Is Tendulkar’s milestone a higher priority than winning a Test match?

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Home ground. Series won. You could be forgiven for wondering whether the Wankhede pitch has been tailored for one man’s benefit – one man and his legion of fans, that is.

We could say that placing so much emphasis on one man’s achievement is disrespectful towards the 21 marionettes who will also be gracing the pitch during this Test, but it’s also disrespectful towards the beneficiary. Devalue the run and you devalue run-making achievements too. Tendulkar is good enough to deserve better.

Besides, sport is about naturally occurring tales. Steer the narrative and you diminish the story. A 20-over run chase in a Test match is infinitely more alluring than that in a manipulated 20-over format. It has greater context.

Similarly, all Test hundreds should have context. Matches are played to see which team will win, not as run-scoring exercises. Runs are a means to an end.

Or maybe it’s not deliberate. Maybe it’s just a crappy pitch.

43 comments

  1. When Kumble took all ten wickets in an innings I remember being told that the fast bowlers at the other end were instructed to bowl wide. May or may not be true, but stuck in my head.

    PS Wankhede. Hehe.

    1. Dunno, but India won that match and Kumble got them in a position to do so. We’d say a few half-hearted overs at numbers 10 and 11 from the other end is understandable if that happened.

    1. Always seems to be the thing that people overlook. They often talk like things have a set value.

      We never want a steak after a roast dinner. We never enjoy an action scene unless we care what happens to the characters. Context.

    2. There’s nothing like an oblique reference to a play mentioned in another comment on a small cricket website to guarantee a sizeable audience for a joke.

    3. However, it is another good sentence to slip into your next Cricinfo article. Maybe you could have Tendulkar say it.

    4. If the steak were to be horse meat of course, that would be context again.

      I’d like to thank Bert for that lol moment.

      It also reminded me that comedy is sometimes about doing things out of context.

      And timing.

      Comedy = tragedy + time.

      So if Tendulkar were to get out for, say, 94, on that home ground flatty…

      …let me go look up the score…

  2. I saw Martin “Great Balls” Offiah get ten tries in a match once. And then I saw Shaun “Married her out of M People with the big mouth and then went and became a top union coach but never got any less ugly” Edwards get ten tries in a match a few months later. But Edwards’s last try was given to him over the try-line, just so he could score it. It always felt artificial, largely because it was.

    But then again, cricket (all sports probably, but cricket in particular) is run by people who have never in their lives experienced sport. They’ve heard of it, and they’ve looked it up in a dictionary just to make sure. But they absolutely do not get it. In their world, all these things are true, and sport becomes like X-Factor. Matt Cardle is a star. Why? Because we are told he’s a star – he wouldn’t have had a Christmas #1 if he wasn’t a star, would he? The IPL is exciting. Why? Because we are told it is exciting – the dancing girls wouldn’t dance if it wasn’t exciting, would they?

  3. Hundreds of international matches in India and elsewhere take place on dead tracks. I am not a Tendulkar fan, and have never been, but to throw in the suggestion that the Wankhade prepared a crappy pitch so Sachin can score a hundred is insulting the man’s abilities.

  4. hmm maybe you are right! But well a 100 is a 100. And it does n’t matter to him whether the 100th one comes in a dead rubber or a well contested test game. he would be more happier to score runs when the team needs it badly even if it is the 101st and not the 100th. BCCI’s ploy has worked though. Big crowds are coming and they are busy minting money.

  5. Oh come now, KC. You know what I was saying. India/SL/Pak have always prepared crappy pitches (for the most part). The only thing that’s changed now is Sachin Tendulkar is approaching (yet another) milestone. Marrying the two facts seems rather unnecessary.

    1. We’d disagree with that a little. Pakistani pitches are frequently poor, but India sees a lot of results. High scores in the first innings, yes, but there’s usually enough in the pitch that one team wins.

      The Wankhede pitch isn’t Perth or Chelmsford, but it’s usually livelier than it is in this match. For example, R Ashwin was bitching about it, saying it was unusually flat.

      Our point is that the pitch seems uncharacteristic and that’s what’s slightly suspicious. No more than that, though – just slightly.

    1. The Cricinfo caption helpfully says “Andrew Strauss poses by a zebra in front of the Lords pavillion “

    2. Strauss is clearing wanting to be made the subject of the second greatest post of all time, but he’s not quite sure how to go about it.

    3. Why does it need to be so big?

      Does this mean the npower girls are going to have to ‘double up’ and get inside zebra suits?

  6. Surely that picture deserves a thread of its own.

    Cricketers being conspicuously indifferent to zebras or something of that sort.

  7. I dont know much about this stuff .. but is it possible to change the behaviour of the pitch in that short a time?
    I am assuming that any putative decision to alter the pitch and make it a flattie would have been made once it was known that Sachin didn’t make it in the previous two tests ..

  8. We have all overlooked the alternative explanation that a flattie pitch was prepared to enable R. Ashwin to get a century

  9. Cricinfo described Ashwin’s century today as “Energetic”.

    You’d rather centuries needed a bit more than that, wouldn’t you?

  10. The zebra is a model of a model one from Wankie Game Reserve in Zim. Half white with black stripes and half black with white stripes.

    Viz earlier remarks of yours a)drawn tests can be very exciting b)Indian supporters would be happy to watch their side bat for 5 days and c) we castigate our groundsmen for not favouring our teams.

    1. Drawn Tests *can* be very exciting. You need the tension deriving from there being other possible outcomes to provide this excitement however. There is a slight chance of this in this match, but the pitch hasn’t helped create that chance.

      Also, what game reserve?

  11. As we go into the final session of this match, all three results are almost equally possible. It would seem a sensible idea to wait for the match to finish before dissing the pitch.

    1. Whatever the outcome, 22 wickets in four days and then 14 (so far) on day five doesn’t make a good pitch in our eyes.

      A great finish despite the pitch.

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