to play till he is selected. The selectors are there to do a job. They are currently sitting on their fingers and doing nothing more than collecting ring marks on their backsides. Time for them to earn their corn.

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks. I was happy when they decided to make the selector’s job a paid one. But now I am wondering if there is any difference at all. The lack of accountability is quite galling.

  2. Homer says:

    My take – SRT hasnt played a shot in anger for nearly 3 months, since the end of the IPL. And the August tests are the earliest start to our domestic season in my living memory. How much of SRT’s “struggles” are a factor of early season rust and how much import can be placed on what the punditry says?

    For mine, it is fairly simple. England comes in in November. In between, we have the Challengers, the Irani, the Duleep and a couple of rounds of Ranji, not to forget the CLT20 ( to be played in South Africa).

    All things being equal, SRT should get enough match time, both at home and overseas, for an objective assessment to be made of whether age has finally caught up with him.

    If age is truly a factor, we still have enough cricket in the bag to pick the player to replace him (with or without another change in the batting order( Sehwag at 4, anyone)). Either ways, the kid coming in will get atleast 5 home tests for him to get into the groove.

    And no, I dont believe this team will struggle in South Africa. Even at their worst, we wont see a Durban 1996. And no, these kids wont struggle against bounce or pace either,their biggest challenge will come from the unrealistic expectations premised on the people they are replacing and the unnecessary comparisons that will necessarily follow.

    Cheers,

    PS: We tend to forget that these kids are a lot more cricket savvy than their previous generations. And they have played in pretty much all conditions for them not to be blindsided.

    A little more trust and a faith will go a long way. Now, for that cordon!

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks for the comment, Homer. I agree that early-season rustiness could surely be a reason. I am surprised with his lack of match practice (especially given how much time he does have on his hands). And yes, we’ve seen Durban ’96 and Barbados ’97. So a young team can surely not do worse. Also agree re the current gen being far more savvy – and I think the IPL plays its part here by exposing them to big crowds and high pressure at the domestic scene.

  3. Sagar Sriramagiri says:

    Surprised you didnt draw parallels to another old legend who people were hell bent on seeing retire – Roger Federer:-)

  4. Konark Goel says:

    More or less agree with your views.

    About Tests-
    Here i am more inclined towards Manjrekar’s views. Yes Nov 2013 is a lot of buffer but he did fairly well in Australia series and does have one of the most solid defenses still. Even if he might not score big runs in those series he can provide some stability to a fairly inexperienced lineup esp considering the woes of other experienced batsmen overseas (Gambhir, Sehwag and Dhoni). Only Gambhir at some extent can be relied to survive a quality attack for significant amount of time. IMO he should play Nov 2013 series unless ofcourse he is in ridiculously poor form (ala Rohit Sharma in SL or Raina in Eng) in next couple of home series

    About ODIs-
    Yes he should have retired after the World Cup in ODIs, ofcourse his legacy/records/contributions are too big to be severely effected by whether he doesn’t score much or choose to skip some series’ at his own will. But that was indeed the perfect time to retire. I can’t think of any reason why he continues to play this format (unless a cynic says its about 50 ODI 100s). Here he is simply blocking progress of youth. Yes he can still score lot of runs, but that will only happen if he actually plays this format. I just don’t like how he just walks into the team and some player (like Manoj Tiwari) who has been doing quite well in his absence has to be kicked out.

    • Mohan says:

      But, how is HE blocking the path if he gets selected? The selectors and captain select the team. If he gets selected, he plays! Simple.

      • Konark Goel says:

        Indian selectors have never been known to do their jobs properly. They have rarely take a bold decision. Plus in this case there’s hardly any case to ‘drop’ Sachin from ODIs simply on the fact that he has barely played ODIs and when he has played he has done alright. Though i would think atleast here selectors can be more strict and discuss with Sachin what is his long term plan and not just skip series’ at will. Either play regularly (when fit) or don’t

      • sidvee says:

        I hear you but I would put the ball in the selectors’ court when it comes to picking and choosing tours. They need to put their foot down at some point.

  5. Ram Cobain says:

    Many valid points, Sidvee. Esp the “bowled” argument. I just find it funny when people talk about retirement and then Dec 2013 in the sane breath. My take would be to give him this year at least (even if he performs miserably) and then take it from there. Our inner voice will surely miss him, whenever he retires.

  6. Vinod says:

    Good points. Lately, many high and mighty in the media and sport have incredible arrogance of appropriating critique and overtly declaring so. To criticize a PM everybody doesn’t need to be one and same applies to sportsperson.

    If SRT loves the game so much, I am sure he will be able to find plenty of other ways of serving (enjoying) it apart from being on the field. I hope better sense prevails!

  7. Hi Sidvee,
    I’m completely on board with you on the various aspects you’ve addressed. The point about India losing overseas badly with all the three stalwarts in the batting line-up is brilliant.

    I was wondering if it’d make sense to separate him still being good (not vintage Sachin, but an OK Sachin who is still a force to be reckoned with) and the need to put his replacement in the squad to give him some exposure and confidence. And what better way to give him a chance than letting him play against England and then Australia at home? If he fails, we can always have Sachin back.

    If we let Sachin stay for the England tour, there are two possibilities. Either he does well or he doesn’t. If he does well (say scores a couple of centuries or a couple of fifties), then there’ll be an uproar if he’s removed from the Aus tour. But if he doesn’t do well, then it’ll be one of those “should have groomed a youngster instead of wasting another chance on Sachin” stories. And there * might * be some merit to it.
    IF there is another home series coming in the future between the Aus tour and our tour to SA in 2013, then yes, it makes some sense to have Sachin in the team for England. For his future replacement could get a couple of series to gain confidence + exposure. But if not, then I’m not sure.

    Also, who will replace him? Rahane? Rohit? Badri? Do we throw Unmukt Chand in the mix? I don’t claim to know the answer but I’m asking if we have anyone who is ready to face quality international bowling and hopefully gain more form and confidence with a couple of home series before heading to SA. If not, then it makes no sense to remove him.

    Also, in terms of the point you’ve made on ‘he may not know best when to retire’, it immediately brought Michael Jordan to my mind. His third debut, followed by his stints with the Washington Wizards and * gulp * the Chicago White Sox somewhere in between have been well ridiculed. But he continues to be the benchmark against which all other players are measured, be it Kobe or LeBron or anyone else in the post 90s era. It hasn’t tarnished his legacy one bit. Same applies to Sachin, although he hasn’t taken up another sport prior to re-entering cricket…yet😉 So while Sachin might not know when to retire, there is no way his legacy will be tarnished after all he has achieved and whenever he retires.

    • P.S: An easy option would be to retain Sachin and show Raina the door for sometime and bring in another test caliber batsman. That way, SRT, Pujara AND the new guy, along with Kohli, Gauti, Viru, MSD look like a pretty solid line up.

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks for the comment Ajit. Insightful as always. I don’t think I have an answer to ‘who will replace him’. And I don’t think we’ll know before trying some of the potential names out. Also, I am not sure about the exact logistics of this transition. All I know is that things are going to get messy if Sachin has a poor series against England (which I am pretty sure he will be picked for, barring injury). At that time the selectors have two choices – continue to twiddle their thumbs or to have a word with him and ask him his plans. If he plans retire, give him a good farewell and move on. If he plans to play on for a year or more, that would be the time to tell him to focus on regaining form in Ranji etc. But all this will not happen because nobody will have the will to tell him all this.

      And agree with you re the Jordan point. His Wizards gig and baseball escapades are low down in the conversation.

  8. Sriram says:

    Excellent piece, Sidvee. Uniformly agree with you.

    When this question was really hot after WC 2007, Amit Varma wrote a piece that, I thought, captured the essence of the issue in two questions (http://www.indiauncut.com/iublog/article/on-ian-chappell-and-sachin-tendulkar/). I would just add one more question, given that SRT is five years older: does he fit into the medium/long term plans? Your final take implicitly answers these questions and I agree with you: three dismissals are not enough to call for his retirement but I don’t think we should rely on him being around for SA.

    I too enjoy watching a legend cope with age and try to find a way out. Rohit Brijnath wrote a terrific piece on this in 2007: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/thscrip/print.pl?file=2007112163162100.htm&date=2007/11/21/&prd=th&

    Okay, now for a bit of rant:) When Tendulkar starts playing badly, suggestions begin that he is playing on for the brand (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/cricket/2310120/Tendulkar-now-just-a-comic-hero.html). Four months later, if he starts to find his feet, we forget about his desire to sell comics and the talk is only about his class/determination/desire (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/cricket/2318768/Sachin-Tendulkar-pure-class-in-his-decline.html). In a year, as he returns somewhere close to his best and breaks some record, we start wondering if he is even human (http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/quote/374612.html). [I really hate to give this example with Atherton as I respect him hugely. However, these are the examples that come to mind first in illustrating the extremes that most discussions involving Tendulkar veer towards.] Doesn’t he want to sell just as many comics when he is in good form and we start doubting if he is human? Do three dismissals call for retirement?

    • Jagdish Nair says:

      Sriram..I totally agree with what you have said here mate. Last fortnight was hell for a die hard “Tendlya” fan like me at work and on the cricket grounds. I am generally a calm & composed guy but once my subordinates or friends on the cricket fields start riling me about the need for “Tendlya” to hang up his boots already I really lose my composure. Most of these guys are doing it just to see my riled for the sake of it and I just so feel it is my responsibility as a almost a life long fan of the ultimate Cricketer ever to defend him. I believe for someone who has done so much for World Cricket and Indian cricket in particular for last 23 years, “Tendlya” should be given this chance to retire at the time he feels right. In current World where sincerity and public image are fickle I believe “Tendlya” is one last connection left to the good old times……Cheers.!!

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks Sriram. Good spot on Athers. I sometimes think Sachin gives people too much to think/write/debate about. His whole personality is like a giant whale that covers so much space in the ocean of cricketing discourse that people cherry pick things to write about depending on the state of affairs. He is brand, icon, legend, god, comic, man-child, boy, hero … all rolled into one. He is basically everything. It’s like asking someone – ‘what is your opinion of the world’. That opinion will no doubt keep changing over time – because there is so much to say about the world and so many angles to explore. Same thing here.

      • cornerd says:

        Excellent point. And yet….not a single worthwhile book on the man. Maybe because of this….can anyone even hope to write the definitive book on Sachin?

      • sidvee says:

        Will there be a definitive book on the world?:)

      • Sriram says:

        Wonderful analogy. I agree that it is impossible to convey all aspects of his personality in an article and it’s perfectly fine if opinions change. But if the writer has a new view of the world, I would like it if he lets the reader know that it’s a new view (especially if the two views are radically different a few months apart). Take Brijnath and Atherton for example. Each wrote an article after WC 2007 that Tendulkar should quit (for different reasons). When Tendulkar found some form in England, both wrote about how they enjoyed watching him find his feet again (links above: pure class in decline, still teaching lessons). But the difference is that Brijnath provided some context in the second article: he begins by stating unequivocally that he was wrong the first time around and explains what he learnt in watching Tendulkar struggle. This story line seems more “honest” to me (even if it’s not a complete picture), rather than presenting some new angle to the world out of the blue. Maybe I am making too big a deal about this and maybe it’s not practical with the word limits while writing, but all this jumping on him at the first sign of things going wrong followed by deification a bit later (or vice versa) bothers me sometimes …

      • sidvee says:

        Yes, I agree. I too wish some writers accept their wrong calls upfront (like Brijnath did in that piece)

  9. congusmaximus says:

    You’re spot on. I think the truly great ones struggle to understand when its really , really over, since they’ve come back from the trenches so many times before. This is surely just another of those times. I saw a revealing documentary on Ali vs Holmes. You could see that he was trying his darndest, but deep down, for probably the first time, he showed a genuine fear of failure. I’m not sure I see that in Tendulkar yet, but I’d hate to see him go out like Ali did against Berbick.

    CK Nayudu retired at 59 after hitting Vinoo mankad for two sixes in his last Ranji season. Somewhere, I think we must calm down and not panic because he’s 40. Too bad if Badrinath or whoever has to wait.

    • cornerd says:

      Spot on. We can’t set 40 as the retirement age and back work our logic with Sachin. It’s perhaps true for most cricketers, maybe even for Sachin….just that we have no evidence to believe so. If you had told anyone who was present in MCG last December that this is a man who’s hampered by slowing reflexes, 70k people would have laughed at you. Of course, his place ought to be questioned if he goes a through a long drought, which is clearly not the case yet. And why are we bothered about his retirement? We want him to give us fond memories of his last few days when it conflicts with his own desires? He could have retired on March 1, 2003 in that case. Dignified exit has gotta be one of the ugliest terms…. Retiring on a high is the most overrated nonsense in all sports. WTF does that even mean? When do you stop? Where do you draw the line between resilience and delusion? Ya, Sunny finished off in great style…but who’s to say he didn’t retire too soon? I find this whole retirement debate quite ludicrous. Only worthwhile debate is: does he merit his place in the team or not. If he doesn’t, then his age or the fact that guy waiting to take his spot is an youngster is irrelevant anyway. If he does, well he does.

      As a Sachin fan, every lean patch of his affects me. I wonder why he does what he does…why can’t he do something else that I think he should be doing….What’s the point of carrying on…etc., that’s ok in a fanzone…not in newspapers.

      (There was a time where a bunch of us seriously thought using the MRF bat with Genius inscribed in it makes him bat differently…more defensively. Quite amazingly, the correlation worked well for a fair bit of time…haha. Also he alternated between MRF and MRF Genius bats quite frequently at that time…wonder why. IIRC he used the MRF (without Genius) bat agt Pak at Centurion and the one with Genius in the final agt Aus. It’s quite possible that it played a part in our loss…LOL…Is there a newspaper ready to publish this?)

      • sidvee says:

        Agree re retirements. I don’t understand how anyone outside Sachin’s family and close friends (who probably had a say when he took up the game) have any say in the matter. Retiring on a high etc are all temporary charms that people crave. Doesn’t matter in the long run. I don’t think it would have changed much had Gavaskar retired in the next series. Also, he sure played a great innings but we lost that series! So your best batsman plays an epic innings and leaves when the team has just lost a big series. Isn’t that something to be criticized? I am just saying all these aspects are never brought up when all this ‘retire on a high’ comes up.

      • Deepan Joshi says:

        Cornerd,
        A lot of things you’ve said not just in this particular answer but as a whole on the issue are quite pertinent. There isn’t even a decent book on him as yet forget a definitive one. I don’t agree with Sid’s post or for that matter with most of the articles that have appeared during the NZ series. It’s not to do with what Sid’s said or not said but because the complex fabric of the story has gone unnoticed. This whole debate is extremely unfair to the man and it makes no difference on which side of the spectrum one is. There is a human and an inhuman side of what’s been going on in the media ever since he scored his 99th hundred. He was in peerless form for three years starting from the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne in 2007 to the New Year Test in Cape Town in 2011. He peeled hundreds at the speed of Usain Bolt from the 80s to 99 and I think he skipped the WI tour because he was in such great form that he wanted it perhaps in England and his form was still sparkling if you remember his 34 in Lord’s. Would rank as one of the best 34’s collected in the game’s history. And what a magical ball with which Broad got him. As much as I am his fan I would have been disappointed had Broad not got that wicket. It was perfect. Marginally outside off, very close to being a half-volley, and moved just a shade. The ball decided Tendulkar’s response and that was the greatness of it. That’s where the decline started and the obtuseness of the media made it impossible for him to even breathe. And from that peak slowly it came down to the fact that he got it in Dhaka just to get the monkey off his back.

    • sidvee says:

      Good point on ‘fear of failure’. I think it was Athers or Manjrekar who once made this point about how SRT differs from many other batsmen (I think Lara was the comparison point). SRT is willing to bare his frailties in a giant stadium. He is always trying to be the best but is strong-willed enough to eat humble pie. I don’t think the same can be said of many batsmen – it must be damn hard to be so great and to yet submit your ego to such dismissals against Boult, Bracewell and Southee.

      • cornerd says:

        Hehe. Manjrekar in fact made the opposite observation then. Said Tendulkar is afraid of failure and doesn’t want to play unless he’s 100% fit…whereas Lara is trying to eke out as many great innings as possible in his last few yrs in int’l cricket even when he’s not fully fit. Quite an outrageous claim that!

  10. How can people fall into the pit that they themselves have dug up? Most of these so-called SRT fans were waiting for an occasion befitting the achievement not so long ago! Yeah, he has been dismissed three times in a row, and we see the retirement questions popping up.

    In the past, he has had wretched runs, more worse than what we are seeing now. One, in 2002, where he scored 8 runs in 4 innings in the Caribbean (2002). There too, people tend to forget that he scored 117 before that run of poor scores, and had a solid last Test, which we lost. People didn’t ask for him to be dropped then, and he repaid them by producing two brilliant knocks

    He also had a poor run down under in 2003/04. We saw him responding with 301 runs in the final Test to come out of that run.

    People not close to him can only go by what he has done in the past. So, going by that I can see a good innings round the corner. The fact that this is a two-match series did him no favours.

    He can’t be expected to score a century on grandma’s birthday, your love anniversary, your engagement date and all such. The fickle nature of people’s memory will ensure that, if and when, the next century comes, everything else will be forgotten.

    Regarding the people and their views, Imran had a brilliant response “If I judged myself on the responses I got from the public, I wouldn’t have played a ‘next Test’ so many times in life”

    • sidvee says:

      Agree mostly, Raghav. But there is also a question of ‘how long a rope must he be given’? One series? Two? More?

    • Biophysicist says:

      I agree with what Sidvee says. When Sachin failed in 2002 people didn’t ask him to be dropped because he wasn’t 39 then, he was only 29. But when you are nearly 40, your long term value to the team is another 6 months or 1 year. Then people will ask for you to be dropped after a few failures. Sachin had a average to poor 18 month period when he averaged around 35 runs in 13 tests – about 20 runs below his career average. I haven’t checked his career for similar stretches of similar, below par performance, but I doubt if he had any other such a long stretch during his long, illustrious career after he has established in the Indian middle order in the early 90s. This is what makes people ask for his retirement.

  11. tracer007 says:

    Reblogged this on Like a Tracer Bullet and commented:
    @sidvee makes somes excellent points and addresses all the pertinent issues surrounding the debates on SRT….

  12. Amit says:

    Was reading an article this morning in The Hindu, by Nirmal Shekhar – The Tricky Tendulkar Debate – Interestingly, one of the arguments he made was about “that” match in Wimbledon where Sampras looked devastated after having lost in the second round, and the world discussing his legacy, his age, and his time to walk into the sunset – ace journalists included. The moment in the second test somehow seemed similar. We are not wont to seeing a Sachin vent himself out like the way he did. And in that venting lies my biggest hope. As you point out, the great players know how to fight in the trenches. They can evaluate the odds, and adjust their strategies. And we have seen Sachin evolve a few times too many, so what’s there to suggest that he won’t, again.

    Re. the long term plans and the role he has in the team, and the calls that selectors need to make – two quick thoughts –

    a) If the esteemed selectors knew what they should be doing, they would be paying a lot more attention to the domestic circuits and breeding of new talent than they do today.
    b) Is there any demerit in letting an “older” batsman continue with the team because he probably still is one of the top 5 best batting bets that the country can take? Or, would you expedite his exit simply because you need to plan for the future? It’s a corporate debate that we often face in our jobs, but I think the debate applies to sports.

    • sidvee says:

      The Sachin vent was no doubt uncharacteristic. As for your points – I hope the selectors are paying more attention to domestic cricket. However I am a bit concerned about performances in one format being used to select players for another format.
      Re your corporate debate – I think the basic problem lies with the fact that there is no single Test event (like a World Cup in ODIs) for which teams need to prepare and plan for. The only aim in Tests is to win every match/series and build towards the No.1 ranking. So the Indian team’s only aim now is to win the England series. In an ideal world – teams would draw up particular goals to attain (like win 5 out of the next 7 away series or some such) and work towards it. But otherwise it’s just one series to the next.

  13. knittins says:

    VVS wasn’t nudged by the selectors. He was indirectly by what he read in the papers, but that’s a different matter. Dravid too made up his mind without the selectors asking him to. Result – Kohli and Pujara got the 2 Tests against NZ they deserved to ease them into a tough first full season for India. It’s only fair that Rahane/Badri/whoever eventually takes Tendulkar’s spot is also eased in too. If he’s going to come into the side this season, then he’s already going to be at a disadvantage for not having played NZ.

    Is Tendulkar’s case really that different from Dravid’s and Laxman’s? Tough one – he’s as old as them, and has in fact played for far longer, but he’s also been the fittest Indian cricketer of the pre-Dhoni era. Has age diminished Tendulkar as a batsman? Tough one again – but the fact is that, while his feet moved well in Australia, he’s also been making fatal errors far more frequently than he was at the World Cup. This could be a form slump, or it could be age. History suggests that these 2 aren’t always two separate issues when a batsman is nudging 40.

    Yes, it is the selectors’ job to ask him to stay/leave. But India’s selection committees have always been averse to asking big names to go. Hell, they carried Harbhajan for an entire year and more before dropping him. They had no intentions of phasing out Dravid and VVS either. Tendulkar is in a different league altogether. To say that it is their job, and that Sachin should play for as long as he’s not dropped, is to ascribe a sense of responsibility to the selectors. Thankfully our players have shown more sense than that (Kumble, Ganguly – though pushed by certain quarters, Dravid, VVS – all moved before it was too late) – Hope Sachin does likewise. Only he knows if the time has come. Not the selectors. Not us.

    • sidvee says:

      I was going by the Telegraph report quoted here: http://cricket.yahoo.com/news/vvs-laxman-set-to-retire.html.

      The thing with Sachin is that he’s come out of these slumps so often that maybe he thinks (and I hope he’s right) that this is just another of those times. I totally understand if he is unable to make the distinction between poor form and age. I am sure it’s hard for a batsman of his caliber. Which is why we need a strong selection panel. But alas …

  14. Sathish K says:

    Nice post. Agree with most of your points. Being a crazy SRT fan myself, I do accept if someone questions his technique but what upsets me is people questioning his commitment and label him “selfish”. And some of the people who write them are cricket experts, former players, journalists and sports bloggers. As you said SRT lends himself to arguments and I only wish them to be more meaningful and interesting.

    Good that you mentioned Gilchrist there. This is where BCCI need to learn from CA. “Age” is certainly not a factor there but “Fitness” and “Form” are. Hussey and Ponting are almost of the same age. While Hussey is still playing in all “THREE” formats, Ponting is playing only in the Tests. During the CB series he was asked to quit ODI. He retired only after he was spoken to by the selectors. I am sure Ricky would have continued playing had the selectors allowed him to. Who would want to quit the game they love so much? And why do people think that SRT is blocking the progress of a youth? As long as he performs he isn’t. If he is not performing the selectors are.

    And Indian selectors have taken bold decisions in the past. Didn’t they drop Kumble, RSD, VVS from ODI side. Didn’t they drop SG from the Test side. Whether they were right or wrong then, they didn’t mind dropping a senior player.

    • sidvee says:

      Yes, those labels are often bandied about without much basis. Like we discussed in the ‘Two Views on SRT’ post. And totally with you on the selectors not doing their job.

  15. Swamikarthik says:

    The question is, if Sachin scores big in the very next test, will that mean all is well with his batting again? As Sidvee rightly said, Sachin has had a problem with the incoming delivery for quite a while now. And he hasnt exactly been comfortable outside the offstump too, often keeping the wicketkeeper and the slip cordon interested. And given the fact that he has had to put away some strokes like the hook and the pull (I have never seen him even attempt the stroke for a while now. He always ducks), I fear his ‘vulnerabilities’ are showing up more often than before. If you go purely by watching his game without going into any other emotional factors, I would say that he is looking ordinary.

    • sidvee says:

      If he has a good series against England (and by ‘good’ I don’t mean he scores 400 runs but that he is one of the best batsmen in the team) he must continue to play (if he wants to and if the selectors think he fits in the plans). I don’t know if anyone can confidently say ‘he is back to form’ or ‘he is out of form’ based on a few innings.

      • Swamikarthik says:

        Fair enough. If he turns out to be one of the best batsmen in the series, he has every right to continue. He looked good in Australia in he test series, but was a disappointment in the ODIs. And looked patchy in the series on either side of the Australian tour (WI, Eng and NZ). That makes me wonder if the one good series he might have is in fact the right indicator of how good he really is.

  16. Neeran says:

    It is probably heresy, in these win-at-all-costs times, to say this… But I know who I’d rather watch — Tendulkar vs Badrinath or whoever — even at the cost of the team! It’s not that I don’t care about the result. But that’s not why I watch the game — especially the longer FC games and Tests. I watch it for the aesthetic pleasure, and even an ageing Sachin is just as attractive to watch as he was 20 years ago — possibly even more. And he’s certainly streets ahead of Badrinath, Raina, Rahane, Gambhir et al.

  17. Deepak Rao says:

    Sidvee,
    I agree with all your takes. But I do find it an over analysis for someone getting bowled 3 times in a row. There were other balls which were similar to where he got out which he hit. So he suddenly could not have got on to a time machine and gone back in years. I would agree if it was like he got out bowled first ball or struggled to pick up any full lenght deliveries at all.
    I agree broadly with your take on “The Tendulkar-knows-best-when-to-retire assertion”. I remember commenting on the same topic some time back on your blog. But when you cite examples of Javed or Kapil, there is a Hadlee who played well into his 40 and a Murli or a Walsh who played till late in their cricketing life.
    While I agree with you that he does not need a buffer till Nov 2013, I do think he and the selectors need to agree with a plan and perhaps he needs to officially retire from ODI.

    All said and done I remember 3 instances
    1, Manjrekar’s famous Elephant in the room coment was responded with 2 good innings in the finals in Australia. ( I say good, because in one the target wasnt stiff, and the other one he slowed down approaching his 100 and got out before)
    2. Ian Chappell telling his time was over during tennis elbow time and responding with a rejunavation
    3. Before the 2001 series in SA, his ODI record in SA was all over the place and it was quite poor. He responded with his best in a bilateral ODI series in SA
    4. There was this doctor in Mangalore Dr. Whathisname who said he had predicted his back problem and nobody talks about it now.

    So I think this will spur him on for a good series against England and a better one against Aus.

    • sidvee says:

      Well it was not just these three innings. He also had some poor outings in Aus before this. And yes, the selectors need a concrete plan (have needed one for a long time now). I don’t doubt his ability to come back. The question (for the selectors) will be how long a rope do they give him.

  18. Golandaaz says:

    another aspect that needs to be included in this debate is his reluctance to take up any leadership role in an official capacity but the influence he nonetheless may yield over the team. What does want? Is he really okay with him staying on and cramping his style. Is he cramping his style. How often on a smaller scale do incidents like the Bell run-out happen? Dhoni does/says one thing and Sachin influences something else.

    Border played quite a long innings however he was building a foundation that was to sustain for 2 decades. Sachin’s leadership roles are covert and unverifiable. Were he captain this would have been an easier debate. At this point his insistence on ‘no one can tell me what to do’ is appearing far too selfish

    • Golandaaz says:

      corrections

      wield not yield

      and

      What does Dhoni want

    • sidvee says:

      I don’t agree. He plays a big role in guiding younger players – his presence does inspire many of them. Also he has been a big help on various occasions (none more so than 2007 in England when India were without a full-time coach). He took up a big leadership role during that tour and I am sure has done so many other times. Having said that, I am not sure of his contributions in this regard in the last few series. A story idea for a reporter there.

      • Golandaaz says:

        2007 was 5 years ago…its his post WC career extension I am questioning…he can always comeback as a coach and have real leadership responsibilities and accountabilities

  19. Sriram says:

    Sid, don’t you think SRT (the great) is a BRAND!! BCCI wants him to play on as long as he thinks he can score even if its only 30s or 90s..it brings big money spenders to table. ESPN has paid a huge sum hoping SRT will play all 10 tests at home..This is not to belittle the great man, but its commercials, not just his personal commitments, but BCCI’s commitments that keeps him going. Its what is keeping MSD to play Tests, for these 10 Tests at home would bring Billions to Indian cricket (read BCCI)..and SRT, MSD has to play all 10.

    • sidvee says:

      Of course he’s a brand. But that is no excuse for the selectors. Sure there will be many pressures on them to pick this player or that but their job is to keep these things aside. I am not disagreeing with you, just saying that the selectors don’t have this excuse.

  20. Subbaraman Krishnan says:

    Age is a not a criteria for selection. if he performs consistently and adds value to the team he can go on and on. The retirement debate has come up due to string of poor scores in the last few series both home & away. Had he scored couple of fifties or hundred no one would have opened this debate.

    • Sagar says:

      I don’t think his performances are the reason for this debate. Those who want Sachin to retire have been barking on it even while he was scoring 70+ scores in England and Australia. Those get the young lads in and he is too old for young girls to fantasize arguments etc. The NZ series just gave the SRT retire bandwagon a new weapon to shoot. IMHO, those who keep harping for SRT to retire just want some news worthy thing to happen…once SRT retires, they can move to when will sehwag retire…

  21. rjt00 says:

    Reblogged this on rjt00 and commented:
    @sidvee Nailing on the recent SRT talks.

  22. Sunil Nagaraj says:

    Great points! However, I am yet to see a discussion on the possibility of Tendulkar being dropped for a test/test series that would give other players an opportunity. Is the thought of Tendulkar playing for Mumbai and making his way back to the Indian team at 40 too far-fetched?
    Have we somehow built up Tendulkar so much in our collective psyche that we can’t see him treated like most would for a temporary lack of form?

  23. tarunvignesh says:

    I think people are reading too much into Sachin’s 3 bowled dismissals- and deny credit to the bowlers for having produced those balls. He still looks classy in offence & defence with time to play his stokes.

    Having said that I have to agree with @sidvee that the selectors should have had a chat with Sachin with respect to his retirement plans and whether it is in line with their vision for the future. Afterall it is a team sport. Sachin himself would not want to be treated as an ageing horse on its last legs – so I think his performances should be viewed no different from that of any other player and the hard call must be made when the time comes.

    Finally I’ll say this- his incredible longevity is a testament to his unbridled passion for the sport apart from his genius – which is the reason he has the cult following when compared to Dravid-VVS.

  24. Shriram Krishnan says:

    Nice balanced post Sid. I like how you have broken up the whole argument into its constituents and tackled them individually. I agree with most of your takes. My 2 cents:

    The consistently-bowled-translates-to-you’re-finished reasoning: There are periods in everyone’s career when you become prone to a certain type of dismissals. It starts out as coincidence usually, then something at the back of your mind and keeps getting bigger till you sit down, acknowledge, analyse, practice and fix it. As u said, Tendulkar has had his fair share of problems with the incoming balls on the stumps as has he during his famous Australia tour where he kept nicking outside off-stump. Ponting recently had an issue with the pull-hook earlier his bread and butter shot but seems to be over it now. I think it may be a bit too early to decide if Tendulkar can or cannot fix this problem.

    The How-dare-you-talk-about-Tendulkar’s-technique pooh-pooh: pooh-pooh to that argument. If you are fit to step on to the field, then you are fit to be analysed and criticised. I don’t subscribe to the theory that most of the critics, analysts and writers that we hear from are not fit enough for their roles. I am of the view that in this competitive world you don’t get to where you are without deserving to be there (shock-jocks included). There are exceptions to all rules but they usually are a tiny fraction.

    The Sehwag-Gambhir-Raina reminder: Nope, I don’t care, neither will Tendulkar. I am just interested in Tendulkar’s individual performance irrespective of the others’ around him. It may sound unfair but the reason why he is so loved and respected is because he has always focused on giving his best and keeping up the high standards he has set for himself blind to all else happening around him. Even if the others are not performing, it is not a reason to give Tendulkar more rope nor is it right to kick him off if he has a poor run compared to the others.

    The India’s-batting-is-too-fragile-to-lose-Tendulkar-at-this-stage theory: This argument is based on the Tendulkar of high-standards. Not just India, no team can afford to lose THAT Tendulkar irrespective of age. But the pertinent question is if the Tendulkar of today is the same one. I don’t think we have seen enough to decide either way and hence we need to reserve judgement on that one.

    The Tendulkar-knows-best-when-to-retire assertion and The why-is-Tendulkar-tolerating-being-reduced-to-a-struggling-mortal conundrum: I find these two somewhat related. Tendulkar has shown amazing self-awareness about his game. He tailors his training and schedule depending on the challenges ahead and has usually been pretty proactive in tackling technical flaws etc. So It does make sense that he would know when he is not good enough to continue anymore. But what he feels about where his game is may not be at par with how the others – the selectors to the spectators included feel. If that is the case, he effectively is setting himself up to be dropped if he doesn’t perform up to expectations. Which I think is BRILLIANT. There seems to be this feeling that the heroes must live and die as heroes. But I find it takes someone more than a hero to not worry about his legacy and keep pounding away till he is cut down. Not everyone must retire when they are on top. They must retire when they are satisfied. Most players seem to be satisfied once they reach a peak – a personal or a team milestone and choose to retire. And good on them if they want to do that. And some may not be satisfied on reaching the peak, may be they feel there are bigger peaks or that they enjoy the journey down as they did the way up. Good on them too. I for one cannot wait to see how Tendulkar fights his way out of the current situation or how he gets cut down. Either will only enhance his legacy in my eyes.

    I personally feel it is way too early for him to be cut down. But I don’t think it is correct to ink his name down for the Nov 2013 tour either. We just need to wait and watch the next few tests before deciding either way.

    Sorry, It turned out to be more than 2 cents…:P

  25. Shiv kumar says:

    Sid- awesome piece, as always- just one element , arguably the most decisive one in sunsetting the SRT era, thats missing in your analysis is the timing and impact of the consequent disruption in the SRT ecosystem enveloping zillions of brands, endorsements,mkt cap / brand value of MI in IPL and CL and several other intangibles including emotional equity of atleast quarter of a billion mortals on planet earth! ……..so many moving parts that need to be reconciled

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks Shiv. I agree with you about the SRT ecosystem. It is no doubt a big factor. But I expect professional selectors to think beyond such factors. Does that sound too unreasonable?

  26. Sarath Chandra says:

    They say that a picture is worth a thousand words; If ever that was the case, this is it. I don’t remember such a reaction on getting dismissed from Sachin ever before. It shows that the hunger is still there.

    If i was Sachin’s fan when he was the lone warrior in the team, if i was his fan when he won us the w.c, then i damn well will be his fan today when he is struggling for runs.

    There is nothing to dis-agree about in the article. In fact your take on the “The why-is-Tendulkar-tolerating-being-reduced-to-a-struggling-mortal conundrum” is perfect. If his last few exploits are going to be the wrapping paper or the ribbon on his legacy, so be it. Regardless of how they turn out, i know what’s inside the wrapping and it is pretty special.

    But i am surprised that you missed out on the ‘ His brands wont let him go.’ According to me, this is
    the most ludicrous argument of all. It pains me to see senior journalists talk about this. It is total dis-respect to Sachin, his achievements and also all his fans.

    I will be happy watching him bat for the rest of my life; whether he is still good enough is the selector’s and the captain’s problem, not mine.

  27. robin says:

    What if Gavaskar is right or maybe partially at least ?? What if batsman do find it difficult to play the full-length delivery as they nudge the late-30’s ?? I remember Ricky Ponting having quite a few problems against Steyn & Co. last October. The only difference was that he shuffled and hence was plumb in front while Tendulkar doesn’t so he gets bowled.

    • sidvee says:

      I am not saying Gavaskar is wrong. I am sure he is the one most likely to be right. But people are extrapolating his analysis and saying ‘SRT is finished’ etc. That is not reasonable to me.

  28. Ankur@raone31 says:

    Well its hard not to get emotional about a man whose 82 off 49 balls in 1994 made my jaw drop as a 9yr old and made me a Sachin fan forever.
    Over the years , esp last 10, we have seen lot of talk on Sachin’s poor form with some likening him to “endulkar” to wanting him “look in the mirror” to “a comic book hero” .
    Most of these times i would get really really agree and i would write angry mails to those newspapers/channels…..
    But with time i realized its a exercise in futility….Coz, the opinions of these people vary with every good/bad performances to the extreme…ie its either God or Satan..:)

    Also some people like Sidvee discuss with merit and reason and even a diehard fan would agree on most of his points here.

    What i have also learnt over the years is Sachin’s ability to make a comeback. He invariably scores big after a lean patch….and the fan in me tells or hopes that such would be the case this time around also.

    I am worried though that this time he has not been able to perform consistently…Apart from few knocks like in Delhi/Mumbai/MCG he has largely been very scratchy….not being himself. Its quite strange that this drop in “extended” form has come on the back of 2 brilliant 100’s in SA.

    Coming to present, i would say that its was quite unfair on most to completely shield the ina-aptitude of our bowlers, openers from the 0-8 loss last year.

    even in this series the openers and fast bowlers let us down quite remarkably and we still focus on this man.

    yes he’s the superstar, but you cannot ignore your openers not scoring a 100 for over 2yrs. Or ZAK not being able to take wickets consistently. Such liberty has not been extended to the great one himself.

    I would conclude though that being 39, he has to decide on his future quite soon and his current poor form has come at worst possible time for him.

  29. narayanan723 says:

    Nice article Sidvee, and important facts mentioned and I agree with most of them.
    Tendulkar getting bowled, I don’t think can be taken as a hint to his falling abilities. As you mentioned, he used to get bowled like this even when he was in his prime. I Think from 1997 onwards, time and time again we have seen him in that crouched posture after an incoming delivery got the better of him, one of the earlier ones being that dismissal in the 1997 Barbados test when India were chasing 120 only. Whatever technical problems he may be having, I think he will work on it and start scoring again, but I simply don’t think we still need him to score massively to win a match or at least draw a match. The youngsters coming through are seriously talented and match winners in their own rights. I find it odd when people always doubt the caliber of young players even after consistent performances.

    I consider myself as a Tendulkar devotee, but I don’t think he is the most important batsman in the team now, that is Virat Kohli for sure. His recent performances have surely placed him way above anyone else in the team. From a purely cricketing point of view, I don’t think the Indian test team will be severely weakened if Tendulkar is not there. I am excluding factors such as the presence of 22 years of international cricket in a dressing room and the valuable tips youngsters can get from the most eligible man in world cricket today. Those values Tendulkar brings to an Indian team set up are irreplaceable. I consider only the number of runs that we can score as a team in an Innings and I think we will still score more or less the same number of runs over a series with both Tendulkar playing and him not playing.

    About the SA tour, I agree with you that it is too long a buffer to be given to any player, and also while it is important to care about performances overseas, don’t forget the fact that not many team win abroad these days. So even if India go well prepared and play well and run SA closely, it is possible that they get beaten. As long as it is not of the humiliating kind of England and Australia we should not be too critical of the team. For such a difficult tour I think the selectors can use a simple formula when picking batsmen (It may be foolishness). For a 3 test series, if you can think of the possibility of a batsman failing in all three tests and if it doesn’t come as a huge surprise, then that is a risk taking that batsman for that tour. I may be saying this in hindsight, but VVS Laxman to England and Australia last season was such a risk. So regarding Sachin’s selection for SA, it should only depend on the way he will be playing before that tour. If his scores read say, 10,8,2,22,17,6, in the 6 innings before that then you are risking a position in the batting order.

    • Biophysicist says:

      I think even if his scores read 29, 52, 21, 13, 64 and 35 in the last 6 innings (average 35+) you should not keep him in the Indian team further. I would rather have a youngster in the team who may score similarly in his first 6 innings (even a little less), but will benefit from the experience, which will hopefully help him perform better in the future than have Tendulkar with such below average performance with no prospect to be in the team after another year or two. In fact, if you consider his scores in the last 7 test innings (15, 8, 25, 13, 19, 17 and 27), even by your criteria he is a burden on the Indian test cricket team.

  30. Vikram says:

    The early seventies gang (Tendulkar, Laxman, Ganguly and Dravid) all got their first opportunity by 21-22 (16 in Tendulkar’s case). The late 80’s gang or the 1988 gang to be precise (Kohli, Pujara and Rahane) should have really all been blooded at a similar age for they have been ready for 2-3 years. Now that it looks like Pujara and Kohli are on their way to becoming regulars, its imperative to get Rahane in as soon as possible. These 3 batsmen seem to have all the talent and dedication required to succeed at the top level.

    Interestingly, all great Indian batsmen of the past have been blooded latest by 22, we are doing the current generation a great disservice by not giving them an opportunity at the right time.

    • sidvee says:

      Fine point. But we must make one distinction between this bunch and the rest – the earlier batsmen did not really have that much prep for international cricket. Many have spoken of the standards between Ranji Trophy and international cricket being vast. So many had to learn on the job at the highest level. I think the Pujaras and the Kohlis are way better off. They grew up on a diet of international cricket on TV and many have played in front of packed audiences in high pressure situations. Sure, Test cricket will still demand plenty from them but I think we need to recalibrate the age for this generation.

  31. Biophysicist says:

    Dear Sidvee:
    I find your analysis quite objective and unbiased. I enjoyed reading your post. I personally felt that considering his recent performances, and keeping in mind the need to get exposure to a few young middle order batsmen, it would be appropriate for the selectors (and captain and coach) to tell Tendulkar to quit now rather than continue to play against the English (and Australia) in the coming months. Continuing with Tendulkar would mean losing an opportunity to test a couple of youngsters in the home tests, which is likely to be of long-term benefit to the Indian test cricket.

  32. hari s says:

    From a cricket lover’s perspective (alone), I don’t understand the need for this retirement talk. There’s people (him and the selectors) who will decide that anyway; its out of my control anyway. Instead, I just try to focus on watching him counter challenge after challenge over the last decade, which has been instructive and inspiring.

    Its almost like the theme of a Hollywood animation; a young tiger comes to down and becomes the strongest in town by taking everyone down. But the field evolves and stronger and faster tigers keep emerging. The fun in the movie is usually in watching how the “now not very young” tiger devises new and different methods to combat every young tiger and stay top of the pack. Process not product.

    The media needs to relax. I agree with congus.Today’s 40 is yesterday’s 35. The problem is, like google search words paired with “pron” get more visitors to website, news stores with SRT generate more eyeballs. And in any case, like i already said, its not in our hands….

  33. AB says:

    I’ve always secretly wished someone from India retired in the way Imran Khan did.. our great man had a chance, and boy, did he blow it big time! sigh..
    I guess I understand his love of the game, and all that talk, but honestly, ODIs are becoming a bit of a joke IMHO, and all the more when they are played in India. You score 350 and still probably are 50 short. Runs cease to matter after a while.
    I hope he stays on till SA next year if possible, not many sights are more joyous than a back-foot punch through covers.

  34. sandeep says:

    Hey Sid,
    This is my bi weekly schedule. First I first go to Cric info. There i read the comments written by the future of India- Brainlesss tenagers who have never played a single district level match in their lives.They give team compositions, pass sweeping judgements on every player,coin names like ‘selfishkar’, ‘Nohit sharma ‘, imagining themselves to be great ‘wits’, never once admitting that the same players whom they had picked last week in their ‘team ‘performed miserably later. .They really seem to enjoy the downfall of any player and the joy they seem to derive out of it is quite frightening. And all this is done under the garb of a very weird form of ‘Patriotism’. eg Pride of the country is at stake , he scored but country didnt win, a century is meaningless without a win, and other statements along these lines. I find this highly irritating and by now my blood begins to boil. Then to cool myself down i visit ur blog. Common sense , which is a rarity on Cricinfo, can be found here in abundance , both in ur pieces and the equally good comments by ur readers. So a heartfelt thank u for that.
    I dont want to comment much on the retirement issue , as everyone above has said everything that is relevant about it and i agree with most of them above.
    Now, moving into Personal Rant territory. One thing which i would like to point out, which seems to be rarely discussed , especially with overseas records, is in what context the runs were scored. I mean how many centuries /big scores were scored by our batsmen in the 1st 2 tests of an overseas series. Because it is in theses 1st 2 or 3 tests that the series is generally decided. Later on, the opposition takes its foot off the pedal, if they have won the series and u will find that our batsmens overseas record improves then. Its also the reason i value SRT’s overseas knocks so highly, cuz many of them (not all) have come when the series was still alive. eg that 155 off 185 balls vs southafrica or the169 in cape town , the knocks against england, the centuries against new zealand etc. Even in the recent australia tour, he was the only one who scored in the 1st 2 tests when the series was alive. Now if SRT had scored a century in the 4th test at adelaide, critics would have jumped down his throat saying that it was meaningless, selfish,since it only improved his own record etc, etc. But cuz Kohli has scored it, he gets accolades for it. ( Fully deserved, by the way, I am only pointing out the hypocrisy here). And i am sick of the eulogising of Dravid and Laxman retiring ,making it seem to be as if it was one of the most patriotic things ever done in the history of our nation, when the truth is both of them felt that they had reached a point where they felt they had had enough and hence chose to retire. Every sentence on Them retiring is followed by a barbed comment on SRT. It now seems that their greatest achievement in cricket was their Retirement ! I find it very sad and find it increasingly difficult to follow cricket in india, where most people dont seem to have any love for the sport but instead seem to follow it only to see their own countrymen fail and then to gloat in their failure. I agree that winning matters but not at the cost that u take the opposition out of the equation entirely, and refuse to give them any credit for defeating us and instead blame everything on our players. I mean , 100 articles have been written on SRT’s 100 against Bangladesh being the reason for our defeat but how many had the decency to even mention, let alone appreciate, the fantastic run chase by Bangladesh. Am i making any sense?

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks Sandeep. You make a lot of sense. I too don’t read the CI comments for the same reason. There is too much trash talk. Good point about scoring in a live-series. People often forget that when they talk about Sachin not being a matchwinner etc (which is a line of thought I don’t agree with). And yes, Dravid and Laxman both left after a poor series. So I don’t understand how people kept saying ‘the timing was right’. If at all Dravid needed to get the timing right, he had to leave after England. Sure I like his point about wanting to play when in form and not being selfish and going – in which case why can’t people criticize Gavaskar for retiring when he did? It all seems hypocritical to me.

    • srikanth says:

      Though i agree with what you wrote it is arrogant to say that to understand a game you need to play it. Even if one never held a cricket bat in their life one can still understand it by watching and reading about it. If someone is good enough to praise anybody they are good enough to criticize him.

  35. Cricket has become an addiction for him now. Like how certain politicians cannot stay out of politics even after 75 years, like how certain film stars act as heroes even after 60 years.

  36. Pingback: The best from the Indian Bloggers this week.

  37. Sriram says:

    Nice post sidvee, you have listed all the view points in the air these days. I have strong thoughts on how badly the selectors have handled seniors players. (i believe they do a decent job in maintaining a decent pipeline and getting good talent to senior team).

    Srikkanth could not get himself to utter the ‘dropped’ word against Sehwag; they are not able to decide on Gambhir; there was seemingly poor / no communication with Dravid or Laxman on transition. Only with Ganguly’s transition there seems to have some dialog taken place and we had Yuvi already waiting in the wings.

    The Board needs to empower the selectors to have these conversations with the seniors; if that is already in place, then there has been shoddy execution.

  38. Pingback: Be bold, be practical, do the right thing | ________________

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