Tag: Sachin Tendulkar (page 1 of 3)

Continuing to miss Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar playing cricket

Considering he’s been the highest profile player for pretty much the whole time we’ve been following cricket, we’ve missed an awful lot of Sachin Tendulkar’s career.

We went to the match in which he scored his first Test century, but we didn’t see him bat. Then, for a long time afterwards, his innings were broadcast elsewhere and we’d only check in with him once every few years when there was a World Cup or India toured England. Each time this happened, we’d wonder how the hell he managed to average over 50 – not because we didn’t think he was good, but because back then that sort of average meant something.

In more recent years, we’ve seen more of him, but that isn’t to say we’ve always watched closely. Sachin Tendulkar is so massive, such a fixture in cricket, that it never felt vital to watch any particular innings. There would always be another.


He’s never been one for the Brian Lara innings anyway. Not for him extraordinary peaks and troughs. For a man who’s hit more boundaries than anyone, his career is actually defined by accumulation. He’s had dryish spells, certainly, but he’s been playing international cricket for 25 years – that’ll happen. In general, he’s picked up a mid-sized hundred every few innings, regardless of age, opposition or location.

We’ve written before about how Tendulkar’s career is just too much to take in and evaluate. This is the true mark of his genius; that we can have missed the vast majority of his 780 international innings and still be overwhelmed by the information. You can’t boil it all down to a jus and taste it. It is something which can only possibly be consumed over many sittings.

Sachin Tendulkar scoring a very small proportion of the runs he made

Summing him up

Some career obituaries you read will point to something in particular as summing him up – a particular shot or a particular innings. No. That is entirely missing the point. The point is the sheer breadth of what he’s achieved.

Hardly anyone has been Test standard at 16. Hardly anyone has been Test standard at 40. Tendulkar has been both and more. Between those two already freakish extremes, lies the most freakish achievement of all. He’s excelled at all forms of batting near-constantly against a backdrop of insane expectation.

There are almost infinite scenarios in cricket. Different goals, different formats, different pitches, different bowlers, different fields, different circumstances. You can always find something that needs ticking off, but by any rational measure, Tendulkar has done the job.

This was why we once said that he has been better than Bradman. It was mischievous because we didn’t really mean it as a comparison. It’s just that there’s a temptation to flatter players from the past when imagining what they did or what they would have done had they been around today, whereas Sachin Tendulkar can’t really benefit from this. He’s a known quantity. In 25 years and three formats, he’s come up against a wider variety of challenges than anyone. Mostly, he’s done okay.

We haven’t written about Sachin Tendulkar

We’ve instead written about writing about Sachin Tendulkar over at Cricinfo.

Within minutes of it being published, it had already attracted insightful comment:

“Now finally great person retirement time will came But We expecting good support for younger with their experience. This Type of great person very low volume coming.”

Translation software may well have been put to use there. Translation software is gash.

Tendulkar hits his hundredth hundred and proves nothing to us

Sachin Tendulkar has done this before

These sorts of landmarks are like birthdays. They get a lot of attention, but they don’t change much. People whinge about how they’re getting older when it’s their birthday, but the truth is that every day of your life you’re a day older than the day before and your birthday’s no different.

Sachin Tendulkar isn’t a better batsman than he was yesterday, he’s just got another hundred to his name and frankly, if you need this many three-figure innings to make your mind up about a batsman, you’re not going to reach too many conclusions during your cricket-watching life.

Say something about this momentous achievement

People always moan at us for failing to acknowledge Tendulkar landmarks properly, but nothing’s really changed. We’ve little to add to the piece we wrote in which attempted to explain the scale of his achievements or the one where we said that Tendulkar has been better than Bradman.

A few people missed the thrust of that second piece, which is that Sachin Tendulkar has achieved things that Don Bradman never had an opportunity to even attempt. We’re not going to compare the two in terms of who is ‘better’ because you can’t compare what one person has achieved with what another probably/possibly would have achieved.

To all intents and purposes, Bradman and Tendulkar played different sports and as far as we’re concerned, both stand alone. We wouldn’t think any more of Bradman if he’d averaged 100 rather than 99 and we don’t really feel any different about Tendulkar now that he’s got a different statistic into three figures.

We were there when Tendulkar hit his hundredth international hundred

We were there, looking at a Cricinfo scorecard, waiting for the number to change. That’s how people watch cricket these days, right? That’s how we experience these supposedly momentous events.

We think we speak for most people when we say that we’re glad that’s out of the way. A hundred international hundreds is an odd statistic, amalgamating Test and one-day performances to arrive at a nice, round figure and the brouhaha surrounding it has detracted from some intriguing cricket.

Tendulkar’s failures have sucked the limelight from those who deserved it and his ‘failures’ have taken the gloss of decent two-figure innings. Not his fault, but still irritating.

We have written a little bit about the achievement which we’ll probably publish tomorrow. We wrote it months ago, it can wait another day. For now we just wanted to give an honest reaction. How do you feel?

Update: India’s policy of rarely playing matches in Bangladesh would seem to have been vindicated by the fact that they lost this one. Impeccable procession micturition, Bangladesh.

Sachin Tendulkar falling short

Sachin Tendulkar saddened by the prospect of some boring headlines

Suppose we should write about at least one of the Boxing Day Tests. Australia v India is the more interesting one from an impartial perspective and so far India have the upper hand thanks to Zaheer Khan and some old bastard fifties.

One of those was from Sachin Tendulkar, who apparently ‘fell short of his hundredth hundred’. Few people aren’t willing him to get to three figures before too long, if only because the whole ‘falling short’ thing is getting so tedious. It detracts from a decent innings and a decent delivery from Peter Siddle that did for him.

The way it’s going Tendulkar will be ‘falling short’ of a hundred when he’s bowled for three or even when he’s sitting at home on his settee, not playing a match. Theres a risk that he might start to claim he’s falling short when attempting all sorts of other things as well. He’ll tell the missus he’s fallen short of unloading the dishwasher and she’ll pat him on the back for making a great effort, even though all he was doing was lying in bed reading his Viz annual.

Tortoise Dravid will doubtless overtake Hare Sachin tomorrow morning to become India’s top scorer. Ed Cowan top-scored for Australia and Jarrod Kimber’s put some words together in an interesting order at Cricinfo on that subject. It’s an article that says a bit of something about being a cricket fan, hints at how hard it is to make a Test debut and boasts a beautiful closing line. We heartily recommend it.

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

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.

Is Sachin Tendulkar preventing India from having fast bowlers?

This week, Zaheer Khan said:

“Indian bodies are not designed to bowl fast.”

Assuming that Zaheer has chosen his words carefully, this seems to indicate that he believes that humans are ‘designed’. If they are designed by God, and Sachin is God, then we can conclude that the Mumbai batsman’s blueprint is flawed or perhaps prejudiced such that he has an easier time in the nets.

Alternatively, Zaheer may be hinting that Indian cricketers are designed by scientists through manipulation of genetic code. To us, this makes more sense. If your firm had the wherewithal to create a cricketer in this manner, it would demand a decent return on its investment.

This is an age of short-form cricket, where runs are the currency, and where long one-day series and back-to-back Tests sap the influence of those who carry out the most physical role in cricket. It simply makes no financial sense to design a fast bowler. It’s too risky an investment and the rewards simply don’t justify it.

Of course, even if Zaheer’s wrong, natural selection will still mean other sorts of cricketers predominate in this cricket ecosystem.

When Dravid is better than Tendulkar and Sehwag

Quite possibly our favourite cricketer at the minute

We went overboard with the Tour de France references last month, so we’ll avoid making one here, even though we want to.

Just as you can win the Vuelta a Espana without winning a single stage, so you can be considered the best batsman without being the best in every set of circumstances.

Sachin Tendulkar has a pretty solid claim to being the best batsman in the world because he’s scored plenty of runs in every country in every format of the game. That doesn’t mean he’s the best Indian batsman in seaming conditions though.

You’d have to go with Rahul Dravid, wouldn’t you? His cuts and deflections might not be so eye-catching as a booming six over cow corner, but each one demands exceptional skill, timing and judgement.

Virender Sehwag goes the opposite way – he is a worse batsman in seaming conditions. That isn’t to say that he becomes a bad batsman and it isn’t to say that he can’t score hundreds. It’s just to say he’s less likely to be successful. His method isn’t fundamentally flawed, it’s just not so well-suited to English conditions – it’s a question of degrees, not extremes.

Batting averages

Most of you know that we’ve little time for batting averages as evidence. They give a decent overview of a player, but the idea that Johnny Batstab is better than Micky Flingblade because he averages 1.3 more than him is a load of bollocks.

Averages reward certain players more than others. If you’re the kind of batsman who scores quickly and heavily on flat pitches but struggles against pace and swing, you’ll probably have a higher average than a guy who is best at getting runs in low scoring games.

Rahul Dravid’s career average of 53 is built on a reasonably eye-catching average of 50.75 in home conditions, but it is garnished by an average of 68.80 in England. There, he has scored six hundreds in 13 matches in what are frequently trying batting conditions – particularly for tourists.

In cycling terms, Dravid can hold his own in the time trials as well as the mountain stages.

Tendulkar has been better than Bradman

Over at The Cricketer, John Emburey has made the point that Sachin Tendulkar has been tested in ways that Bradman wasn’t. It’s a fair point.

Different eras

In Ed Smith’s damn fine book, What Sport Tells Us About Life, there’s a whole chapter dedicated to Bradman’s average. Someone somewhere did some sort of science/magic and concluded that in a later era, Bradman wouldn’t have averaged 99, but he’d still have averaged 70-odd or summat like that.

The point is partly that his average was higher because cricketers now are generally bigger-faster-stronger-better and partly that, actually, Bradman would still be exceptional, even allowing for that.

Different conditions

Don Bradman played Test matches in England and Australia and nowhere else. Sachin Tendulkar has played Tests in 10 countries. Only in Zimbabwe has he not scored a hundred – he has only had seven innings there and still averages 40. Tendulkar’s figures in each nation are not all exceptional, but they do stand up to scrutiny. Pace, turn, swing, seam – Tendulkar has succeeded against it all.

Different formats

Bradman excelled in every format he played – first-class cricket and Tests. Tendulkar has succeeded in every format he has played – Tests, one-day internationals and Twenty20. Defiant rearguards and hell-for-leather flaying, Tendulkar can do both and everything in between.

So Tendulkar is better than Bradman was?

We chose our title carefully. Tendulkar has been better than Bradman, because to us batting is about encountering different match situations in different conditions and succeeding. The best batsmen aren’t simply those with the highest averages, but those with the broadest range.

When comparing Bradman and Tendulkar, the latter has benefited from circumstance. We believe that Bradman would have excelled at one-day cricket and Twenty20 as well, were he around now.

But he hasn’t actually done it – Tendulkar has.

Feeble headline of the week

‘Sachin Tendulkar is arguably the best batsman of my generation’

The Guardian have set the bar low. Can anyone stoop lower?

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