March 21, 2014

The Tendulkar-Brearley conundrum

The stereotype of the hero-worshipping Indian fan ignores evidence that seemingly skewed fandom is also present in supposedly more rational settings
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Mike Brearley's Ashes success in 1981 has formed the basis for uncritical appreciation and biography
Mike Brearley's Ashes success in 1981 has formed the basis for uncritical appreciation and biography © PA Photos

A little while ago, in a tribute to Shahid Afridi, Osman Samiuddin wrote:

"… what struck me most about Tendulkar, much more than his batting, was his status as an unqualified hero. In Pakistan I always felt - and loved the fact - that we consider heroes to be a figment of the imagination, a whimsy of the privileged in a hard, mean world. Using Jinnah, the Bhuttos, and the Khans, Jahangir and Imran, to illustrate this tendency, I argued that Pakistan didn't, or couldn't, have the kind of hero Tendulkar was."

I think Osman falls prey here to a common affliction in Pakistani writing about India: the urge to distinguish Pakistani identity by distancing it from an Indian one - no matter how facile the distinction. Here it takes the form of suggesting Tendulkar enjoyed the status of an "unqualified hero" in the Indian imagination. (Osman does not explicitly name India or Indian fandom, but it is implicit in the claim above; certainly, much as Tendulkar might be admired elsewhere in the cricketing world, he isn't a hero anywhere but in India).

But Tendulkar never was an "unqualified hero" in India; if he ever had any such standing it was, all too often, in the eyes of those who wrote about him from afar, who saw in his following a convenient and glib representation of India's apparently unhinged devotion to cricket and cricketing heroes.

Tendulkar's status as a hero in India, to Indian cricket fans, was always qualified in some manner or the other. Many Indian fans were capable of mounting eloquent critiques of his batting in Tests, his captaincy, his often-rigid preference for batting positions in ODIs and Tests, his relationship with the BCCI, his delayed retirement, his caginess with the press, his acceptance of the Rajya Sabha nomination, and a host of other issues. Some of the most vigorously contested flame wars on the internet took place between those Indian fans who did regard him as God Incarnate, and those who didn't. It has become almost commonplace to suggest any criticism of Tendulkar would be met with a fierce avalanche of criticism from Indian fans. But much of this ire was directed at other Indian cricket fans who had dared to be critical of Tendulkar. And there were, I repeat, many.

The suggestion that Tendulkar's fan following in India was blind to all his faults always seemed a carefully constructed and unbalanced representation of the Indian fan, one that contributed to the Indian fan being viewed in the cricketing world as essentially irrational, devoid of sporting sense, sophistication, and subtlety and committed to the blindest forms of hero worship (or its flip side, irrational dislike of sporting figures). There were elements of all of this in Tendulkar-fanhood but they were not its only components. To describe it as such is to do injustice to a very varied group.

If Brearley had been a subcontinental captain, his record would have been dismissed out of hand, and indeed made the subject of much derisive commentary

Such a view of Indian fans and fandom ignores evidence that seemingly skewed hero worship is present elsewhere, in supposedly more rational and balanced settings. Consider, for instance, the admiration directed at Mike Brearley, whose legend - as captain and man-manager and psychologist rolled into one - only seems to grow by the year, carefully cultivated in a constant hagiography that often appears curiously blind to his actual playing record.

Brearley's central claim to fame is victory in a famous Ashes series, ranked as one of the greatest of all times, featuring incredible comebacks by the English team, one in which exceptional individual performances by Ian Botham and Bob Willis propelled an English side to a pair of improbable wins. These results were achieved at home, against an Australian side fatally racked by internal dissension and player cliques directed against the captain Kim Hughes. The Aussies were a house of cards already weakened from within, waiting for a puff to blow them down. Brearley's team supplied it.

For the rest of his captaincy career, Brearley led England to a pair of Ashes wins: the first, a 3-0* result at home in 1977, against another Australian side playing in the shadow of the Packer controversy (England 3-1), and the second, a 5-1 win in Australia in 1978-79, against an Australian side considerably weakened by the absence of their Packer players. Brearley also led England to wins against New Zealand (3-0 at home in 1978) and Pakistan (also Packer-depleted, two Tests away drawn in 1977-78, and 2-0 at home in a three Test series in 1978) and then later, in the 1979 summer, against India (1-0 in a four-Test series; at home again). Interestingly enough, when he led England against a full-strength Australia side in Australia in the 1979-80 Ashes That Weren't, England promptly lost 0-3 in a mini-whitewash.

If Brearley had been a subcontinental captain, this kind of record would have been dismissed out of hand, and indeed made the subject of much derisive commentary. One shudders to think of how an Indian or Pakistani captain might have been regarded had he possessed Brearley's batting and home-advantage-and-weak-opposition-biased record. But such is the image of the Ashes hero that all is forgiven, and instead it comes to form the basis for uncritical appreciation and biography.

In Brearley's time there was some notice paid to the fact that he was never a good enough batsman to hold his place in the English Test side (his average of 22 over 38 Tests without a Test century speaks for itself), and Phil Edmonds and Fred Titmus were skeptical about his reputed genius for man management (which was elevated to magical standards after his handling of the temperamental Botham and Willis in the 1981 Ashes).

But since his retirement these considerations seem to have vanished and his legend has shown a strictly monotonic increase. Journalistic assessments of Brearley often strike me as unqualified; but they are not generally regarded as such. His fandom appears literate, erudite, and possessed of the most rational of cricketing senses.

India has heroes just like Pakistan and England do, and their status is as contested as those of Pakistani and English ones. Tendulkar's status as an Indian icon is undoubted. But even in the Indian imagination, he occupies a complicated place. Acknowledging it would do more justice to the diversity of his following and the assessments directed at him. It would permit, too, a closer examination of forms of imbalanced hero worship that exist elsewhere in the cricketing world.

* An earlier version wrongly said the series result was 3-1

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Deuce03 on March 22, 2014, 4:54 GMT

    Brearley's legend has undoubtedly been burnished in retrospect, largely I suspect because he was the last England Test captain before the Fletcher era to meet with consistent success, and became associated with a period when England were still one of the best teams in the world before twenty-odd years of decline (indeed, they last topped the rankings, albeit only theoretically, under his captaincy). And perhaps the Packer-denuded tours do inflate his captaincy record. I think he might also have benefited from being outside the public gaze, unlike many of the fine captains who followed him but have outstayed their welcome in commentary.

    But you can't argue with the figures, and there he stands head and shoulders above all other regular England postwar captains. Only Vaughan among the rest has a win record above 50% - not even May or Hutton managed it. Brearley might not have been as good as they make him look, but he still demands to be taken seriously.

  • DingDong420 on March 26, 2014, 11:20 GMT

    There is no such thing as an unqualified hero

  • on March 25, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    I think Indians do have a fanatical fan base and Chopra has not said anything to convince me otherwise. It is not only Sachin, what about movie demigods like Rajni or Amit at one point of time. As for Sachin India with such mediocre record in the playing field, Sachin provided a release and then ever servient media did not help by building up that byline. As an Atheist I find such kind of hero worship over the top thereby not allowing Sachin to be critiqued for his shortcomings including his delayed retirement.

  • liz1558 on March 23, 2014, 18:17 GMT

    @Beertjie - good spot. You are right - it is worth marshalling lies, damned lies and statistics against Ian Chappell. Glad you agree.

  • Beertjie on March 23, 2014, 15:03 GMT

    @liz1558 on (March 22, 2014, 0:07 GMT): "his only ashes success came against a weak England team on home soil." Not so, both home ('74-75) AND away ('75), but don't let facts get in the way of Chappelli bashing!

  • Beertjie on March 23, 2014, 14:41 GMT

    What a strange comparison! To attempt to show that "Tendulkar never was an 'unqualified hero' in India; if he ever had any such standing it was, all too often, in the eyes of those who wrote about him from afar, who saw in his following a convenient and glib representation of India's apparently unhinged devotion to cricket" by invoking reception of Brearley as counterexample! Methinks you protest too much, Samir. Is our (mine and your) common academic Desi-slip showing? I endorse @John Nicholson: "I (too) have never seem Brearley mentioned WITHOUT reference to his modest playing record" Unlike other countries in which playing skill trumps perceived leadership, England had until recently preferred selecting from a coterie of "gentlemen". Illingworth and before him briefly Close stood out from this group. This would normally attract a degree of contumely from outsiders. However, while they remain successful, they receive unqualified support at home (If it's not broken, why 'fix' it?).

  • Batmanian on March 23, 2014, 14:14 GMT

    Tendulkar wasn't a good captain; Brearley wasn't a good batsman (and was he that great a captain? Certainly not as great as Tendulkar was a batsman). I can't see how you can attempt a comparison.

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on March 23, 2014, 12:05 GMT

    Completely agree with Samir. Brearley might have been a great man manager, but his credentials are suspect- the one series when he led against a strong opposition, his side lost 3-0 (to a team that was subsequently bludgeoned into submission by the far stronger West Indies later in the same season).

  • on March 22, 2014, 21:22 GMT

    I think describing the England teams of Brearley's era as ten modestly talented men and one genius is very odd; Gooch, Gower, Willis, Boycott (an absolute colossus in Brearley's early wins), Greig (briefly), Knott and Taylor were all superb players. Knott, in particular, would have claims to be an all-rounder in the Botham class.

    My main criticism would be that the only people who 'hero worship' Brearley are the men who played under him and Middlesex fans - he was less highly regarded by cricket fans and journalists in the north of England

  • ICF_Lurker on March 22, 2014, 20:08 GMT

    One can also very easily argue that a player like Imran Khan could never succeed in Indian atmosphere. The huge power that Imran yielded, specially in selecting his teams, is way bigger than what Kapil, Sunny, Sachin ever had. And somehow Pakistanis seem okay with it. Such dictatorial power, if you will, will hardly have ever been well received amongst Indian fans.

    Every country, and their fans, are different. Lets just leave at that

  • Deuce03 on March 22, 2014, 4:54 GMT

    Brearley's legend has undoubtedly been burnished in retrospect, largely I suspect because he was the last England Test captain before the Fletcher era to meet with consistent success, and became associated with a period when England were still one of the best teams in the world before twenty-odd years of decline (indeed, they last topped the rankings, albeit only theoretically, under his captaincy). And perhaps the Packer-denuded tours do inflate his captaincy record. I think he might also have benefited from being outside the public gaze, unlike many of the fine captains who followed him but have outstayed their welcome in commentary.

    But you can't argue with the figures, and there he stands head and shoulders above all other regular England postwar captains. Only Vaughan among the rest has a win record above 50% - not even May or Hutton managed it. Brearley might not have been as good as they make him look, but he still demands to be taken seriously.

  • DingDong420 on March 26, 2014, 11:20 GMT

    There is no such thing as an unqualified hero

  • on March 25, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    I think Indians do have a fanatical fan base and Chopra has not said anything to convince me otherwise. It is not only Sachin, what about movie demigods like Rajni or Amit at one point of time. As for Sachin India with such mediocre record in the playing field, Sachin provided a release and then ever servient media did not help by building up that byline. As an Atheist I find such kind of hero worship over the top thereby not allowing Sachin to be critiqued for his shortcomings including his delayed retirement.

  • liz1558 on March 23, 2014, 18:17 GMT

    @Beertjie - good spot. You are right - it is worth marshalling lies, damned lies and statistics against Ian Chappell. Glad you agree.

  • Beertjie on March 23, 2014, 15:03 GMT

    @liz1558 on (March 22, 2014, 0:07 GMT): "his only ashes success came against a weak England team on home soil." Not so, both home ('74-75) AND away ('75), but don't let facts get in the way of Chappelli bashing!

  • Beertjie on March 23, 2014, 14:41 GMT

    What a strange comparison! To attempt to show that "Tendulkar never was an 'unqualified hero' in India; if he ever had any such standing it was, all too often, in the eyes of those who wrote about him from afar, who saw in his following a convenient and glib representation of India's apparently unhinged devotion to cricket" by invoking reception of Brearley as counterexample! Methinks you protest too much, Samir. Is our (mine and your) common academic Desi-slip showing? I endorse @John Nicholson: "I (too) have never seem Brearley mentioned WITHOUT reference to his modest playing record" Unlike other countries in which playing skill trumps perceived leadership, England had until recently preferred selecting from a coterie of "gentlemen". Illingworth and before him briefly Close stood out from this group. This would normally attract a degree of contumely from outsiders. However, while they remain successful, they receive unqualified support at home (If it's not broken, why 'fix' it?).

  • Batmanian on March 23, 2014, 14:14 GMT

    Tendulkar wasn't a good captain; Brearley wasn't a good batsman (and was he that great a captain? Certainly not as great as Tendulkar was a batsman). I can't see how you can attempt a comparison.

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on March 23, 2014, 12:05 GMT

    Completely agree with Samir. Brearley might have been a great man manager, but his credentials are suspect- the one series when he led against a strong opposition, his side lost 3-0 (to a team that was subsequently bludgeoned into submission by the far stronger West Indies later in the same season).

  • on March 22, 2014, 21:22 GMT

    I think describing the England teams of Brearley's era as ten modestly talented men and one genius is very odd; Gooch, Gower, Willis, Boycott (an absolute colossus in Brearley's early wins), Greig (briefly), Knott and Taylor were all superb players. Knott, in particular, would have claims to be an all-rounder in the Botham class.

    My main criticism would be that the only people who 'hero worship' Brearley are the men who played under him and Middlesex fans - he was less highly regarded by cricket fans and journalists in the north of England

  • ICF_Lurker on March 22, 2014, 20:08 GMT

    One can also very easily argue that a player like Imran Khan could never succeed in Indian atmosphere. The huge power that Imran yielded, specially in selecting his teams, is way bigger than what Kapil, Sunny, Sachin ever had. And somehow Pakistanis seem okay with it. Such dictatorial power, if you will, will hardly have ever been well received amongst Indian fans.

    Every country, and their fans, are different. Lets just leave at that

  • John-Price on March 22, 2014, 19:15 GMT

    I can remember Brearley attracting a great deal of criticism abut his batting; indeed there was a running controversy throughout his international career as to whether he should be in the team. His record though, coupled with obvious tactical acumen and his way with words, his won people over. And remember, even though he was often playing against weaken opposition, England lost payers to Packer as well and he was leading a weakened England side.

  • CricketingStargazer on March 22, 2014, 17:47 GMT

    Interesting comments, but I am not sure where this concept of hero-worship comes in. It was recognised that he had the good luck to captain England at the time of the Packer crisis and never, ever faced the West Indians. It was also recognised that, despite a first class 300, he never cut it at Test level, but was worth his place as a man-manager. Given the well-known Brearley-Edmonds feud, using Edmonds's thoughts as a basis for your thesis is perhaps pushing things a bit.

    To understand the Brearley-Edmonds relationship you need to read a few books from the epoch by English writers (Frances Edmonds has described the root of their feud beautifully and Geoff Boycott has also written extensively of it in his tour books and of his frustration with Edmonds's non-selection for years afterwards). It doesn't take away from the fact that Brearley was a superb captain at county level, leading Middlesex to unprecedented success, a fact that is carefully glossed-over in your article.

  • inswing on March 22, 2014, 13:34 GMT

    The problem with England is that they haven't had any top-echelon (someone who would make it an all-time world 11, first or second team) in the last 60 years. Hero worship exists in England as it does elsewhere, just that England hasn't had any players good enough. Brearly is just and desperate attempt to fill that gap. What is the next best option for worship? Why, you worship players who played well _against_ England. Playing well against England surely deserves more importance than playing well against other stronger teams. As a result, many players who feasted against weak or mediocre England sides are lionized by the press. While Lillee and Warne were great players, their legacy is inflated purely because they clobbered England.

  • nursery_ender on March 22, 2014, 10:46 GMT

    Given that Phil Edmonds was, in his attitude to authority, the KP of his day I'd take his views with a pinch of salt. Similarly Fred Titmus was passed over for the Middlesex captaincy in favour of Brearley.

    The 1981 series clearly showed that Brearley's captaincy was far, far better than Botham's as he got far better results from the same group of players.

    But as others have said the whole article is based on a fallacy. Among those who follow(ed) cricket at the time Brearley was recognised as a brilliant captain but a limited batsman at Test level. Certainly there was (and is) no hero worship remotely comparable to that of Tendulkar.

  • on March 22, 2014, 5:55 GMT

    Fantastic. i have been trying to dismantle the cult of Brearley on the comments section here for years. you have nailed him. Australia were beaten by a fluke at headingley and then had their worst ever defeat at Edgbaston as panic set in, and Brearley had nothing to do with any of it.

  • jayray999 on March 22, 2014, 5:36 GMT

    I find it unbelievable that no one pointed out that Samir conveniently omits Osman's very next paragraph i.e. the one that follows the one that he (Samir) quotes:

    "Fool was I to not even consider Afridi, who represents something about the modern soul of Pakistan as vividly as anybody. No current cricketer in Pakistan is as popular. He has many, many detractors, sure, and many who don't take him at all seriously. But who else has, in the last decade, brought an entire country together this exhilaratingly as often as Afridi, even if it isn't nearly as often as we'd like? Maybe he isn't a hero but today, on a day that marks five years of the darkest doom to have struck Pakistan cricket, he has managed to make Pakistan fret about it a little less, even if briefly. If that is not heroic then I'm not sure what is."

  • on March 22, 2014, 5:09 GMT

    "home-advantage-and-weak-opposition-biased record". Isn't that the case with botham as well. After all 1976-82 was his peak period as well.

  • on March 22, 2014, 4:27 GMT

    Certainly Brearley was out of his depth as a batter in intl. cricket, but I'd just like to point out that he did a pretty handy job in that 1981 series. Those numbers may not look like much, but I reckon he was match top scorer for England at Edgbaston and ground out a gritty draw at a vulnerable position in the final game at Lords. At least for that series his fame is well deserved, IMO.

  • on March 22, 2014, 2:07 GMT

    Samir is too hard on Brearley, who produced very good results with ten modestly talented men and one genius. Even against a Packer-depleted Australia, those were thumping victories: much more convincing than what India (untouched by Packer, like England) managed against the same Aussies even at home. And Brearley's team beat India in India also, by ten wickets in the Jubilee Test. I would rate Brearley as one of the five best post-Second-World-War captains, for what it's worth. Having said that, it's a valid observation that the "cult of Brearley" among English and even Australian cricket writers is typically seen (by those same writers) as eminently reasonable, and the "cult of Tendulkar" as a homogenous sign of the madness of natives. The Indian cricket crowd is not homogenous at all, and moreover, its views are subject to change over time. The later Tendulkar was (quite justifiably) subject to a lot more criticism than the boy wonder of the 1990s and early 2000s.

  • on March 22, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    The English remember Brearley fondly but they are far from uncritical. He was an underrated first class batsman who was a consistent run scorer at County level but he never really cut it as a batsmen in test matches. Also he never captained England against the might of the West Indies.

    However having said that he was a very successful captain of Middlesex for 11 years and was key to the legendary 1981 Ashes turnaround. I would say tactically Brearley was England's third best captain after Jardine and Illingworth who both had very good results against stronger opposition by winning Ashes series in Australia.

    I think one of the key reasons Brearley is popular is because his hinterland makes him so much more interesting than 99% of cricketers with his parallel career as an academic and psychoanalyst and his active involvement in the anti-apartheid movement. Along with the Rev David Sheppard and John Arlott he was one of the leading English voices against Apartheid South Africa.

  • liz1558 on March 22, 2014, 0:07 GMT

    Johnny Rook- Ian Chappel doesn't like anything English - especially upper class intellectual English chaps who went to Cambridge. Besides, his only ashes success came against a weak England team on home soil. Over rated.

  • liz1558 on March 21, 2014, 23:57 GMT

    Well said crocricket. That was undeniably a good England side he lead. Underwood, Willis, Knott, Botham , Gower, Gooch, Boycott - the biggest shame is that he didn't lead England against the WI in 1980. The author too easily didmsses the 81 Aussies. He has forgotten that this apparent house of cards were 500/1 favourites to take a 2-0 lead at one point. They couldn't have been that awful. In that moment it was brearley's ability to motivate Botham that made a big difference. And Botham then was a truly great cricketer, as opposed to the over weight medium pacer of the following years.

  • on March 21, 2014, 23:11 GMT

    This article is in error in two ways. (a) The irrationality of Indian fans is best demonstrated by analysing other issues and (b) The cherry-picking of Brearley as an example is desperate, misguided, and inappropriate. There was never an argument made that on-field disputes should be entirely resolve based on Brearley's opinion of what happened. Yet this claim was made loudly and often of Tendulkar. It is then tendentious and facile to speak of Brearley's "hagiography". Brearley was never held up as an infallible scion of all that is moral and right. Tendulkar was and still is.

  • criclover112 on March 21, 2014, 22:52 GMT

    Most people in England don't know who Mike Brearly is. A small minority might remember him fondly in England for the ashes win but that is it. Comparison with Tendulkar is facile. No other cricketing nation, has a hero like Tendulkar, despite producing exceptional players. Look at the list : Imran, Lillee, Viv Richards, Graeme Pollocks, Warne, Mcgrath, , Hadlee and Marshall to name a few. None of them is hailed a God. Warne is a wizard of the hardest art in cricket, leg spin and yet the whole of Australia is not turning on their television sets when he comes on to bowl.

  • on March 21, 2014, 21:52 GMT

    Completely agree with John Nicholson and Rob Widdis. I think that many people do overrate Brearley's record (especially considering how he never captained against WI) but any writing about him always includes a mention of his poor batting record and the startling individual performances by Botham and Willis in 1981. But overall I think his record with what was a troubled and average England side (albeit with great individual talents in it) really does speak for itself. The point is that this does contrast with a lot of the writing about Tendulkar, which failed to take into account any of that player's failings over his career.

    Also, the point about Titmus and Edmunds is at best facetious - Brearly captained Middlesex for nearly a decade, clearly not everybody was going to love him.

    On a related point - what is Brearley's reputation outside England? Is he as well regarded (as a captain) in India? (for example)

  • Biggus on March 21, 2014, 20:42 GMT

    It's drawing a pretty long bow to try to equate English fondness for Mike Brearley to the slavish devotion to everything about Sachin Tendulkar of a SIGNIFICANT portion of the Indian fan base. For a start, the English posters don't try to turn every article on this site into a eulogy to Brearley. As a neutral observer I find the attempted comparison fallacious in the extreme.

  • on March 21, 2014, 19:46 GMT

    Hands up any England fans who wouldn't swap Alastair Cook for Mike Brearley. No one? Thought so.

  • skilebow on March 21, 2014, 17:58 GMT

    @stephen Ryan - anyone who knows their cricket will have at least heard of Bearley!

    @cardroid-Dravid is my favourite Indian cricketer too!

  • Paul_Somerset on March 21, 2014, 17:43 GMT

    Until I read the paragraph listing Brearley's achievements I hadn't realized what a consistently successful captain the man had been. Wherever he went he just seemed to keep on winning according to this article.

    Thank you, Mr Chopra. I've always had fond memories of Brearley thanks to watching the great Middlesex team he led in the 1970s. But now I've digested this article I think it's definitely time to pin a photo of the great man above my bed.

  • vatsap on March 21, 2014, 17:07 GMT

    :-) Extend the argument to the fact that Lillee took 98% of his wickets in Eng and Aust/NZ, quite a number of Aus/Eng great bats scored their tons only in 2 countries and the Lankan bats --> De'Silva, Jayawardane, Sanga are classified as local bullies.

    Guess there is no real way to judge a great player purely based on numbers.

    On Brearley, he was clearly overrated, a good human being and a decent captain but too much hype. I always found it amusing, in 149 innings, after Botham reached his century Brearley would be gesturing from the pavilion to stay on. He was possibly the Jr. Phil Jackson of cricket.

  • on March 21, 2014, 17:03 GMT

    Brearly has never been worshiped as a hero. This is a strange article as the comparison makes no sense!

  • on March 21, 2014, 16:08 GMT

    Agree with John Nicholson's post - I'd also like to add that Brearley wasn't above pointing out his own failings with the bat, or as a captain. His elevation to the England captaincy was on the back of an outstanding record of success as a County captain.

    Titmus and Edmonds would not be unbiased witnesses - Brearley has frequently written of his failings as a man-manager of Edmonds, and Brearley dropped Titmus from the Middlesex side in the 1970s as Titmus' career drew to as close. Fred was reportedly sanguine about it at the time, so I'm not too sure about any evidence to the contrary.

    He beat most of the teams that he opposed. This was beyond most of his English contemporaries. That's why we remember him so fondly, but none of us regard him as perfect.

  • cheguramana on March 21, 2014, 16:05 GMT

    Thank you Samir, that was very well said !

  • on March 21, 2014, 15:49 GMT

    I've never heard of Brearley, and nether has 90% of any other cricket fan I might speak to.

    So how can this comparison mean anything? You've got to compare Tendulkar's treatment to that of Smith, Pietersen, Ponting, Kallis etc. What are the differences in the local fans' treatment of these players? Compare this to India's treatment of Tendulkar.

  • prashant1 on March 21, 2014, 15:35 GMT

    If you REALLY go to see- The likes of Dravid, Lara etc only outperform Tendulkar from 2003-07 with Tendulkar pretty bust due to injuries. Take a look at the figures till 2003. And then from 2008 onwards. But , like I said- this is Tendulkar. And with the unreal expectations he has had to endure- it's amazing that there infact "only" at least a "guaranteed' haters.

    Next time- use a bit of routine, regular ol' probability. May make things clearer and more obvious.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on March 21, 2014, 13:26 GMT

    Heard a bit about Brearly and his great captaincy and such.I think current Aus skip. M Clarke is 10 times captain Brearly ever was.Of course in diff. league as bat/player.His recd. v great Aus side-Taylor/Waugh-would've been no better.Right 'time/place'.

  • Sarathc90 on March 21, 2014, 13:04 GMT

    This article was long over due. But better late than never i guess.

  • Lodhisingh on March 21, 2014, 12:27 GMT

    sad some people think they are equal in numbers to the people who worship him as their hero. u would be probably be out numbered 50-1 or worse.

  • steve48 on March 21, 2014, 10:49 GMT

    Found this article fascinating, in that, like most writers, a very valid opening point is slightly marred by the attempt to shoe horn in a relevant comparison. I agree, having read much on SRT, that there is a far from insignificant number of critics, champions instead of Dravid, for example. However, I find precious few 'mainstream' articles written about him critically. In fact, similarly, Brearley's record as a captain is viewed more cynically by the public than by journalists ( everyone agrees about his batting, although significant time off to pursue his studies probably make him seem a worse player than he actually was). If there is a difference, perhaps it is more to do with a more passionate, partisan fan base in India than we English feel about our players, and thus less time spent looking for critical analysis. Enjoyed the article, though.

  • CarDroid on March 21, 2014, 10:44 GMT

    Couldn't agree more! I have lost count of the number of times I have had to tell my English friends that, yes SRT is a national icon but my favourite Indian cricketer is Rahul Dravid. And every single time this is met with, "No kidding? I thought umpires get lynched in India if SRT is given out!"

  • crocricket on March 21, 2014, 10:34 GMT

    The 1977 Ashes win was actually 3-0 not 3-1. He also captained England to victory in India in the Jubilee Test (the one in which Botham took 13 wickets and scored a hundred). In addition, he took England to the 1979 World Cup final. On the way, they beat a very useful Pakistan team that included the likes of Imran Khan, Zaheer Abbas and Javed Miandad. He was a fine captain.

  • JohnnyRook on March 21, 2014, 9:36 GMT

    Good article Samir. I totally agree with you that non-Indians think that all or almost all Indians are huge fans of Sachin Tendulkar. But I know for a fact that truckloads of Indians totally hate him for host of reasons mentioned by you and a few more like "not contributing in wins" and "not paying taxes".

    It could be because of wrongly set expectations. Like a dialogue in the 2001 movie spiderman, "People love a hero but one thing they love more is to see that hero fail"

    Regarding Mike Brearly, I think Ian Chappell would totally agree with you. He has always maintained that he doesn't consider Brearly as good a captain Englishmen make him to be because he has only won at home or against average teams and most of the time both.

  • on March 21, 2014, 9:26 GMT

    Don't agree with this at all. I have never seem Brearley mentioned WITHOUT reference to his modest playing record. Despite it, he played his early Test matches purely as a batsman, and only became captain as an apparent stop-gap when Tony Grieg was sacked for his involvement with Packer. Both England and Australia were affected by loss of players to World Series Cricket in the 1978-9 series and there was general agreement at the time that Brearley was extremely tactically astute, and that this contributed to the large victory. No real person is above criticism, and I really don't think Brearley is, either. But to suggest that he was not, after all, an exceptional captain, really does fly in the face of the evidence.

  • on March 21, 2014, 9:26 GMT

    Don't agree with this at all. I have never seem Brearley mentioned WITHOUT reference to his modest playing record. Despite it, he played his early Test matches purely as a batsman, and only became captain as an apparent stop-gap when Tony Grieg was sacked for his involvement with Packer. Both England and Australia were affected by loss of players to World Series Cricket in the 1978-9 series and there was general agreement at the time that Brearley was extremely tactically astute, and that this contributed to the large victory. No real person is above criticism, and I really don't think Brearley is, either. But to suggest that he was not, after all, an exceptional captain, really does fly in the face of the evidence.

  • JohnnyRook on March 21, 2014, 9:36 GMT

    Good article Samir. I totally agree with you that non-Indians think that all or almost all Indians are huge fans of Sachin Tendulkar. But I know for a fact that truckloads of Indians totally hate him for host of reasons mentioned by you and a few more like "not contributing in wins" and "not paying taxes".

    It could be because of wrongly set expectations. Like a dialogue in the 2001 movie spiderman, "People love a hero but one thing they love more is to see that hero fail"

    Regarding Mike Brearly, I think Ian Chappell would totally agree with you. He has always maintained that he doesn't consider Brearly as good a captain Englishmen make him to be because he has only won at home or against average teams and most of the time both.

  • crocricket on March 21, 2014, 10:34 GMT

    The 1977 Ashes win was actually 3-0 not 3-1. He also captained England to victory in India in the Jubilee Test (the one in which Botham took 13 wickets and scored a hundred). In addition, he took England to the 1979 World Cup final. On the way, they beat a very useful Pakistan team that included the likes of Imran Khan, Zaheer Abbas and Javed Miandad. He was a fine captain.

  • CarDroid on March 21, 2014, 10:44 GMT

    Couldn't agree more! I have lost count of the number of times I have had to tell my English friends that, yes SRT is a national icon but my favourite Indian cricketer is Rahul Dravid. And every single time this is met with, "No kidding? I thought umpires get lynched in India if SRT is given out!"

  • steve48 on March 21, 2014, 10:49 GMT

    Found this article fascinating, in that, like most writers, a very valid opening point is slightly marred by the attempt to shoe horn in a relevant comparison. I agree, having read much on SRT, that there is a far from insignificant number of critics, champions instead of Dravid, for example. However, I find precious few 'mainstream' articles written about him critically. In fact, similarly, Brearley's record as a captain is viewed more cynically by the public than by journalists ( everyone agrees about his batting, although significant time off to pursue his studies probably make him seem a worse player than he actually was). If there is a difference, perhaps it is more to do with a more passionate, partisan fan base in India than we English feel about our players, and thus less time spent looking for critical analysis. Enjoyed the article, though.

  • Lodhisingh on March 21, 2014, 12:27 GMT

    sad some people think they are equal in numbers to the people who worship him as their hero. u would be probably be out numbered 50-1 or worse.

  • Sarathc90 on March 21, 2014, 13:04 GMT

    This article was long over due. But better late than never i guess.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on March 21, 2014, 13:26 GMT

    Heard a bit about Brearly and his great captaincy and such.I think current Aus skip. M Clarke is 10 times captain Brearly ever was.Of course in diff. league as bat/player.His recd. v great Aus side-Taylor/Waugh-would've been no better.Right 'time/place'.

  • prashant1 on March 21, 2014, 15:35 GMT

    If you REALLY go to see- The likes of Dravid, Lara etc only outperform Tendulkar from 2003-07 with Tendulkar pretty bust due to injuries. Take a look at the figures till 2003. And then from 2008 onwards. But , like I said- this is Tendulkar. And with the unreal expectations he has had to endure- it's amazing that there infact "only" at least a "guaranteed' haters.

    Next time- use a bit of routine, regular ol' probability. May make things clearer and more obvious.

  • on March 21, 2014, 15:49 GMT

    I've never heard of Brearley, and nether has 90% of any other cricket fan I might speak to.

    So how can this comparison mean anything? You've got to compare Tendulkar's treatment to that of Smith, Pietersen, Ponting, Kallis etc. What are the differences in the local fans' treatment of these players? Compare this to India's treatment of Tendulkar.