September 4, 2012

Indian cricket

What ails Tendulkar?

Aamod Desai
Sachin Tendulkar was bowled for 19, India v New Zealand, 1st Test, Hyderabad, 1st day, August 23, 2012
Tendulkar is too good to not notice the shortcomings in his movements, and there are plenty of wise men to suggest the desired corrections  © AFP
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Along with the statistics for India's win in Bangalore, you are likely to find special reports in newspapers and sports shows on TV on the way a certain Sachin Tendulkar has been getting dismissed, and quantification on his lack of three-figure scores for a year and a half now. Some will go a step ahead and suggest the man needs to hang up his boots. Valid facts and obvious consequent emotions, but where is the cricketing logic among all this, to rationalise the observations?

Ex-players like Sunil Gavaskar and Sanjay Manjrekar have suggested that age appears to be catching up with Tendulkar and that fast bowlers are trying to get him bowled or leg-before by bowling full, and his once above-the-rest hand-eye co-ordination is now at the level of most others. There is a certain basis to why these ex-players are suggesting reasons for Tendulkar's form and manner of dismissals, but unintentionally that has got almost every Tom, Dick and Harry discussing his technique, skill and ability, including those whose knowledge of Test cricket does not go beyond the numbers on the scorecards.

The expectations from Tendulkar are so high that every dry innings becomes a disappointment, a 50 or a 70 doesn't get elicit much of a reaction, a ton missed is equated to nervous nineties and a longish period of no hundreds (like the one currently) is correlated to age, impending retirement and lack of ability; and mostly this hasn't changed for the last couple of decades.

Before I start listing reasons for his lack of form and manner of dismissals, a disclaimer: these are just observations and I have no intention of making this go beyond that. Let us try and delineate the discussion around him getting bowled/leg before too often first. The year 2010 was probably the most productive year for Sachin in recent times; he was dismissed on 20 occasions in Tests during that period, which included 8 (40%) bowled (3) or leg-before (5) dismissals. The year 2011 had Sachin dismissed as bowled (2) or leg-before (5) on 7 occasions out of 16 (43.75%). His career stats read 110 bowled (51) or leg-before (59) dismissals out of 282 times he has had to walk back (39%). These numbers are indicative that the sudden series of 'bowled' dismissals shouldn't be more than an aberration.

Harsha Bhogle and Aakash Chopra have suggested that Tendulkar's recent dismissals have got to do with him looking to hit straight balls through midwicket. It's a fair point, which would indicate that his balance is falling over to the off side. Normally Sachin's on drives have a certain direction based on the balls' delivery points. His flick from off stump towards midwicket off a left-arm seamer is rarely fallible, while on-drives off right-arm quicks go along the virtual V-line or behind square if he times it late; but his dismissals in this series have been exactly the opposite. His balance in executing certain shots is looking as good as ever, the feet appear to move in sync with the weight transfer and hence the trying-to-hit-through-midwicket inference isn't complete.

Last year you saw him getting trapped lbw a bit too often; a possible reason to see him getting bowled so often this year, could be due to an alteration in his stance to keep the pad from getting in the way of straight deliveries. When you look at his recent knocks you will realise that he is struggling with form in terms of scoring the runs rather than touch, for certain patches in his innings are trademark stuff, if not better. The system appears to work smoothly and then suddenly it encounters a glitch.

It's said that batting hours in the nets is completely different from spending time in the middle and probably that is what is happening with Tendulkar. When you are in form the confidence that goes along with it takes care of certain unintentional movements, but when you aren't, a single glitch can keep recurring.

Tendulkar is too good to not notice the shortcomings in his movements, and there are plenty of wise men to suggest the desired corrections. For a young boy who loved the challenge of defending against a one rupee coin to improve his skills, it would be unreal to suggest that Tendulkar isn't concerned about the way he is getting dismissed; his reaction in Bangalore is pretty much self-explanatory. In a way the vocal criticism about Tendulkar is good - it will provide him with a fresh challenge and a few extra hours in the nets to iron out a rare flaw; just like any other challenge that he has loved to face all through his career.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Unninarayanan Kurup on (September 19, 2012, 10:28 GMT)

WE ALL KNOW THAT TENDULKAR IS THE GOD OF CRICKET.BUT AS WE SAW IN THE LAST SERIES VERSUS KIWIS IN THE TEST MATCHES TENDULKAR WAS BOWLED OUT THREE TIMES AND THAT ALSO CONTINUOSLY.IF A BATSMAN LIKE TENDULKAR IS BOWLED CONTINUOUSLY THREE TIMES I THINK HE IS NOT IN FORM OR HIS RETIREMENT AGE HAS ARRIVED.WE ALL LIKE TENDULKAR PLAY WHEN HE IS IN FULL FORM.MY ADVICE TO MR.TENDULKAR IS THAT IT'S TIME FOR HIM NOW TO QUIT CRICKET AND USE HIS MONEY FOR SOME SOCIAL WORK.

Posted by Rajesh on (September 7, 2012, 10:51 GMT)

SRT is the greatest of all times & there is no dispute over it.... But we are born mortals. Time & age catches up with all of us (apart from our politicians)& this is bound to happen with SRT as well. At the same time all of us have different abilities & strengths in terms of mental & physical to cope with such natural phenomena. SRT has proven over the years that he is far better than many of us in defying the age. Players much younger than him have already retired. He will know best when his time is up, the only thing I hope & pray is that when he retires he does so while his bat is still blazing away runs & he leaves the game with his head high. I also feel that it is also the duty of our national team to rise upto the occasion & take any pressure what so ever away from him so that he plays carefree cricket & enjoys the game in his last phase of carrier. I am sure he wants to & will come good again in the cricket field.

Posted by suresh srinivasan on (September 7, 2012, 10:28 GMT)

I shall play as long as i enjoy playing the game.......it should have been the other way around, don't you think so? I shall play as long as the spectators and fans enjoy watching me play! Well, Mr.Tendulkar, you are terribly wrong here.....You are what you are today b'coz of the people who made you a cricketing God and showered you with money and fame; the least that Tendulkar can give back is by calling it quits, atleast now!

Posted by Ritesh on (September 7, 2012, 8:46 GMT)

I am too small or an illiterate to comment on Sachin's technique. So lets not talk about it. About retirement,if only on basis of form if we are asking him to retire is wrong. He may not be the Sachin of past, but he has scored enough to stay in the team. In terms of scoring, he was behind Dravid in Eng and Kohli in Aus. No other batsmen were near enough. Yes his form has dipped against NZ. But I know he should retire for all these haters who keep on commenting on him. I cant even comment on his retirement because a legend who has played 20 years for his country delivering high standards doesn't need my advice. I am sure he has a plan and will come up with the decision very soon. May be before Aus Series in 2013

Posted by Mahesh on (September 7, 2012, 8:02 GMT)

It is no rocket science that he is getting bowled between the bat and pad because he is playing across. And If he narrows the gap between bat and pad he will fall LBW instead of Bowleds; that will be the only difference!

What is not explored by the author is WHY does he tend to play across? His once rich forte of strokes are disappearing fast and he is not very confident playing attacking strokes to decent deliveries and hence on full length deliveries he is looking to get the maximum by playing across and into the empty field on the onside.

Tendulkar's attacking strokes now are a few streaky strokes like the scoop over the slips, paddle sweep etc. which doesn't require as much timing and precision as the flowing drives and majestic pulls. His falling strike rate and increasing periods of subdued accumulation are all indication of his deteriorating stroke play. In my opinion he better retire now than later, otherwise we will remember him more a nudger than a stroke player!

Posted by baskar on (September 7, 2012, 7:14 GMT)

All greats keep saying that" sachin knows when to retire ", he has still so much of cricket lefet. Sachin himselves says he will play as long as he enjoys it.Tell me, which cricketer in the world does not enjoy playing cricket. Inspite of enjoyment, everyone left the game at the right time.Other politically reply, sachin knows when to retire. Which cricketer did not know when to retire. Indians always retire, when they are fired ( including Kapil, dravid, laxman, kumble etc ). The point is NO ONE is dared to fire Tendulkar. NOW the key point is " When tendulkar will retire".ONLY GOD AND SACHIN KNOWS. Rest can only argue and share his opinion.

Posted by kirk-at-lords on (September 7, 2012, 3:03 GMT)

"It is a matter of time ..." for everyone & everything. It was so when Sachin began at age 16 over 2 decades ago. Enough of cliches! The man still runs & fields like someone 10, even 15 years younger. He still outclasses most Indians in the field -- not really that hard to do, but still notable as the fielding improves with young guns Kohli, Raina & co. I remember Sachin having a batting crisis in 2004, when he deliberately put away the pull shot & scored 241* in Sydney against Aussie at their peak. What powers of discipline & concentration the Little Master has! Yes, his eye-hand coord. is declining like anyone's, but I am confident he will make a good exit at the death of his career. There are still steps to take -- sliding down the order, for one thing. And I have no doubt that spinners will still take a royal pounding at times. Even if he never hits well ever again, no one can take away his stats & what he has meant to Team India and world cricket.

Posted by Ash on (September 7, 2012, 1:06 GMT)

Someone said sachin is "just an ordinary player" now... Lets get to stats shall we... lets take since 2011

Virendar Sehwag Avg:28.90 Gautam Gambhir Avg: 28.87 MS Dhoni Avg: 31.95

Sachin Tendulkar: 40.04

Even Kohli averages 41.35

Am not saying sachin deserves to play on as long as he wants or sachin is as attacking as he used to be, but just logically you replace the person with the lowest performance and that's not Sachin... not by a long shot... if you have a top order with Sehwag and Gambhir playing they way they used to a few years back, pujara and badri/rohit/raina 2-3 series experienced and have the place cemented, then coming back to Sachin and asking for his retirement would be warranted...

Am not a Sachin Fan, Ive always felt hes been overhyped (respect his talent tho) but today if he leaves the next guy in is gonna be in a lot of pressure...

Posted by praveen kumar on (September 6, 2012, 19:17 GMT)

Whatever happened is gone already.Im damn sure he will come back stronger and make those criticizing mouths shut.Indian cricket must not lose him cheaply because he is the only most experienced player in the world and in india after the retirement of two other pillars dravid and laxman.So he must stay there and set an example for younger generation that old is gold and i bet he is.His passion towards test cricket has never faded.His next milestone is not too far.We have faith on u sachin.U will be praised again very soon.Just break those barriers and prove those critics that they are wrong.

Posted by Venugopalan on (September 6, 2012, 17:31 GMT)

I think there is a case for BCCI to intervene. They can prevail over other boards in this matter like in so many other instances. No one should bowl more than 60 mph to the SRT. Can consider a hi tech wheelchair later.

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