February 2, 2006

Sachin Tendulkar, the Match-Winner.

These days it is fashionable to dismiss the great career of Sachin Tendulkar by saying that he never won matches (or that he did not win many matches) for India. It is another matter to say that he is not at his best anymore. But to say that he was not that great a player is outrageous.

Here is a nice article Sachin Tendulkar - A steady decline or a just a temporary glitch, at Desicritics by The Comic Project. He very correctly depicted the current situation. The article generated an interesting discussion between Satya and me. I thought that it was interesting and informative enough to be posted here. It is important because it deals with the most common fictitious aspersions cast at Sachin.

Satya: I thought Glitch is the term used when someone is not in form or one or two seasons and not for more than five years or so.

He has never played for his team and only for records. If Karachi would have been the turn for 35th Century then you would have seen him making some runs.

I don't know why people don't think from the brain rather than emotions. He is a white elephant and eating space of one geninue cricket player.

(Now blast me .....)

Me: Nice article, Comic Project. I also feel the same way.

Satya, I do not understand what you mean by He has never played for his team and only for records. Have you followed cricket for last 17 years? Have you seen Sachin in England and Australia in early 90s, in all the home series wins under Azhar and Wadekar in mid 90s, 96 world cup, great one-day form in late 90s (particularly 98), in world cup 2003?, all those matches against Australia?

It is another matter that his form deteriorated recently. One can have comments about that. But to discredit his whole career is very misleading and does injustice, not only to Sachin, but Indian cricket as a whole.

Satya: Krishna, form is one thing and winning matches is other thing. Can you list down 10 match winning innings from him, the ones where all have fallen but he won it for India. I remember Azhar doing that, I remember Kapildev doing that, I remember Robin singh doing that, I remember Jadeja doing that.

With Tendulkar it was always when everyone else was making 100 he would make as well. He has been put on pedestal and only a hype !

Don't equal Tendulkar to Indian cricket, this will be gross injustice.

Me: Satya, you surprise me. I am happy that you remember Kapil, Azhar, Robin Singh, Jadeja winning matches for India. But not Sachin? Very strange.

OK, let us see now. First tests. (Obviously, the last two of your match-winners are only ODI players.) Let us what Sachin, Kapil and Azhar did in tests that India won.

Azhar: Here is the list of matches that India won and Azhar made more than 50 runs in either innings.

Kapil: Here is the list of matches that India won and Kapil was just in the team. As you have to consider both his bowling and batting, I am not putting any condition here. Just matches won.

Sachin: And here is the list of matches that India won and Sachin made more than 50 in at least one innings.

First off, let me say that Azhar and Kapil were great players.

But you make your own conclusions, my friend. Azhar was involved in only 9 matches (out of 22) where we won and he made more than 50. Sachin was involved in 23 (out of 40). Just look at the figures. There were many matches his innings was the crucial difference. Also look at Kapil's record. He was a great player and the best all-rounder for India ever. But I can also say he got more than six wickets only 5 times (all before 1982) in matches India won. And he made only one hundred when India won. But he also broke lot of record. Does that give me a right to say he played only for record. Of course, not. That will be irresponsible. He was an important member of the team and his greatness was built in a career of 15 years of priceless contributions, not always reflecting in victory. Winning matches for India is not a black and white thing, not a matter of runs alone. It is a continuous thing. If you followed cricket decently in 90s, you would have seen that Tendulkar was often the only thing between the opposition and victory. I am not talking about what people said about him, or newspapers wrote about him; I am talking about the situation on the ground.

ODIs: Here you have got to be kidding me. Look at his record on Cricinfo. Look at the matches that India won and he scored more than 50. I mean in ODIs, Sachin was huge in terms of India winning. Remember Sharjah, World Cup 96, World Cup 2003 against Pakistan, the whole year of 1998??

Just go over the list on Cricinfo and you will see many matches where he score more than everybody else. He was man of the series 6 times. Do you think he would get that just like that, without any relation to the team's winning. India was a decent ODI team in 90s and Sachin was the most important reason for that (often the only reason).

Surely, Jadeja and Robin Singh won matches for us. No doubt. But do you seriously think that Sachin never did?

Dude, I did not equal Sachin to India. I only said criticizing his whole career is injustice to Indian cricket, just as criticizing any Indian player's career of more than 10 years is. I mean these people play for our country for many many years, and the least you can do is not nullify all of it by saying that they played just for records. The only proof you gave me that Sachin was playing for records is that he got many records.

Sathya, I am not asking you to agree with me that Sachin was the greatest India cricketer ever. All I am asking you is to recognize him and give him his due. Don't throw unfair aspersions, is all I am saying.

Satya: Krishna, I can see the test matches where Sachin scored more than 50 and India won, but those records does not say how much other players score.

This is what I am saying, show me the matches where all other were out under 50 and Tendulkar alone scored more than 50 or even 100 and won the match. That one is known as match winning innings, not when everyone else is making 100, he comes and makes 50.

If you say Tendulkar was the only thing between opposition and victory, I can't say anything.

In ODIs the number of matches won by Jadeja and Robin Singh will far outnumber those won by Tendulkar.

I am not saying he is a bad player but he is over hyped and for the past few years costing a genuinue player. He has now passed his cricket life, the only reason he plays is to get records now.

I doubt how many times he got out at 99 or 98?

Me: Satya, thanks for another interesting comment.

the matches where all other were out under 50 and Tendulkar alone scored more than 50 or even 100 and won the match. That one is known as match winning innings

In ODIs the number of matches won by Jadeja and Robin Singh will far outnumber those won by Tendulkar.

What can I say?! It simply amazes me how you can make such a statement! Anyway, thanks for giving me a definition of a match-winner.

Let us take your definition:

Definition: If A scores more than 50 in a match and everyone else scores less than 50, the A is said to be winner of that match, or A's innings is called a match-winning innings.

A brief study on cricinfo tells me (or you if you care to do the study) the following:

Number of Sachin's match-winning innings: 17
Number of Jadeja's match-winning innings: 3
Number of Robin Singh's match-winning innings: 0

(I will at some point actually list these matches here. It is a bit painful to write here, but if you want to see all this, just go to cricinfo and use the advanced filters. Still I will try to post the list here in future.)

Let us have some fun, and modify your definition a bit: Let us call A a match-winner if A scores more than 60 and everyone else scores less than 60. According to this definition we have (not counting the innings already accounted for above):

Number of Sachin's match-winning innings: 11
Number of Jadeja's match-winning innings: 0
Number of Robin Singh's match-winning innings: 0

Let us have some more fun, and call A a match-winner if A scores more than 70 and everyone else scores less than 70. According to this definition we have (and again, not counting the innings already accounted for above):

Number of Sachin's match-winning innings: 6
Number of Jadeja's match-winning innings: 3
Number of Robin Singh's match-winning innings: 0

You get the idea. How can one say that matches won by Jadeja or Robin Singh will far outnumber Sachin's, I don't have the remotest clue.

On second thoughts, I think I can see how one possibly arrives at such conclusions. Jadeja and Robin Singh played at the end of the innings and their contribution seems important to those who do not understand the game. For people who do understand, it is clear that solid foundations at the top of the innings are equally important. Also, memory tends to do tricks on us. I mean, most of Sachin's innings quoted above are in the 90s (there are a sizable number of them after 2000 too) and one quite easily forgets that Sachin played simply amazing innings in 1994 against WI, or against Aus in 1994, or SA in 1996 etc.

I do see how one can think like that. But before making a statement in public, I would have thought it is good to check the actual record.

Satya, I can not say anything if you continue to blindly stick to your assumptions. Hopefully, these "facts" will make you think. Also, what was that about 98s and 99s! Do you mean to say, if one does not get out much in 90s, then he is selfish? What kind of logic is that? For the record, Sachin got out 9 times between 90-99, his highest in this range being 98 (of 75 balls) -- do you remember that match against Pakistan in world cup 2003? Incidentally that was a match-winning innings according to your definition, the next best score being 50 (by Yuvraj).

I have the greatest resect for Jadeja and Robin Singh. For the duration they played for India they were extremely important players.

For the record, Jadeja played 10 innings when he was the hightest scorer and India won, his greatest inning coming against SA in 99 when we successfully chased 302, through his efforts alone (he scored 92 and the next best was 42).

Robin Singh made 10 50+ scores in ODIs (9 50s and 1 hundred). India won only one of them. That was his greatest innings: 82 against Pakistan in Dhaka in 98, when we successfully chased 315 (at that time highest score ever chased). In that match Ganguly made 124 and Sachin gave the perfect start by scoring 41 in 26 balls.

All the numbers in this comment are only for ODIs. When I have time I will write a similar review of his test scores.


At 4:27 AM, February 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Decided not to take the pain of creating an account now, I am Debapriyo.
People who do not follow cricket attentively enough forget things very quickly. Then, the last impression only remains. Something similar has happened to Ganguly, for which his otherwise admirable career and high reputations as a captain and player are on the way to be lost because he did not know when to end, or was a bit too late to realize and rectify his batting. The fact that hs is looking a better batsman now with a changed stance won't do much good because he has lost all his reputation.

The same can happen to Tendulkar if he continues in this fashion for six more months. What Satya says is just a reflection of that. It is high time that Tendulkar seriously looks at what is wrong with his batting. It is clear that he has lost some reflex, he can no longer play some attacking shots like pull or hook (or he may be forced to stay away from those because of his injuries) and he looks simply vulnerable at the wicket. He has to adjust his technique or do something to change the situation. If he can, it is fine, otherwise it will be a shame if he plays on his old reputation. Being a hardcore Tendulkar fan, I would rather like him to retire than seeing him playing in this form till 2007 world cup.

Having said that, I can throw a lot of stats convincingly to support the fact that Tendulkar had not been record oriented in his career. He has slowed down nearing a 100 often, but not if that would have affected the team. Guys like Satya actually think that Tendulkar is god, if he wishes, he can make records. It is not so. Moreover, if Tendulkar is really record oriented, then he would love to score 15 more 100s quickly because he can smell Ricky Ponting catching him up in centuries very soon. Also, what makes him not trying to catch Lara's record of most runs? No man, Tendulkar is just a player, just one of the bests we have seen, but at the end, he is just a player. He is not performing now because he is not able to. He should seriously try to get things right and if he can't do that within a few months, he should retire before he becomes a real burden of the team.

At 5:00 AM, February 05, 2006, Anonymous Chetan said...

Well without meaning to be disrespectful towards Satya whose blog I follow regularly, I think you are being too charitable by calling this a discussion and all. I mean from my reading of it only you were presenting the arguments and the other side was merely indulging in ranting and shifting goalposts each time you countered the questions. The onus should have been on him to prove that Sachin plays for records. I don't know whether you have observed this. But I haven't met a single person in life who understands and follows cricket passionately and criticises Tendulkar like this. But you meet hundreds who follow cricket tentatively and have a strong 'opinion' about Tendulkar. This is why I took Kya yaar tu bhi's comment a little seriously about not poking nose in affairs one doesn't understand. I have said so in response to your comment on my blog.

At 5:46 AM, February 05, 2006, Blogger Krishna said...

Chetan, it is true that if one really understands cricket well and follows it, he/she would not make such statements. I met a few people who say these kind of things, but they are prejudiced, mostly as a result of a lack of proper understanding.


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