January 7, 2012

Australia v India 2011-12

The Sachin v Don debate

Andrew Hughes
A spectator is taken away by a security staff, Australia v West Indies, 3rd ODI, Sydney, February 12, 2009
It isn't widely known that the combination of alcohol, sun and cricket makes a person smarter than George Bush at a world environment forum  © Getty Images
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Wednesday, 4th January Catching up with old news today, I came across something I’d missed just before the holidays. It was a piece of work by an Australian economist. Now, normally speaking I’d give no more credence to the analysis of an economist than I would to the man who predicted that the world would end last May or to the theory that all the major nations are secretly ruled by moustachioed reptiles from another planet.

This is because, as far as I can tell, economics is about as scientific as water divining, creationism or the sticking-a-pin-in-the-sports-pages method of betting on the horses (a method which, coincidentally, is very popular in Wall Street stock-trading circles).

But this economist wasn’t banging on about the usual mumbo jumbo; fiscal restraint, quantitative easing and suchlike. He was talking about something that really mattered: namely, whether or not Sachin Tendulkar or Don Bradman was the best.

Now I know this is a subject that can get some people lathered up and I have generally steered clear of it. As a neutral, it has often struck me that to wade into this particular squabble would be as foolish as intervening in a fight between two angry cats. Unless one of the cats happens to be yours, it’s sensible to leave them to it.

But economists are made of sterner stuff. The plucky chap had decided to settle things statistically by using mechanisms called “opportunity cost” and “supernormal profit”, which sound like horrendous torture devices designed to torment undergraduates, but which, when applied to the facts, told him definitively that Sachin is best.

And who knows, perhaps he is. But there is one statistic that refuses to go away, the enormous iceberg in the water that threatens to sink the pro-Sachin argument. 99.94. If you rate Sachin’s undoubtedly splendid average of 56.03 as the more impressive, then where does this leave Hammond, Headley, Sutcliffe, Hutton, Ponsford, McCabe and all the others who were utterly dwarfed statistically by the Don?

And if he benefited from fewer opponents, easier pitches or the absence of post-match interviews with Mark Nicholas, then how was it that not one of those other fine players of legend were able to benefit from the same conditions and all trailed in his wake statistically, like little boys trying to keep pace with a marathon runner.

But, perhaps, before we take these findings too seriously, we need to know more about the record of the man responsible. Specifically, we need to know whether this particular economist predicted the credit crunch and the global economic crisis. And if he didn’t, then perhaps we need not worry too much about his cricket analysis.

Thursday, 5th January Whilst I don’t often feel sympathy for the lot of the professional cricketer, I feel compelled to defend Mr Kohli. I didn’t see the incident live but one Indian channel helpfully provided a photograph of his Sydney gesticulation, with the naughty digit deliberately blurred to spare our feelings. Or perhaps there’s something intrinsically offensive about Virat’s middle finger? At any rate, we got the picture.

Now, of course, in the normal run of events, a professional on duty should not be doing such things. And yes, we spectators are not mere cheerleaders; we pay our money and we are entitled to air our views, even if we slur some of the words.

But if you aim abuse at a fellow human being, then you should expect abuse in return. If you or I were to approach Virat in a shopping mall and, from a distance of a few yards away, shout that we thought his hair looked silly, that he can’t throw for toffee and that his mother’s tea was undrinkable, we should expect that he may want to come over and offer us the benefit of his opinion.

So why do some people think that the possession of a match ticket, a t-shirt with a witless slogan and a large foam finger exempts them from the normal rules of civilised society? If I had any money, I’d happily pay Virat’s fine.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by S V Mohan on (January 16, 2012, 13:15 GMT)

Bradman was bradman and Sachin is Sachin. Both are great. No doubt about it. whether Don was greater or Sachin was greater - well it is only for eyeballs and media hype. Surely Don did not ask whther he is greater or Sachin. Likewise Sachin also never said he is bigger than Don. Peole may say 1000 things about Lara, Kaillis etc but the fact remains that Sachin has scored more runs, more centuries tahn anybody else so far. That's a record nobody can steal. Let kallis, Lara etc score so many runs and then be compared. I think it is only his skin color that is making people jealous. Having said that India itself boasted some better batsmenthan Sachin G.R.Vishwanath, Dravid and VVS. They were legends in their own right. Far more dependable batsmen than Sachin ever could be. It is sad that age has diminished the reflexes of Dravid the wall and Very very special VVS.

Posted by EngCric on (January 10, 2012, 18:10 GMT)

Ok Guys,

Enough of this comparision without putting facts; world expert are not calling Tendulkar great among current generation and past generation just based on test cricket; looks like everyone here in discussion missing big records and impact he has on 50 over format....or may be intentionally ignoring to prove their point, who can come close to him in 50 over format? and now if you combined both then it is Himalaya for anyone including Don Bradman......

So stop fulling yourself by just judging him based on test cricket...

Enough said.

Cheers

Posted by waterbuffalo on (January 10, 2012, 4:29 GMT)

India's problems will be all over if they open with Dravid and Gambhir, build a solid start, then put Sachin in at 3, he is in decent form, then stick Kohli at 4, then R. Sharma at 5 and Sehwag at 6, all you drop is VVS, for Sharma, Dhoni at 7, and four bowlers. Problem solved, have a proper opener who is defensive opening, that is Rahul Dravid. Put Sehwag where he belongs, at 6, he can open against weaker teams , not against strong teams in tough conditions anymore, even his big score was courtesy of 3 lives. Wake up, India! Good Luck! (if you follow my suggestion)

Posted by mohankumar on (January 9, 2012, 12:38 GMT)

It is very unfair to compare batsman of different era. DON is the greatest as his statistics are too compelling to suggest otherwise. However, there a few areas in which Sachin scores very highly over Bradman. 1. The pressure of being SACHIN can be understood only if ur either living in India or have played here for some time. It is PHENOMENAL. Cricket is as much a game of the mind as it is a game of skill. Judged against this standard, the factor sachin gets a huge bonus.2. The injuries suffered by sachin, specially the elbow would have resulted in severe technical adjustments; a slightly lesser batsman would have gone under. 3. The analyses carried out by opponent coaches are extraordinary today. 4. Don never faced neutral umpires or television replays or hotspots or trackers.There is no doubt that sachin is the greatest player of this era, taking the above into account; Whether he is the greatest? lets put it this way- who would not love to have both in his side!!!

Posted by Yusuf on (January 8, 2012, 17:50 GMT)

In the final analysis, it has to be about the matches you won for your team as cricket is a team game. If someone co-relates big Sachin scores with India wins, it should prove that Lara, Ponting, Miandad, Sanga, and particularly Inzi and of course the Don, stood up for their teams when it counted most.

Posted by pandimi on (January 8, 2012, 16:56 GMT)

Both Sachin and Roger Federer are products of media and a lot of chatter by fans. Neither is the best player of his own era. I wonder why some people think they are best players of all time. Their longevity and the ability to sustain increased match days per year need not be taken into account. We should also discount the array of strokes they possess which can't be statistically measured in any case. Does it matter that they bring people across the globe to watch them ply their trade? I personally believe that sportsmen have no business being role models. Whether these two manage to keep their nose clean publicly should never be taken into account. These two deserve to be shamed by citing how they have failed on numerous occasions. Failed to be at very top, that is.

Posted by Rakim on (January 8, 2012, 16:25 GMT)

**Don Bradman** Best of all times. How can you possibly debate that Sachin is better than him. Players like Lara, Viv, Ponting, Inzi, Miandad are way better than Sachin.

Posted by Arvind on (January 8, 2012, 14:10 GMT)

I completely agree with the fact that Sachin has faced infinite times more pressure than the don.and i agree with terry, sachin has been much more prolific.As of the best batsman of this era, its Sachin Tendulkar above all else. Kallis might be a fine allrounder, but his batting prowess is nowhere near sachin's, look at his recent pair!!

Posted by Dakar on (January 8, 2012, 12:38 GMT)

Those who say Bradman played only against one or two teams, think again! Harsh conditions for a batsman all round: grassy pitches in Eng! Hard bouncy tracks in Aus. Mostly rained on uncovered pitches, flat strok-less bats n heavy grass outfield. Today cricket is all in fav of batting, fm rules to conditions, no big deal then if many hv runs and hundreds more than Bradman. When someone will score 30 test tons in 52 matches, I will compare him to Bradman. Question u must ask urslf: if it was all so easy for Bradman, why no one else could do it till date? U answer this question honestly, u hv a true comparison. I hv met SRT n no doubt he is the most humble cricket legend I hv ever met, certainly not the best batsman!

Posted by Luke on (January 8, 2012, 11:15 GMT)

Predictable most people have gone for talking about the Sachin vs Bradman debate. As if there could be anything in cricket less subjective and less interesting.

I just wanted to post in support of your comments about Virat. As an Australian cricket fan I was absolutely disgusted by the behavior of the people who heckled Virat and would have been happy to give them a smack in the face on his behalf. We were there to watch two great teams play a game we all love, not insult visitors to our country. Just pathetic.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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