THE CORDON HOME

BLOGS ARCHIVES
SELECT BLOG
October 3, 2011

Cricket books

True bravery and faux bravery: A little primer

Samir Chopra
Shoaib Akhtar and Sachin Tendulkar exchange words, India v Pakistan, 4th ODI, Gwalior, November 15, 2007
Courage is the ability to overcome fear, not the absence of fear  © AFP
Enlarge

RELATED LINKS

I have not read Shoaib Akhtar's autobiography, and given the current prioritization of my book-buying budget, it is extremely unlikely I will buy a copy (I might borrow a friend's copy for a chuckle or two though). I have, however, heard a great deal about this particular literary production, because some passages in it, and the reaction to them, have served to highlight a very common confusion about the notion of courage.

Unless you were a cricket fan denied any access to media over the past week or so, you know that Akhtar allegedly penned a few lines in which he suggested that Sachin Tendulkar might have been, shall we say, a tad apprehensive when facing Akhtar. You would also know that a fit of outraged reactions to these sacrilegious lines has resulted in book-release events being cancelled and considerable ire (to put it mildly) being sent Akhtar's way.

I have read the offending lines and they seem rather mild to me. But let us suppose that Akhtar had written what his most fervent critics imagined him to have written. Let us, that is, imagine Akhtar had written something along the following lines:

Many people think Sachin Tendulkar is the greatest batsman of all time. But I always thought he was a coward. Whenever he faced fast bowling, he was scared; I could see it in his eyes. His legs were shaking, his eyes were wide with fear; he never, ever liked playing fast bowling.

Does that sound suitably damning? Does that condemn Tendulkar as a lily-livered chicken with a yellow streak "lacking moral fibre"? (And would that correspondingly, make Akhtar into a true mensch, one capable of reducing grown men to a quivering mess?)

I don't think so. My reaction to reading that particular set of lines would be roughly something along the lines of "Wow, what a brave man. Even though he was scared witless by fast bowling, he kept on playing top-level competitive cricket for twenty years, and managed to score 99 centuries and some 25,000 runs. What a mensch! He knew he was going to keep on facing fast bowling and yet he kept on putting himself into an intensely uncomfortable situation. Gee, I wouldn't do that for a million dollars".

The problem here is quite simple. Akhtar imagines that by pointing out evidence of fear or discomfort in the face of physical danger, he has impugned someone's courage (and correspondingly patted himself on the back for being able to induce that fear; similarly, I suppose someone threatening another person with a deadly weapon might feel very brave). Those reacting to Akhtar suffer from the same confusion. But courage is not the inability to feel fear or the absence or fear; it is the ability to master felt fear.

An inability to feel fear when facing a threat that can cause serious injury or death does not indicate bravery; it merely indicates a neurological disorder, a dysfunctional apparatus that does not do justice to our evolutionary heritage. True courage or bravery is the ability to overcome that entirely rational fear and to overcome it in order to achieve the objective at hand. A little reading of memoirs penned by mountaineers, military heroes, and adventurers of all stripes might convince those who imagine that a brave person is some sort of automaton who blithely and idiotically subjects himself to danger. We respect these men and women because while they feel the fear that all of us do, they are able to get over and on with it.

I have no desire to face fast bowling at the top-levels of cricket. And even if someone told me that I could wear pads, helmets, gloves, chest and elbow guards, and count on facing spinners and 'medium-pacers" occasionally, I would still not do it. I took high school physics and I'm perfectly capable of carrying out the calculations pertaining to impact forces generated by a cricket ball; what those numbers can do to human cartilage and bone is a little gruesome. Any man that can put himself into a situation where he might have to encounter them has my respect. He should have Akhtar's too.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

RSS Feeds: Samir Chopra

Keywords: Cricket books

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Deepesh on (November 18, 2011, 13:02 GMT)

Well said samir although akhtar or any pakistani (includes Imran Khan) has no right to say anything to Sachin Tendulkar..... while he has been winning India worldcups he has be doping and disgracing his country( as if pak can be a bigger disgrace!) He is God and is better than any other player dead or alive and certainly better than 'AALOO'period

Posted by MMK on (October 12, 2011, 7:53 GMT)

@ All Indian Fans. I cant beleive people are still commenting on this! Samir has already posted another article!!!!

As a Paki I have to intercede and say that anyone who doubts Sachin's greatness is off their rocker! I find it disconcerting that very few cricket fans respond on this web-site - no cricket fan can consider ST, Punter, Lara etc to be not-great! I find too many responses colored solely by nationalist sentiment and not by intellect.

Regarding Shoaib's book, I believe that his objective was solely to make money (hence the high-profile launch in India as opposed to Pakistan), and just to ensure sales he decided to add some controversy to the book. Looks like its working for him, even if he will be eternally hated by Indians.

Please refrain from the mud-slinging. And before I forget, Samir has already written another article - move on with life!!!

Posted by Jaytirth on (October 10, 2011, 3:31 GMT)

@Posted by: Gerry_the_Merry at October 7, 2011 10:31 AM

Clever Jaytirth...not mentioning the last three tests (played in India, 2004-05) including which the average of 36 is computed against the full strength Aussie team for Tendulkar over 9 tests. ------------------------------------------------------------- My post was related to matches when Mcgrath played in the Aussie team. Since you are quoting Sachin's averages in 2004-2005 series, let me tell you that Ricky Ponting's average was 3.4 in 2001 series .

Posted by Rana Mudassar Khan on (October 9, 2011, 17:21 GMT)

People have got their knickers in a twist yet no one has read the book! lol.

He actually said in ONE GAME tendulkar with an ELBOW INJURY was apprehensive against him.

People with little to their credit like Vilas Rao and the FOX inspired element of the indian media have gone dolally.

If any one is making money from all of this apart from Shoaib it is his INDIAN PUBLISHER.

Why let truth get in the way of a good story?

Posted by naresh on (October 9, 2011, 12:31 GMT)

@ibrahim: "Hell even ponting is better than him you know why? because he actually won matches for his team"

just how many of his hundreds have won matches since warnie and pidge left? probably one against the ...cough..."mighty" windies. YEAH right on.

@osama: "And imran khan calls inzamam great because 19 of his 25 test centuries were in victories"

what was the bowling attack like in those matches? was it tahir naqqash leading the attack or was it wasim-waqar? (and here I refrain from talking about ball tam.....well never mind)

@IG: "Now on the other hand - Ricky Ponting - 5 WC's played 4 finals played, 3 WC championships. You see what I'm talking about here? Quality is not rubbish and it doesn't need one-eyed supporters either."

yeah - it doesn't. now open both your eyes wide and look at the teams your dear punter played in. and whatever happened to the great punter in 2011? oh.....the poor chap was missing gilly/mcgrath/warne/haydos/...

Posted by Sachal on (October 8, 2011, 12:35 GMT)

Good Article. Shoib's book takes jabs at everyone, even in Pakistan cricket , like Wasim Akram and Jawed Miandad. Shoib was always all talk , I mean he publicly stated he was better than Waqar and Wasim. Well my friends his figures didnt show it. So his taking a jab at Sachin doesnt mean anything, he knows to get in the news , he has to either perform on the field (which he couldnt do many times in his prime also) or perform for the media, he chooses the easier route. The more attention you give him the more you encourage him so start ignoring him and he will sulk like a baby. Tendulkar's response is the best answer to his antics, lets follow him. (by the way I am a Pakistani)...Cheers

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (October 7, 2011, 10:31 GMT)

Clever Jaytirth...not mentioning the last three tests (played in India, 2004-05) including which the average of 36 is computed against the full strength Aussie team for Tendulkar over 9 tests. Fine. Let us ignore this. Do only cherrypicking. Still, a very unremarkable 48 in those 6 tests (approximately). I bet Laxman averaged more, but then, we are already being selective about data aren't we...

Posted by Anonymous on (October 7, 2011, 3:55 GMT)

@IG - Better a muppet than a pig that is pig-headed. And frankly, I am flattered. :)

Posted by Jaytirth on (October 7, 2011, 1:47 GMT)

Posted by: osama at October 6, 2011 7:50 PM @ max : you keep mentioning all the hundreds that sachin has. no one is denying that sachin is a prolific run getter. but the fact of the matter is that after lara ( who unfortunately had a poor WI team to work with) tendulkar has the most centuries in losses . And imran khan calls inzamam great because 19 of his 25 test centuries were in victories. -------------------------------------------------------------- Lara had Walsh, Ambrose, Bishop with him. Sachin had srinath and V Prasad. Inzamam had Wasim and Waqar with him. Which bowlers do you think could get 20 wickets in test?

Posted by Jaytirth on (October 7, 2011, 1:35 GMT)

@Posted by: Mon at October 6, 2011 7:29 PM It is Indian people who always insult great like Bradman, Sobers, Viv, Lara, Ponting and try to rate them bellow Tendulkar with their big mouth. ---------------------------------------------------------------- I have lived in India all my life and followed cricket almost religiously. I have never hear or read anyone criticizing bradman, viv least of all Lara. I am myself a bigger fan of Lara because of his style. When Bradman died, 'The Times of India' carried the news on the front page. Ponting may have got booed as Australians indulge in sledging. What I do see is the fact that many Australians, Pakistanis and English cannot digest the fact the an Indian may be regarded as the greatest batsman. So the frequent references to a very few instances of failures. Sachin has played cricket for 22 years and it is but natural that he failed sometimes.

Posted by Anonymous on (October 7, 2011, 1:34 GMT)

@Posted by: Mon at October 6, 2011 7:29 PM It is Indian people who always insult great like Bradman, Sobers, Viv, Lara, Ponting and try to rate them bellow Tendulkar with their big mouth. ---------------------------------------------------------------- I have lived in India all my life and followed cricket almost religiously. I have never hear or read anyone criticizing bradman, viv least of all Lara. I am myself a bigger fan of Lara because of his style. When Bradman died, 'The Times of India' carried the news on the front page. Ponting may have got booed as Australians indulge in sledging. What I do see is the fact that many Australians, Pakistanis and English cannot digest the fact the an Indian may be regarded as the greatest batsman. So the frequent references to a very few instances of failures. Sachin has played cricket for 22 years and it is but natural that he failed sometimes.

Posted by IG on (October 6, 2011, 22:18 GMT)

@Jaytirth..contd. - well you don't really have the right to feel insulted (disappointed maybe), considering you're not contributing anything on the field of play. There's no personal insult if one set of professionals are defeated by another, no matter how highly you rate your favourites. All said - I stand by my word, and I don't suffer fools very well. @Samir and moderators - Thanks for letting my comments see the light of day - much appreciated.

All other personal insults, will be duly ignored (thanks AKP) :)

-Enough said on this article...

Arrivederci IG

Posted by IG on (October 6, 2011, 21:59 GMT)

@Jaytirth - Mate, I did accept the 50 avg. thingy (right after my comment that you have quoted - I certainly stand corrected). Why're you comparing him to Ponting though? No one deifies Ponting. And no country's politicians take offence to someone dissing him either. And no country asks for book promotions to be cancelled if some author criticizes him. But mate, do check Tendulkar's record against Donald and Bond. Its fun :)When did I say anything about Ponting's century anything anything? Oh and you're saying that you're happy to lose every match in a series as long as someone gives tendulkar the MoS award? Sorry to say, but you have rather poor standards. Not sure if you'd keep your job if you keep having such poor standards at work, but then things work differently in different places. I'd rather win all the matches even if your chums win all the MoMs. And mate, I don't care about what makes you feel more insulted. Considering that you're sitting on an armchair, you really..contd

Posted by Jaytirth on (October 6, 2011, 19:56 GMT)

Posted by: IG at October 5, 2011 8:03 PM Oh yeah the 2011 final- Wasn't Tendulkar out for like 15 odd? He was sitting cooling his heels for the most of it and if it wasnt for Dhoni and Gambhir he would have ended his career without a WC win. ------------------------------------------------------------------ If Sachin had not played in Semi-Finals against Pakistan it would have been a bigger insult than losing the finals. Ricky Ponting scored the century in quarter finals for his record sake and not for the team. Australia lost because he scored a century. See, how rubbish that sounds?

Posted by Anonymous on (October 6, 2011, 19:54 GMT)

and guys please come up with a better argument than an upper cut for six. shoaib bowled him with his first ball in international cricket. Shoaib got the better of sachin on atleast 10 other occasions on flat sub continental pitches which gives shoaib akhtar to right say what he wants about sachin tendulkar

Posted by osama on (October 6, 2011, 19:50 GMT)

@ max : you keep mentioning all the hundreds that sachin has. no one is denying that sachin is a prolific run getter. but the fact of the matter is that after lara ( who unfortunately had a poor WI team to work with) tendulkar has the most centuries in losses . And imran khan calls inzamam great because 19 of his 25 test centuries were in victories. and as far as runs go alan border was the leading run getter in test cricket for a good decade but i dont think any one would call him a better batsman than say viv richards. Runs dont matter its when you get them that counts.

Posted by Jaytirth on (October 6, 2011, 19:49 GMT)

@Posted by: IG at October 5, 2011 8:20 PM Only in your dreams has Tendulkar averaged 50 in any Test series he's played against McGrath. Infact I challenge you to look at his figures in matches he played against McGrath, Donald and Shane Bond. -------------------------------------------------------- These are Sachin's averages against Mcgrath India in Australia 99/00 - Average 46.33 ( atleast 2 controversial lbw decisions) Sachin was the man of the series though India lost 3-0

Australia in India 2000/2001 - Average 50.66

I don't find them in any way low considering Ponting averages 26 in India.

After checking this I did not bother to check for averages against Bond or Donald.

Posted by Mon on (October 6, 2011, 19:29 GMT)

Jaytirth said I don't mean to belittle the greats. I only want to show how easy it is to pick some instances of failure and project any great cricketer negatively.

hi bro...... people of outside of India never mention tendulkar's failure when comes to the point of his greatness, it is Indian people who always insult great like Bradman, Sobers, Viv, Lara, Ponting and try to rate them bellow Tendulkar with their big mouth. At first respect others then you indian guys receive respect. Remember you cant always buy everything from money.

Posted by Ludwig Wittgenstein on (October 6, 2011, 19:29 GMT)

You may not have the money to buy Shoaib's book, but a good library should have Hemingway's 'Death in the Afternoon'. Borrow it and read it. There you will find a great author's seminal exploration of bravery, or the lack of it, when repeatedly facing mortal threat, as bullfighters do many times a week. He calls it grace under pressure. What is it like? Go on youtube and watch some of Jose Tomas's bullfights. It's not controlling fear. That makes poor bullfighters at best. It is the ability to hold fear in suspense or if you like temporarily disregard it altogether. Anyone who faces Shoaib or some other similarly fast bowler is doing the same sort of thing. Was Tendulkar afraid? Almost certainly so. But, was he able to hold this fear at bay for long enough to choose the right shot? Yes. again. And so were many other top batsmen who faced him with any success whatsoever.

Posted by jaytirth on (October 6, 2011, 19:12 GMT)

@Posted by: IG at October 5, 2011 8:20 PM -------------------------------------------- Tendulkar was the man of the series in 1999 India tour of Australia. Mcgrath was a part of the Aus team. India lost the series 3-0 so an Aussie could have got the award. Now don't tell me Sachin played well only to get the award and not for victory.

P.S: The statistics don't show the incorrect lbw decisions against Sachin in that series.

Posted by Jaytirth on (October 6, 2011, 17:50 GMT)

Ricky Ponting is Harbhajan Singh's bunny. He failed miserably in the 2001 India tour. Lara played only for himself in the WI-SriLanka tour and though he scored heavily WI lost the series 3-0. Lara did not play in the crucial 1996 Aus-WI semi-final. Shane Warne, England's nemesis, was tossed around like a doll by Indian batsmen. The great Mcgrath could not get out Laxman and Dravid for an entire day in the 2001 series and Australia lost the match even after enforcing a follow on. Mcgrath failed to deliver when it mattered the most(the final frontier). Viv Richards threw his wicket in 83 WC and WI lost the cup never to gain it again. Had he batted more responsibly he could have turned the match. I don't mean to belittle the greats. I only want to show how easy it is to pick some instances of failure and project any great cricketer negatively.

Posted by Jaytirth on (October 6, 2011, 16:39 GMT)

If Tendulkar had not scored against Eng in WC11 India may not have qualified for quarterfinals. If he had not scored a half century against Australia in quarters we would not have played against Pakistan. If he had not scored 85 ( to be fair, thanks to Pakistani fielders) we would not have reached the finals. Do you expect Sachin to play in each and every match? Sorry! you are following a wrong sport. Ricky Ponting scored a century but Australia lost the quarter final. I don't hear anyone saying that Ricky played for himself and is not a match winner. Pakistani fielders dropped catches in a important match. I don't hear anyone saying that they are not match winners. Viv Richards threw his wicket chasing a small target in 83WC. WI lost the cup. I don't hear anyone blaming Viv and saying he is not a match winner. Sachin inspired a nation to win the world cup.

Posted by IG on (October 6, 2011, 14:32 GMT)

@AKP - You're my all time favourite muppet :)

Posted by AKP on (October 6, 2011, 13:42 GMT)

All I can say is this IG guy is pig-headed. Sachin is human-headed. Shoaib is...also human-headed but with a loud mouth. Nobody is God though.

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (October 6, 2011, 12:56 GMT)

GD - I am delighted that tendulkar fans are fighting so hard, against such odds. If only Tendulkar himself had shown such fight in England (of course, when the odds were insurmountable and the matches came off the boil e.g. India 5 down for 50 in the second innings chasing 479 etc., then we saw the best of him).

GD - Ponting scored 5 centuries in 6 matches against South Africa in 2005-06. Against England, in 2005 (stronger bowling than now) he was the lone batsman, averaging ~40.

From your comments, it is evident that you blank out anything done by anyone else except tendular.

Finally, worthless though they are, my comments seem to have raised the BP of tendulkar fans. Something amiss...

Posted by Kaze on (October 6, 2011, 4:02 GMT)

Tendulkar has always been mediocre it's just that Indians like prancing about the Emperor in his new clothes

Posted by Nerk on (October 6, 2011, 0:49 GMT)

Akhtar is probably right people, Tendulkar probably was scared. But that doesn't make him any less of a batsman, nor does it make him a coward. Bob Simpson probably said it best, anyone who says they truly enjoy facing fast bowling, real fast bowling, is a liar. And I have no doubt that any batsman in the world would be frightened of a ball going at 160kph. But Tendulkar never took a backwards step, never has against any bowler, and that courage is the source of his greatness, and the greatness of any brilliant batsman.

Posted by Shashi( From Universe) on (October 5, 2011, 20:55 GMT)

Hi Guys, I respect your all comment about " SOME Idiotic Paragraph" by SHOIB, yaar Khuda pAk ki, Likhne se pahle soch liya hota....Sale AApne Bap se sikh leta to aaj kuch terA BHALA hOTA ..:) 10DULKAR HE IS NOT ONLY god hIS IS gOOD humAN BEing..CHAL SHOIB TUJHE MAF KIYA..KUCH KAMA LE..budhape ME kaM AAYENGEN..:)

Posted by IG on (October 5, 2011, 20:41 GMT)

@ GD - ok mate he did average 50 in one series. I grant you that. My bad...but the rest of the stuff is still horrifyingly true ;)

Posted by IG on (October 5, 2011, 20:20 GMT)

@GD - Sorry mate, didn't realize that its you who gets to decide who's opinion matters (yours) and who's doesn't (Gerry's). Sounds a bit lame to me. Only in your dreams has Tendulkar averaged 50 in any Test series he's played against McGrath. Infact I challenge you to look at his figures in matches he played against McGrath, Donald and Shane Bond. The numbers aren't pretty, dare I say 'ordinary' ( a word Sehwag reserves for Bangladesh cricket)? Oh and while you're at it, check his records against McGrath and Donald while playing in India itself. Warning! Numbers are very graphic in nature and not for the weak hearted Tendulkar fanboy. @Gerry- love your insights on Ananth's blog. I'm backing you mate..keep up the good work.

Posted by IG on (October 5, 2011, 20:03 GMT)

@Hari - Pakistan is not mine. I've never been there and have no intentions of doing so either. So your argument falls flat. I am just an unbiased observer stating facts which you cannot refute. Comparing it with football is equally stupid. The football WC has 32 teams in it, along with 160 odd others who try to qualify. So, the magnitude is nothing in comparison. Don't insult the great football players with your ill-conceived analogy. Oh yeah the 2011 final- Wasn't Tendulkar out for like 15 odd? He was sitting cooling his heels for the most of it and if it wasnt for Dhoni and Gambhir he would have ended his career without a WC win, inspite of having played in more WC's and WC matches than any other player. Now on the other hand - Ricky Ponting - 5 WC's played 4 finals played, 3 WC championships. You see what I'm talking about here? Quality is not rubbish and it doesn't need one-eyed supporters either.

Posted by Hari on (October 5, 2011, 15:11 GMT)

@IG... he certainly handled WC pressure against your Pakistan (as high as it gets) not once but almost every time. He's played 5 games, India have won all 5, and Tendulkar has been Man of the Match 3 times. He has been the highest run scorer in a World Cup --- the equivalent of Football's Golden Boot -- 2 times (1996 & 2003), and 2nd highest scorer once (2011). An astounding feat! And each time India performed extremely well (SF in 1996, Runner-up in 2003 and Winners in 2011).

Posted by GD on (October 5, 2011, 15:01 GMT)

@Gerry - Tendulkar still averages 54 in England, despite a poor series. Ponting, Mark Waugh, etc. from your "greatest top order" are all still way below him. And just last year, Tendulkar scored 4 centuries in 5 Tests against Steyn, Morkel & co.; how many Aussie batsmen (or from England or anywhere) have managed that sort of a return against them? Lastly, Tendulkar averaged 50 and 46 in the 2 proper Test series (at least 3 Tests) he played against McGrath & Warne, with 2 centuries & 5 half-centuries; despite the numerous poor decisions he suffered down under. (Anyway, your opinion hardly matters; the Don's mattered; and the celebration by Warne or McGrath when they managed to get Tendulkar out mattered)

Posted by GD on (October 5, 2011, 14:48 GMT)

@Gerry_the_Merry - The WI top order of the late 70s, early 80s were superior to Australia's under Waugh. Come to think of it, they were superior to Australia in all departments except spin and keeper's batting. But they would still have beaten Australia 7 times out of 10.

Posted by Max on (October 5, 2011, 14:42 GMT)

@Ibrahim... if a man with 84 scores of 80+ in Test and ODI cricket that led to team wins isn't a mtch-winner, then I don't know what a match-winner means. FYI, Lara only had 8 Test centuries (out of his 34) that led to WI wins; and that too when WI were the top Test side till 1996, and still very difficult to beat till 2000. After 2000, Ambrose, Bishop, Walsh were all gone, so they hardly won, despite anything Lara did.

Posted by Ibrahim on (October 5, 2011, 12:27 GMT)

well the pakistani media didnt cry and ran to the pcb when sehwag said "baap bap hota hai or beta beta". I didnt see any indian saying that whatever sehwag said was his own fantasy. And everyone has their own personal favs. If shoaib didnt like sachin so what? why are you guys so possesive? And the bean headed people who said that he was a mediocre bowler should really leave cricket alone. He got sachin out 10 times out of 17. Viv,lara,bradman,dravid,gavasaker are miles miles ahead. Hell even ponting is better than him you know why? because he actually won matches for his team. And its true that sachin was/is not a match winner. I admit that is a great player but he's not the greatest.

Posted by Aditya on (October 5, 2011, 10:00 GMT)

@Gerry_the_Merry - And what do the two hundreds in S. Africa against the best new ball pair of Steyn and Morkel on tougher pitches than those in England tell you about the same player? There are great batsmen who have been exposed on flat pitches of India against mediocre Indian bowling attacks. (Cue: Ponting.) Worthless argument, basically.

Posted by MMK on (October 5, 2011, 8:45 GMT)

@SunnyG: Lets not confuse Shoaib's comment with Paki sentiment.

Posted by MMK on (October 5, 2011, 8:41 GMT)

Before we damn Shoaib as a "lilly-livered coward", we should consider the following: "True courage or bravery is the ability to overcome that entirely rational fear and to overcome it in order to achieve the objective at hand."

Objective: Make a buck or two now before people forget that I once was a very promising fast bowler (who eventually had a mediocore career peppered with a few flashes of brilliance).

Strategy: -Write a controversy laced autobiography; they always sell (look at Gibbs!) -Include controversial remarks about Indian cricketers to rile up Indian public and penetrate that market.

Rational Fear: Saying anything negative about Sachin would incite an outburst of anger, effigy-burning, and life-long loathing from outraged Indian fans and 'experts'.

By Samir's definition, what Shoaib has done is intelligent and BRAVE - his remarks are not accurate, but they will cause him to make some retirement-money.

Oh, and the article was very well-written

Posted by Jaytirth on (October 5, 2011, 6:57 GMT)

@Posted by: Kunal Talgeri at October 3, 2011 4:52 AM --------------------------------------------------------- Sachin scored his maiden test century in England followed by a century in Sydney and Perth. This was somewhere in between 1990-1992. I wonder what made Barry Richards say that in 1997. Imran is a nationalistic politician. So he rating an Indian higher than Inzamam would be unthinkable. Sachin has scored a half century against Pakistan in every world cup encounter except WC 1996. India ended winning all the matches. He scored 194* in the historic Multan test. He was the man of the series in 2003 world cup. So I don't know what else is a crisis situation. The Pakistan batting collapsed for 135 in 1999 World Cup. By your logic, I don't think any Pakistani batsman in that team deserves to be called a match winner.

Posted by Michael Pollock on (October 5, 2011, 5:08 GMT)

Can't remember who said it off the top of my head, but it went "None of us like facing it, just that some show it better than others.". NO-ONE who puts his body behind the line at top level can be called a coward, no matter what else you might call him. BTW, so what if Shoaib bowled the fastest ball of all time? I saw it, and it was full, slightly outside leg, up the line of the pads of the left-handed batsman, who played and miseed without danger, the ball hit his pad and ran away square for a leg-bye. On the other hand, may I say (as an Aussie pining for the days when we could beat England) that songs of Tendulkar will be sung into the distant future of the game. Surely the Indian side of the late 1990's were the best batsmen IN THEIR OWN CONDITIONS in the world at the time: Navjot, Shastri, Dravid, early Laxman and Tendulkar, no 6 who cares...great batsmen. Great memories.

Posted by IG on (October 4, 2011, 21:13 GMT)

@naresh - ohhh, sure he didn't get hit for six first ball. But he did get bowled first ball, middle stump knocked out (Kolkata, circa 1999)! And was also out 3rd ball in the first over of the WC game against Australia in 1999 (crunch game) and out again in the first over of the 2003 WC final. Pressure very well handled indeed.

Posted by Omar Zia on (October 4, 2011, 19:10 GMT)

Tendulkar is a great batsman and Shoaib is one of the fastest bowlers ever.(that is a fact no one can deny that he didnt bowl 161khr a record that hasnt been broken till now) They have both provided great matches great rivalries and great drama ..whether it be the world cup or the faislabad tests.but all in alll they are just two different people who really spice this game up...so just live with it and move on and pleez focus on the positive points other than the 1 or 2 negatives

Posted by soumik on (October 4, 2011, 11:05 GMT)

why was this article even written? the author did not read the book. so he made up some lines he thought might be in the book. and then based on that he puts forward an argument which silly mountain dew ads had put forward in a much more entertaining manner. what was the point of this article?

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (October 4, 2011, 5:00 GMT)

Shoaib has timed his book brilliantly. Tendulkar's reputation has been badly damaged after being exposed as a weak player against top class bowling in England. Shoaib Akhtar may not have as many wickets as McGrath, but in his pomp was a terrifying fast bowler, nowhere more so than against Australia in Colombo test, when he blasted out the finest top order in history all by himself on a dead pitch.

Tendulkar will savage Trent Copeland in Australia. So his fans (who by now should be used to praising his success against mediocre teams and ignoring his average of 36 against the full strength Australian team / Pak team etc.) should not despair.

Posted by VKFan on (October 4, 2011, 4:21 GMT)

As the ad goes, "darr ke aagey jeet hai": Beyond fear lies victory. Sunny Gavaskar has also said often that anyone who claim he isn't afraid of short-pitched fast bowling is lying. Those who can conquer it nevertheless are truly special.

Posted by naresh on (October 4, 2011, 3:06 GMT)

@yusuf - no Sachin is not my God. he is an outstanding cricketer. perfectly human, but outstanding.

And he does not go around barking in streets like a .....well never mind.

ohhh - and he did not get hit for six first ball. you know who got hit (boo hoo you). says a lot of about WHO handled pressure and WHO did NOT. comprendez?

Posted by Anonymous on (October 4, 2011, 0:53 GMT)

Shoaib is just a maniac and an idiot. Period

Posted by Aina on (October 3, 2011, 22:09 GMT)

@Freddy_Rules: Which Pakistan have you seen? Pakistanis are so annoyed at Shoaib's off-field behaviour they forget his on-field achievements. I always say I admired his bowling, but never that I appreciate it when my country's name is blackened by him or anyone else. All this argument merely proves the obvious: Shoaib is a good bowler and a highly flawed character; OFCOURSE tendulkar would have been an idiot NOT to have been even occasionally scared of a 100mph bowler, AND Tendulkar's fans take offence at having his lack of stupidity pointed out.

Posted by Aina on (October 3, 2011, 21:21 GMT)

It is true that I am a Pakistani and a great fan of Shoaib Akhtar, primarily because he was a test match winner, as showed up by statistics. Nonetheless I think I can point out an error in this article. First you said Shoaib's actual words are mild (for which I believe you, not having read the book), and then you presented a hypothetical paragraph written by Shoaib, ON THE BASIS OF WHICH, you say. "Akhtar imagines that by pointing out evidence of fear or discomfort in the face of physical danger, he has impugned someone’s courage..." How come you can infer his motives from that imaginary paragraph? Apart from that, I understand his psychology a little since reading an interview given to a cricinfo correspondent. He didn't do it to annoy Tendulkar fans. He just boosted his own ego. The PCB does a good job of battering any ego the players have, and someone like Shoaib was bound to respond to that with his perpetually controversial ways, not that I condone his off-field behaviour myself

Posted by Sharatchandra Bhargav on (October 3, 2011, 20:57 GMT)

I disagree with people who think Tendulkar can do no wrong. I disagree with dignitaries like Deshmukh demanding an apology from Akhthar, and thus proving to be sycophantic in the truest sense of the word.

Having got that out of the way, Akhthar may have painted a true picture of one instance when Tendulkar was indeed probably scared because of Akhthar's speed. Who wouldn't be if you are having a 100mph ball "thrown" at you? However, he seems to be totally remiss in not mentioning some of the great knocks that Tendulkar has subsequently played against him.

Ultimately the truest test of a sportsman is consistent performance over a period of time. And the truest test of an opinion that is remembered is balance. Akhtar seems to have neither, either in his career or in the opinions in his book.

Posted by Gaur on (October 3, 2011, 20:05 GMT)

@manan - It's not fair to call Akhtar a mediocre bowler. When he was younger, he was as quick as Lee and swung the ball (in-swing) even more (although he admits that he tampered with the ball, which should reduce his rating to an objective mind). He trailed off and did not finish as a great bowler, and was often fighting with his team-mates. But he was fast and furious in his hey-day (although ball-tampering and steroid use erode his standing in the game even more).

Posted by SunnG on (October 3, 2011, 19:30 GMT)

To, all Paki supporters. Remember that what this idiot wrote does not matter. Sachin is still here and he is revered no matter where he goes. And who remembers Shoaib now? A faux-prima-donna, always working his back off to get attention and need Indians mercy to get some food on table. So, if he was such a great player that the rest of the paki fans here seem to think, why did he have to launch the book in India? I think even an idiot like him knows about Pakistan in general and accepts he needs India/Indians to bail him out!!! LOL!! Talk about hypocrisy. Who cares? Sachin is a damn good player than Shoaib can ever dream to be. So, relax. It is a known fact that no matter how good Sachin is, some idiots like that Kunal guy, will always question him. It is in the blood of Indians. The DNA will never change and we will always have trouble accepting greatness of our own, without resorting to these sadistic rituals of posting utter trash like this. Jai ho.

Posted by Vinish on (October 3, 2011, 18:54 GMT)

If a "common man" makes an announcement on radio - *I saw sun setting in South yesterday and I know that it will set in North today*, will we all run outside in evening to see where the sun sets?

No, because we all know the universal truth. So, lets ignore the announcement.

Posted by manan Joshi on (October 3, 2011, 18:09 GMT)

Excellent article. Akhtar was mediocre bowler (and records are there to prove) and Brett Lee was far better than him as a fast bowler and Sachin played effortlessly against Lee on Australian surfaces. Means, how can he have problem against mediocre Akhtar on so called sub continent flat pitches. Even Akram told that a 16 year boy who was playing easily to him, waqar and imran, can easily play mediocre bowler like akhtar.

Posted by Yusuf on (October 3, 2011, 17:38 GMT)

@naresh......And Tendulkar is your God! right? OMG!

Posted by naresh on (October 3, 2011, 16:20 GMT)

Samir,

I cant believe you gave any credit to Akhtar by even making a mention about it here. Come on - the guy is just dissed that when it comes to Sachin, only thing that anyone will ever remember is THAT first ball six. poooof....finito. besides, the guy is trying to sell a book.

and as for what I think of Akhtar: he was just a chucker on steroids. (hey, free speech and all that, OK? ;).

Posted by Freddy_Rules on (October 3, 2011, 16:10 GMT)

I've read quotes from this book. The thing that amazes me is that very few in Pakistan seem to condemn Shoaib Akhtar for claiming that he and other Pakistani bowlers tampered with the ball all through their careers (as a way of life, in fact). Similarly, there was little outrage when Akhtar tested positive for steroids earlier in his career. I'm afraid I don't comprehend how the Pakistani people can condone so much. I wonder if perhaps that's why Asif and Amir had no qualms about their misdeeds?

Posted by Gaur on (October 3, 2011, 15:53 GMT)

@IG... I guess if you still don't comprehend it, there's no point in further attempts to clarify. But no, I wasn't talking about the "Acknowledgements" page or copyright! :)

Posted by Dharmender Chaudhary on (October 3, 2011, 15:13 GMT)

Sir,i read that book,it is totally a nonsence autobiography that one like to read but also comment a lot Akhtar was not like him as like in the book's controversy.

Posted by Srini on (October 3, 2011, 14:55 GMT)

Well written article laying down the psychology of both fast bowler and top order batsman. Even if true, it is only natural for any batsmen to be concerned about his physical well being, despite wearing all protective gear, and fear of failure early in his innings. One must remember Sachin is only a human being, not a machine and Shoaib was an unpredictable top class fast bowler.

Posted by Max on (October 3, 2011, 14:29 GMT)

One funny thing I'm noticing is that even if somebody mentions the factual achievements of Tendulkar, he is branded a "worshipper" and accused of "deifying." I mean it is a fact that he has achieved 99 international hundreds, and that he has 84 scores of 80+ which have contributed to Indian victories in international cricket. Do you have to be a "worshipper" to respect another man's excellence?

Posted by IG on (October 3, 2011, 14:28 GMT)

@Gaur - Sorry, it's getting a bit redundant here, but I don't know what you mean by 'acknowledgement'. I am sure there must be a page in his book titled 'Acknowledgements' in which he must have mentioned certain players. It's not that he was playing cricket because Tendulkar and Dravid allowed him to and so he should acknowledge them. Is that what you want him to do? And why does his being Asian have to do with anything? Also if he really thinks that they weren't that good, then why should he acknowledge something he doesn't agree with? Or will you be happy if he says 'Tendulkar and Dravid played cricket.' We all know that already!! As far as creating buzz is concerned, well its not that he made up stories of playing against them. He actually did play against them, so their presence in his writing is as incidental as is his own. Or are you suggesting that by mentioning their names, he has committed some sort of copyright infringement? Sorry, but I really don't understand your grouse.

Posted by Gaur on (October 3, 2011, 14:04 GMT)

And @IG, neither Tendulkar nor Dravid is my God. They are very much human, and are capable of having poor series. They have had lots of good and great series too. [PS: Yes, Tendulkar and India had a poor series in England. But both had a very good overseas series before that in South Africa, not to mention all of 2010. And yes, McGrath got the better of Tendulkar in 1999 and 2003... no worries... he was a great new ball bowler, and he had a big score to defend. At the same time, Tendulkar walloped him in the 1996 WC while chasing a stiff target. That's the way it goes...ups and downs, both. Drop in form due to tennis elbow or other injuries doesn't negate all the high points that came before and after]

Posted by Gaur on (October 3, 2011, 13:39 GMT)

@IG... kindly clear your mind and read again. I (actually even most of the others above), have not deified anyone in our comments. And I never suggested that Akhtar should deify anyone either. I had asked for fairness and decency... not deification. Akhtar can boast about the time he got Tendulkar or Dravid out... no problem. But then he should also acknowledge the great performances by them against his team (if not against other teams)... especially when he uses their names to create buzz about his book (aptly named "Controversially...") and launches his book from India. Akhtar, being from Asia, could at least have acknowledged the massive amount of pressure that cricketers from this region (including Tendulkar and Dravid) are subjected to (by fans, media)... and how difficult it is to play with that sort of pressure all the time. No deification required... only professional acknowledgement.

Posted by IG on (October 3, 2011, 13:06 GMT)

@Gaur - Mr/Ms. Gaur, haven't you had enough of every Tom, Dick and Harry weaving hyperboles to praise Tendulkar? Why do you want Akhtar to throw the same platitudes? Why should he? Why should anyone? Aren't you even a bit disillusioned as to how your deity was made to look humanly ordinary throughout the English summer? Why are you so disturbed if someone wishes to tell his side of the story? If you can, try and get some footage of that 2006 test series. You'll notice how even Sanjay Manjrekar while on commentary concedes that Tendulkar had been well and truly rattled by Akthar. It was also a defining moment for a lot of impressionable younsters I knew, whose very image of Tendulkar had changed drastically after that confrontation, not to mention crucial WC failures against Australia's Glenn McGrath (1999 and 2003).

Posted by IG on (October 3, 2011, 12:51 GMT)

Samir, to put an article through after conceding that you haven't actually read the book and that you are basically basing it on what the media has alleged about what Akhtar has said and implied is rather flimsy. To turn it into an episode of 'man vs wild' or man conquers fear is quite a hyperbole. The lad's a professional cricketer, plays it for his livelihood. If he starts having the same limp-wristed reactions to fast bowling that you might have, then he'll need to start waiting tables. As expected most of the comments blindly deify Tendulkar while be-littling Akhtar, except for one @Kunal Talgeri - Sir, you've said it so accurately and succinctly, and I dare say, understood the real gist of what Akhtar's alleged accusation might be about. Hats off to you!

Posted by Masud on (October 3, 2011, 12:41 GMT)

Let us imagine that what Shoaib said is true/correct. But Sachin never ran away from Shoaib. He faced him with utmost courage and sent him over the ropes numerous times. On the other hand Shoaib faked injury and left the field many times when the batsmen started hitting him. So decide your self who is timid? Sachin or Shoaib.

Posted by Gaur on (October 3, 2011, 12:29 GMT)

Well said, Samir, well said. The thing that annoyed me most about Akhtar was that he launched his book from India (not his homeland) so as to maximise his (& his publisher's) revenue stream, and still did not have the decency / grace to acknowledge the achievements of the Indian cricketers he mentioned (and leveraged to create publicity for his book) in games he played (if not other matches). No acknowledgement of Dravid's 270 against his side (India won), or Tendulkar's stunning 98 in the 2003 WC (India won), or his 141 at Rawalpindi (chasing 330...India lost, but it was a close contest). All these games featured Shoaib. But no... all he wrote in his book was 2 of your most respected & cherished batsmen were not matchwinners, and 1 of them got scared by me on 1 occasion. And then he comes to India to launch his book and mint some Indian money. What an admirable man!

Posted by chin_music on (October 3, 2011, 10:59 GMT)

Absolutely agree - feeling no fear when in physical danger only proves complete lack of imagination; conquering the fear & reamining at your post is where the courage part comes in. However it's not just Akhtar/Afridi etc who do not have the mental capacity to understand that - all the rabid Sachin fans stopping the book release functions etc are also basically of the same ilk as M/s Akhtar/Afridi, just a different stripe.

Posted by Rauf on (October 3, 2011, 10:27 GMT)

The problem here is that with most Indian fans, cricket starts and ends with Tendulkar. Even a mildest form of criticism towards Tendulkar is greeted with extreme anger.

Tendulkar is a great batsman, no doubt about it but he is also a human and humans cannot be perfect all the time and neither is Tendulkar.

Posted by Max on (October 3, 2011, 9:24 GMT)

Good piece Samir. A person with the courage to face Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Imran Khan at the age of 16 doesn't need another bravery certificate from anybody. (PS: They didn't have helmets with vizors in 1989. A Younis bouncer even hit Tendulkar in the face, and drew some blood. But the youngster carried on his innings. And he is still carrying on just fine...)

Posted by Max on (October 3, 2011, 9:22 GMT)

A person with the courage to face Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Imran Khan at the age of 16 doesn't need another bravery certificate from anybody. (PS: They didn't have helmets with vizors in 1989. A Younis bouncer even hit Tendulkar in the face, and drew some blood. But the youngster carried on his innings. And he is still carrying on just fine...)

Posted by Uttam on (October 3, 2011, 9:09 GMT)

Very Nice article... Totally agree..

Posted by Yasir Hasan on (October 3, 2011, 8:44 GMT)

Shoaib has got what he wanted throughout his career, over-hyped attention of everyone. No one takes the person always on self destruct button, seriously in Pakistan even. About the fear, yes batsmen have some bad times, but they have good times as well. Dravid scored 270 in Rawalpindi against Shoaib (when he allegedly faked the injury). Similarly, how can Shoaib forget Sachin world cup 2003 inning... in Shoaib times it was Sehwag show all the way no doubt, but he didn't have imposing results against Sachin and Dravid either...

Posted by Jayanth on (October 3, 2011, 7:07 GMT)

Very nicely written article Samir. More than this being a joke, it is the reaction of 'dignitaries' like Vilasrao Deshmukh as they demanded apologies from Shoaib Akhtar for 'demeaning' Tendulkar.

Your last 2-3 paragraphs brilliantly capture the overcoming of frailties and reaching the pinnacle. We do it daily in our life - it is not noticed that easily though.

These sort of loose statements are only put to obtain a few inches of publicity space. Gilchrist did it, Hayden did it - they are in no way different.

As a 'philosopher' once said, opinions are like ar#$%@#$%. Everybody has them.

Thanks for the illuminating article.

Posted by MM on (October 3, 2011, 6:33 GMT)

Well said Samir. As goes an old saying, 'The person who has no fear is either an idiot or is dead', none of which can be said about Sachin. Every sportsman fears something or the other. It's how they overcome their fears which defines them. Saurav Gangula used to literally run from bouncers, yet, he managed to get along nicely.

Posted by Jaytirth on (October 3, 2011, 6:09 GMT)

After Sehwag's 'Baap baap hota hai, aur beta beta!' comment it was only expected that Akhtar would hit back someday.

Posted by Kiran on (October 3, 2011, 5:57 GMT)

Perfect. It would be good if Shoaib also reads this.

Posted by Ravi on (October 3, 2011, 5:53 GMT)

Samir, this is a very scientific and hence logical view of the situation. Thanks for putting this view across. By reacting to Shoaib's words, people are doing a great disservice without appreciating what it takes to upper cut a ball coming at 150 kmph for a six over third man. The feet may be trembling but the hand and eyes are still firm.

Posted by Giri on (October 3, 2011, 5:41 GMT)

Rightly put and very logical. Any one who got hit with cricket ball in a good match can tell you th epain is terrible. To come back and play and do good after that takes more than guts sheer will power and determination. I remember getting hit on my thumb in nets without gloves by a medium fast bowler it was excruciating. I still played and batted, bowled but fielding was a night mare every time the ball hit that finger without gloves to protect it made me want to run away. so my respect for every one who got injured and came back to play is enormous. Sachin Dravid Gambhir every one deserves that respect which only mindless unintelligent people will not have.

Posted by Santosh John Samuel on (October 3, 2011, 5:10 GMT)

Excellent, blunt and to the point. Too much is being made of what Akhtar said. It's natural for every batsman in the line of a genuine paceman to feel an extremely heightened sense of being. With hardly a reaction time, the eye, mind and body need to be insanely focussed -- if that's fear, so be it. And anyone willing to take on fast bowling, or grind it down, or put body in line deserves our respect.

Posted by Kunal Talgeri on (October 3, 2011, 4:52 GMT)

Shoaib's lines (and the expected/calculated hyperbole) are not about courage or fear. In the past 13 years, Indians have developed a fanatical feeling that Tendulkar should not be criticised, or touched. It is a product of two decades of promos and image building by marketers, as much as the infinite public-praises of Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri. In 1997, Barry Richards stated that Sachin is yet to be tested beyond the sub-continent and Sharjah. (At the time, tours to Australia were infrequent.) Imran Khan forever likened Inzamamm to Tendulkar--in a crisis situation, Inzy was something else. And when Chappelli talked about Tendulkar taking a good look at himself (and his game) in the mirror, circa 2006, fanatics' mouths frothed. Manjrekar's harsh-but-neutral perspectives on Sachin too have been condemned. To my mind, Shoaib's lines again test the hyperbole around Tendulkar -- a reality check, to make us wonder if Tendulkar's class is for real. It's liberating to question gods.

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samir Chopra
Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He runs the blogs at samirchopra.com and Eye on Cricket. His book on the changing face of modern cricket, Brave New Pitch: The Evolution of Modern Cricket has been published by HarperCollins. Before The Cordon, he blogged on The Pitch and Different Strokes on ESPNcricinfo. @EyeonthePitch

All articles by this writer