March 22, 2006

India

Waiting for GOTOT

ESPNcricinfo staff

No it is not a typo. It is not meant to be Godot, but GOTOT.

Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett about two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, waiting for someone named Godot. Who exactly Godot is, why they want to meet him, etc is never revealed. The repititive plot just has the two tramps conversing, and waiting for Godot, who incidentally, never turns up.

Waiting for GOTOT is a "play" that has been in progress for almost 17 years now. GOTOT stands for "Grand Outstanding Tendulkar-Owned Test".

For years, Tendulkar's fans have been waiting for him to decisively and unarguably stamp his authority on a test match, a test match which will forever be remembered as his own. Several batsmen in the Indian time have "owned" their own test matches.

Laxman owned Calcutta'01 Dravid owned Adelaide'03 Sehwag owned Multan'04

Tendulkar however, the greatest batsman of them all, has yet to play a test innings which, in terms of content as well as context, be so outstanding that it will forever be recalled with awe. For years now, Tendulkar's fan expect that every time India is in a spot of bother, he will come and "silence his critics" for once and for all. However that one defining test knock is yet to come.

Chennai'98 despite being special, was just not huge enough at 155. Chennai'99 ended in a losing cause. Chennai'01 again lacked the size, and was also overshadowed by Harbhajan's heroics as curdled by a second inning failure. The double against New Zealand was in a draw and again curdled by a second innings failure. The doubles against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh were....well...against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. The 193 at Headingley came after Dravid and Bangar set things up. The 241 at Sydney just lacked content and was a highly neutered innings.

Sachin fans(including me) may often come to his defence in this regard but at the bottom of their hearts, they know that he has not produced that trump card which they can use to good effect in any argument.

He has owned several one-dayers. The one at Sharjah, the one against Pakistan, the one at Hyderabad to name a few. But it is test cricket whose history is hard-bound. ODI history is always paperback.

We keep waiting for GOTOT not unlike Vladimir and Estragon, without realising that the odds of GOTOT coming are very less. There was once a time when Tendulkar was counted as one of the unluckiest batsmen. Umpires seemed to make their worst mistakes against him, and fielders seemed to pull off their best catches against him. Bowlers invariably produced deliveries of their lifetimes when they faced Sachin.

Yet of late, whenever a potential GOTOT opportunity has presented itself, more often than not Tendulkar has been dismissed due to his own mistake. Today, he gave his wicket to Shaun Udal, an almost-has-been who has been around for as long as Sachin has, but has hardly played a handful of tests. In Karachi a few weeks back, he got out to Abdul Razzaq, who certainly would not find a spot amongst the top 10 Pakistani seamers of all time. In Bangalore last year, he was dismissed by Afridi in both innings.

It is no secret that Tendulkar's powers are on the ebb, physically speaking. Even his technique is faltering. Until a couple of years back I would happily enter debates against people who said Dravid had the best technique in the Indian team. I always maintained that though Dravid is technically very sound, he is not as good as Tendulkar when it comes to execution. Recently however, I would let such a debating opportunity pass. The frequent gap between bat and pad, the playing away from the body, the frequent lapses in footwork... this just isn't the same man anymore.

Of course, it is not like his technique has completely gone sour. By and large he seems to stick to it. But the mistakes are just too common by his standards.

From all angles thus, it looks very likely that the best of Tendulkar is behind us and though I would certainly not join the ridiculous and idiotic chorus of "Endulkar" and ask for him to be dropped, it is clear that waiting for GOTOT is going to be no different than waiting for Godot.

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Posted by Rajesh on (April 16, 2006, 22:08 GMT)

Hey guys, am a new entrant here, but am a religious follower of cricket, speaking abt Sachin, he was too good to start off with and there was a period when the whole team depended on Sachin. Hats off to him, he carried that burden for a long long time and had to carry along with a team that was highly volatile and vulnerable. Now is the period when the team does not depend on Sachin as much, but he is surely past his prime. I am just wondering, what if we had this kind of a team when Sachin was at his prime, we surely would have got a match owned by Sachin.

Posted by Angshuman on (March 30, 2006, 15:57 GMT)

Righto Marcus - it was in the return (Australian) leg of the Aus-SA rivalry that the you-hit-wicket-I-smash-panes incident happened. That series was a closer affair though - in fact the closest that SA got to not losing a Test series to Australia since Alan Border's last Test.

Posted by marcus on (March 29, 2006, 9:37 GMT)

Again, Kartikeya, you do make a good point. Obviously the players at the other end make a contribution-although I was under the impression that the "hit-wicket" incident was in another match.

Posted by Feroz Faisal Dawson on (March 29, 2006, 9:31 GMT)

I wish I could watch Tendulkar's 169 and Azharuddin's century and Mark Waugh's 116 and Pak's Test win in 97-all against S. Africa and their Superb Pace and Medium Pace bowlers with you guys, Marcus and Kartikeya.. Their bowling now is a far cry from what it used to be. I mean Jacques Kallis is still bowling , so is Pollock, very sad, very sad indeed. What would they give for a Brett Schultz or a Fanie De Villiers right now? By the way, Pak's attack does not look too hot right now in Sri Lanka..(sigh)

Posted by Angshuman hazra on (March 29, 2006, 7:47 GMT)

Rejoice, Indian fans, for the GOBOO [Grand Outstanding Bhajji-Owned one-dayer] is here after a long wait.

Posted by Kartikeya on (March 29, 2006, 6:03 GMT)

Marcus.. its an example of a great innings. However, it is important to note that the other players stood at the other end (and Waugh himself had that famous hit wicket incident) until victory was achieved.

Contrast that with say Tendulkars 136 (made out of 248 runs scored by India while he was at the wicket, in a run chase), and while Tendulkar was not at the wicket, India effectively lost 5/10 in that Test innings.

Now tell me.... if it is "single-handedness" which is being assumed - which is more single handed? Tendulkar coming in at 6/2 and going at 254/7, having made 136 of those 248, or Mark Waugh coming in at 30/2 and making 116 out of 228 runs before departing at 258/6?

Waughs runs came against Donald, Mcmillan, Cronje, Adams and Kallis. Tendulkars runs came against Wasim, Waqar, Saqlain and Mushtaq.

The resemblance is almost uncanny. Australia got the 13 runs required after Waugh was dismissed, while India lost 3/4 after Tendulkar was dismissed to lose.

So i dont know which was the most singlehanded effort. If anything the comparison makes the case for teamwork rather than individual brilliance.

Take Lara's brilliant 153 at Barbados. Its the same story. Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh stayed with him for 70 runs or so. Lara was dropped twice by Healy in that game as well.

Tendulkar was missed once by Moin Khan.

You could give many examples of individuals "owning" Test matches, however, none of those make a relevant case - The point made by Gaurav has some pretty fundemantal flaws. Its based on a basic misunderstanding on the nature of cricket as a team sport.

Posted by Feroz Faisal Dawson on (March 28, 2006, 9:26 GMT)

Marcus, as Angs knows Mark Waugh is my all time favourite Batsman; and I have mentioned Mark Waugh in 97 in S.A as one of my cricket "tatoos", there are exceptions to the rule of course. If Ponting scores a 100 in both Innings, or Inzy or Lara bat superbly in the 2nd Inngs, or Botham takes 5-fer and hits 149, sure they won those Tests, yes they did. My point about the article is that you do not have to say Tendulkar has not "owned" a Test, compared to Laxman, Dravid Sehwag; just say that Tendulkar has failed in the second Innings too often (recently) to Save or Win Tests, I think that's clearer and more to the point. A Great Batsman should be able to save or win a Test once in a while, more so a Genius. Long Live Junior !! (and Inzy, too ! )

Posted by marcus on (March 26, 2006, 23:27 GMT)

Feroz, I take your point, but how about Aus vs. RSA at Port Elizabeth, 1997? Australia had to make 270-odd on a bowler's pitch (only one other man had passed fifty) when Mark Waugh made 116 and Australia won by two wickets. (I know this for a fact; I just checked it this minute.) Now if that's not an example of someone singlehandedly winnig a test, I don't know what is.

Posted by Feroz Faisal Dawson on (March 26, 2006, 7:11 GMT)

Test Cricket is all about partnerships; batting or bowling. Off the top of my head only Greenidge, Miandad, Gavaskar and Richards come to mind as players who could win a Test Match on their own. A Five day Match is too complex for one man to own..that's why there are stumps at both ends I guess.

Posted by marcus on (March 24, 2006, 12:01 GMT)

Kartikeya, you do have a point. Something more- would Botham's Test have been Botham's test had Willis not taken those 8 wickets? If England had lost there, it shouldn't take anything away from that innings.

Speaking of which, that was only something like 149 Botham made, so you don't have to be a double centurion to own a test either.

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