December 19, 2010

Sachin Tendulkar

Evolving Tendulkar remains India's best

Sambit Bal
Sachin Tendulkar walks out to bat after tea, 20 runs short of his 50th Test ton, South Africa v India, 1st Test, Centurion, 4th day, December 19, 2010
Sachin Tendulkar continues to improve his game 21 years after he made his debut  © Getty Images
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The way things have panned out in this Test it would seem nothing has changed. Another stirring hundred from Sachin Tendulkar is likely to be, barring a washout tomorrow, in a hopelessly losing cause. And once again, the personal landmark of India's favourite son will ease the pain of the failure of the team. Tendulkar's 50th hundred will make it to the front pages tomorrow while the story of impending defeat will remain in the back pages.

Of course many things have changed. India are no longer a one-man team. Whatever they have achieved in this decade, including reaching the No. 1 status in the ICC rankings, a feat unimaginable when Tendulkar started playing, is because they have had an outstanding bunch of players. But that he should, after 21 years, still be India's finest batsman in conditions that challenged all India batsmen, is almost as incredible as him getting to 50 Test hundreds.

In my memory it was John Wright who first spoke about 100 hundreds for Tendulkar. And he did it casually during a post-interview chat in February 2002. "It's down to him how he wants to bat, how much he wants to push the envelope," Wright, then India's coach, said. "I have told him he should go for 100 hundreds." It seemed almost fanciful then. Tendulkar's tally was 59 at that point, 28 in Tests and 31 in ODIs, and he was nearly 30. But nothing about Wright was ever fanciful; he must have known.

But could he have imagined that Tendulkar would have his most prolific year in international cricket eight years from then? There was time a couple of years ago when it seemed inevitable that Ricky Ponting will overtake Tendulkar both in career runs and Test hundreds. Ponting, a couple of years younger, now finds himself in an extended, and perhaps, unarrestable, decline, while Tendulkar has reeled off seven Test centuries and over 1500 runs since the beginning of the year with a Test to go.

Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to discuss Tendulkar's batting with two players who have played alongside him and count among the sharpest observers in the game. Sanjay Manjrekar pointed out how Tendulkar had managed to so tighten his game that he now had the best defensive technique among the batsmen he had watched. Rahul Dravid, who shares with Tendulkar the record for most century partnerships, spoke about his backlift. "It's amazing how he has minimised it and yet is able to generate so much of power."

So when you next hear Tendulkar talk about wanting to get better, he is not merely dishing out a quote. Unbelievably, he is still working on his game, and the runs are hardly a coincidence.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Janese on (September 6, 2011, 17:09 GMT)

Great stuff, you hpeeld me out so much!

Posted by Lurraine on (September 5, 2011, 16:25 GMT)

This information is off the hziool!

Posted by Deepak Rastogi on (March 31, 2011, 7:38 GMT)

Looking at the way things have gone, for India to win the world cup, Sachin should not score a century. There is this remarkable similarity to the 1983 world cup win in which India lost only 2 matches in which Gavaskar did not play. Though he hardly scored any runs , India won all those matches in which he played. Though Sachin has fared much better, the fact is that India could not win the 2 matches in which he scored centuries. So , let him get out in the nineties for India to win the world cup. On the lighter side , I think Indian bowlers don't rate Sachin very high. They seem to think that if he could score 100 then anybody could and end up losing the match. Murlitharan would be playing his last ODI & if Sachin decides to hang up his ODI boots , then it would be the grandest of spectacles, the cricket world has ever seen unless , of course, Sachin decides to complete 50 ODI centuries too.

Posted by Manoj on (December 22, 2010, 8:08 GMT)

Sachin you are GOD of cricket and you will be worshiped in the entire world for your dedication. I am sure ICC must have decided my now to honour themselves by giving calling you Sir Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

Is there is any other thing above Sir, I am Prof, Dean.. YOu are simply t he best Sachin

Posted by CRIC_RAJA on (December 21, 2010, 22:45 GMT)

Come on guys after enduring 20 years and making 50 test centuries u can not be critical of him. Maining over 50 after playing so many games is only one can dream off. @Madhu - he was moved from lower ordert to upper order after playing so many games or else he would have made 50 hundreds long before. Where ever he played he was the best in his business. The main reason to place him down the order is to install mental strength to the team. More often than not India collapse with out a fight after loosing his wicket.

Posted by Abhay Sundaram on (December 21, 2010, 20:03 GMT)

a) Tendulkar was the only thing between the opposition and a win. If India lost him early in a game, that would have put paid to India's chances of putting up any decent total. It was a decision the captains and coaches of the 90s took to keep Tendulkar at 4.

b) He did NOT come out and cry about the declaration. He was asked if the declaration surprised him given he was merely 6 runs away from his 4th 200, and he said yes, he was surprised. And the media ate it up and shat out something that can only be termed a giant exaggeration of the truth.

I hope these have ironed out the flaws you have in your facts.

Posted by G. Joshi, Delhi on (December 21, 2010, 14:59 GMT)

I totally disagree and abusive with Madhu who tried to blame th Press about positive writings on Sachin Tendulkar, the Master Blaster of the modern day cricket. Like Madhu, some others also tried to maline the emage of the Great Cricketeer by justifying that he is not a match-winner, he should not have protested against Dravid's decision of declaring the innings when Sachin was at 194* at Multan (Pakistan)on March 28, 2004. One should remember that it was only Day 2 of the 5-day match and there was no urgency of such declaration, but I should say a conspircy of Dravid (the make-shift Captain) and the rivalry/jealousy of Ganguli. Rember the foes (of Sachin, like Kapil Dev and Sanjay Manjerakar and many others, have since becme admirers. Non-cricketeers should stop adversely comment on "Th God of Cricket"

Posted by Baloo on (December 21, 2010, 12:22 GMT)

Madhu,

Dravid prevented Sachin to achieve another record of Making incredible 200 that to against Pakistan when he needed only 6 runs.No body would relish it.When he scores hundreds, it is not only for his records,it is mainly for the Indian team.It is not his fault when other players fail.SACHIN is praised not only by Indians but also by all the International greats including Pakistanis like Miandad.

Posted by nair ottappalam on (December 21, 2010, 10:28 GMT)

@ Harsh Thakor. Complete agreement with your second para. Tendulkar has scored more centuries, more runs, and has appeared in more international game than anyone else. Yet he cant equal the likes of Bradman to that extend. The qualities of Lara or Richards or Sehwag. The Aussies fear Sehwag more than any other Indian batsman. As far as class is considered, the most classy Indian batsman ever is G R Viswanath and in the present era it is Dravid. Unfortunately, Dravid is an unsung hero. Dravid is of no doubt the GREAT WALL OF INDIA.

Coming back to Tendulkar, his achievements are so phenomenal that no one in the current day cricket is going to reach anywhere near it. Two years ago Ponting had a neck to neck race with Sachin. The age factor had given Ponting an advantage. But Sachin has gone miles ahead of the Australian skipper now and Ponting doesn't have the remotest chances of reaching anywhere near Sachin.

Posted by sujay on (December 21, 2010, 9:39 GMT)

amazin performance from him..let's hop he keeps going..the only batsman who looked comfortable on that deadly centurion pitch on the first day..that just shows his class..:)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sambit Bal
Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.

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