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The Tony Greig Show
'Cricket needs leadership from India'
March 1, 2010
Tendulkar's achievement, premature retirements, and why India needs to step up and make big decisions
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Sachin Tendulkar savours reaching his double century, 2nd ODI, Gwalior, February 24, 2010
"His double hundred against South Africa was another milestone in the career of a man who has been a great example to cricketers young and old" © Associated Press

Sachin's ODI double
Like millions of others, I have been a Sachin Tendulkar fan for many years now. And while the real excitement was watching him emerge as the best player in the world, it has also been wonderful witnessing his endurance. There have been quite a few good judges who have tried to persuade Tendulkar to retire, but I am not one of those. The Indian cricket lovers simply can't get enough of him, and let's face it, he will be retired for a long time. His double-hundred against South Africa was another milestone in the career of a man who has been a great example to cricketers young and old. Despite making more runs than anyone else in cricket, Tendulkar remains true to the spirit of cricket - though he has to live a life that is very different from that of many of his team-mates.

He is so loved. He is mobbed wherever he goes in India, and many other cricket-loving countries. He and his family have to take holidays in remote places to experience things most of us take for granted - like shopping or going for a drive. Even a family meal at a restaurant is just not on. He has handled all this adoration with the same calm control he possesses when he has a bat in his hand. I don't think there can ever be another Don Bradman, but if there is, Sachin Tendulkar would be the man.

Brett Lee's retirement from Test cricket
Brett Lee's retirement from Test cricket shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. He has been through a tough time with injuries, and is now at an age when he needs to manage what he has left in his fast-bowling tank. This likeable fast bowler has also had to manage a recent marriage break-up, and [the retirement] goes with being a good dad to his young son Preston.

As much as Lee loves Test cricket, he, like many of his team-mates, is faced with a tougher decision than those who have gone before. The international calendar has changed dramatically with the advent of the lucrative Twenty20 tournaments around the world. It is no longer imperative to have a board contract to make a living and this is resulting in those close to retirement, and fast bowlers in particular, reassessing their plans. Brett Lee has decided that if he gives Test cricket away, he has a chance of making an impact in ODIs and Twenty20.

He retires as Australia's fourth-highest Test wicket-taker - he took 310 wickets in 76 Tests. His contribution while playing in the world's best cricket team for over a decade will give him immense satisfaction. While Australia don't have a super-fast replacement for Lee, there is no doubt that the very healthy first-class competition will continue to produce hardworking and effective replacements, like Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle. The cupboard is certainly not bare. Brett Lee has brought to Australian cricket the excitement that goes with watching a seriously fast bowler. He falls into the same category as Shoaib Akhtar and Dale Steyn - super fast and aggressive. His Test career may be over but expect to see him bowling and hitting out in the limited-over formats.

Are fast bowlers a dying breed?
There are some experts who are worried that fast bowlers are a dying breed. They argue that too much cricket and not enough recovery time is killing them off and that the balance has shifted in favour of batsmen over the years. There is no doubt that this is partially true. The advent of the helmet has certainly reduced the test of courage and bats are far better than they were. It is up to those of us who know the game to come up with answers that address the problems that unsettle the balance between bat and ball. Fast bowlers flourish on fast, bouncy pitches, so all we have to do is see to it that pitches around the world are, in the main, hard and not devoid of surface grass. This past season in Australia groundsmen were instructed to prepare normal pitches but to leave more surface grass on the pitches. The pitches were wonderful, and we saw plenty of good cricket. Flat pitches, like many in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the West Indies, allow batsmen to dominate and the result is often boring. Again, we are in the hands of the administrators of the game. If they don't take action nothing will change.

Premature retirements
It amazes me that cricket lovers and some administrators are surprised that cricketers are announcing their retirement from Test cricket in order to prolong their ODI and Twenty20 careers. Let's try to get all this into perspective. Since World Series Cricket back in the late seventies, the financial position of cricketers has continued to improve. As a result top players are playing well into their thirties, and in some cases forties, to take full advantage of the wealth on offer. As they find it more difficult to handle the hectic programme, something has to give, so it's natural that the toughest and most time-consuming format of the game, Test cricket, is the victim. Giving away Tests gives top players more recovery time, while also allowing them to play in all the limited-overs internationals. It also gives them a better opportunity to play in the IPL and to cherry pick the other Twenty20 domestic competitions around the world, in an effort to ensure they have a team to play for in the lucrative Champions League. It's all about money, and the IPL is the biggest money spinner.

Let's face it, cricket administrators don't know how to handle the new cricket landscape. India have already managed to wrestle from the world game a window of two months in which to play the IPL, but more importantly they have set up a franchise system which is able to offer overseas players financial incentives to play. The whole model is based on television revenue, and every cricket nation is now faced with the prospect of losing their best players to India's IPL for no financial return whatever. It's only a question of time before all this will come to a head, and when it does India will be asked to make concessions, but it may well be too late. Ultimately the players will decide what is best. Do they want to continue to be contracted to their respective boards, and in so doing do as they say or will they choose the freelance option? Some will stay and others will go as they are now, but there can be no doubt that the game as we know it will change unless the all powerful Indian board decides or is forced to adopt a different approach.

"Let's face it, cricket administrators don't know how to handle the new cricket landscape"

The IPL and security issues
The security for foreign players during the IPL has again become a talking point, and there are many players who are apprehensive about taking part in this year's tournament. Regrettably, we live in an age where no government or cricket board is in a position to give meaningful guarantees to players. They do, however, have to listen to the concerns of the players and do their best to implement their requirements. The attack on the Sri Lankan players in Lahore has ensured that it is no longer acceptable to put in place minimal security arrangements. Hotel and ground security has to be top-class and appropriate convoy procedures have to be in place when teams are moved between airports, hotels and grounds. Another player-related incident in India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka will have a shattering effect on cricket in the region.

It's far too easy to accept that the security threat is a modern reality. As far as I am concerned it's an individual thing and I can see a time when cricket authorities the world over will be left with no option other than to allow players to make their own decisions without there being any repercussions. We could even see a situation arise where players who agree to go to places that are dangerous will receive more of a financial incentive for doing so. If, for example, Pakistan wanted to play a World XI in Pakistan in an effort to get some decent home games, they would, I am sure, succeed in putting a team together but it would be expensive. It's also worth noting that the more the cricketers rely on the IPL for a living, the more likely it is that these players will go to India regardless of the threat.

Saving Test cricket in India
Recently Rahul Dravid bought into the cricket-calendar debate and what he had to say was interesting and will raise a few hackles in India. Dravid wants India to adopt a similar approach to their scheduling to that of Australia, South Africa and England. He actually went a step further and suggested that India should use their clout to lead the debate. Great idea, but I am not going to hold my breath because it seems to me that while India holds the financial trumps they will continue to adopt a divide-and-separate philosophy. There are so many issues that need to be resolved before cricket settles down to a period of peace and prosperity. For this to happen the game needs leadership, which has to come from India or it will simply not happen. A rolling programme has to be devised which takes into consideration the requirements of everyone in the cricket family. Such changes don't usually come about until a disaster occurs. It's rather like an alcoholic - there is usually the downhill slide, and then comes the call for help, and the recognition that there is a problem; thereafter it's usually plain sailing.

Comments: 24 
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Posted by Nitin on (March 4, 2010, 11:19 GMT)

Why do people keep comparing Bradman & Tendulkar!?! Bradman played mainly against 1-2 opposition, in very few countries (thereby not in varying conditions) and the fielding standards were low at best. He however played without any protective gear, on uncovered pitches, with much less sophisiticated equipment (bats, gloves etc.) and with rules not favouring the batsmen so much. Tendulkar has played in very very different circumstances (11 test playing nations, more than 11 countries, great fielding standards, amazing protective gear and equipment and rules favouring the batsmen majorly). Any comparison in this situation is futile - can you guys understand!?! Even Tendulkar's 200 shouldn't be compared with Anwar's (Anwar had a runner for a large part of the innings and had no batting powerplay - all these factors make a huge difference please!).

Posted by Harish on (March 3, 2010, 11:58 GMT)

Sachin's not better than Bradman! I've been a fan of Sachin since I was 7 and I'll probably lose interest in the game post his retirement (the emergence of T20 - that abomination to the game- has helped that decision). Let's make one thing clear: All discussions of greatness when it comes to Test Batsmen, everyone vies for 2nd place. The Don is the greatest. Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards, Garry Sobers, Sunil Gavaskar, Viv Richards, Wally Hammond and even Haydos and Punter all fight for 2nd place. I'd probably rate Sachin 3rd. Pollock is 2nd, Richards is 4th, Gavaskar 5th, Viv 6th and Hammond 7th. These rankings are open for debate and depend on personal choice. But for cricket's sake, stop saying ANYONE is better than Bradman. That's absurd.

Posted by Nathan on (March 3, 2010, 2:35 GMT)

To all the 'experts' stating that Tendulkar is better than the Don (much better than even 4 Dons according to FanCric ...), could they please explain why Bradman's Test average is about 44 runs greater than Tendulkar's?? FORTY FOUR RUNS GREATER!!! Some comments here are statistically comparable to saying Mcgrath is a better batsman than Ponting. And the usual suspects will chime in with 'Bradman only played a few opponents, different pitches, etc etc etc', but if ANY of those factors that the Tendulkar worshippers like to cite made such a difference, why did no one else from Bradman's era score so highly? If people want to deify a mortal cricketer, go ahead, but please base your analysis on facts and reality, so that hopefully I won't have to read so many laughable, ignorant comparisons in the future.

Posted by Siva on (March 2, 2010, 16:51 GMT)

No comments about the Kolkata test! An excellent test match between two top ranking teams, played with competitive spirit on a good test pitch with several commendable individual performances. A valiant effort from the Indian team coming from behind after losing the first test and winning the match to retain their no.1 spot in the test ranking. Alas, no mention at all; yet there is mention of one day match performance, 20/20 issues by the very person who worries about the death of test cricket because of too many 20/20 matches. I don't understand the logic behind these inconsistent, often contradicting expert comments. God save us from expert commentators!

Posted by Satyajit on (March 2, 2010, 16:30 GMT)

I think the comparison of Don with Sachin in quite unnecessary as they are from very different eras. This is nice coming from Sachin, "It is unfair to make comparisons. I have never believed in comparisons, because I respect every individual. That is how I looked at life, not only in cricket but off the field as well. Every individual has his own identity and I am not only talking about Sir Don but all the other players who have played for a long time at the international level. They all have made huge sacrifices, and along with them their families have also made sacrifices; we need to respect that. We need to value rather than compare them with someone or the other".

Posted by Madhusudhan on (March 2, 2010, 15:38 GMT)

Never ever compare Sachin with Bradman. Even Four Bradman's cannot come close to Sachin!

Posted by eddy on (March 2, 2010, 13:16 GMT)

@ neil247.excuse me sir but are you seriously saying that because SRT scored 200 in a ODI he now overtakes the DON?????????? There is the DON then....(tendulkar, lara, richards) in no particular order. When VIV retired in 1990 people said he was the greatest, over time the genius of the DON was again realised and it became the Don then VIV. Then when Lara retired in 2006 he was the record holder of most runs in test cricket, biggest score and highest 1st class score. Many thought he was the greatest. Now im hearing the same nonsense about Tendulkar. A 99 avg says it all. case closed.

Posted by Neil on (March 2, 2010, 6:46 GMT)

Move over Don Bradman. Sachin Tendulkar is now the Greatest batsman of all time.

Posted by Cric on (March 2, 2010, 4:15 GMT)

Really nice one on Sachin, worth reading

Posted by Kannan on (March 2, 2010, 4:02 GMT)

Individuals win matches, teams win championships! India and Pakistan are still under-developed in cricket in that they still rely on individual performances rather than cohesive team performance as a unit to bring about consistency. Without doubt Australia plays as a team not only in cricket but even in hockey. Playing as a team involves leveraging the strengths of all individuals in a given situation so as to bring about the best results. Creating a team involves therefore involves development of all activities that the team do, to the acceptable benchmarked levels of competence. Coaching and training become critical to do this and to consciously iron out weak chinks! When India moves in this direction, a lot of countries will follow suit and cricket will really blossom. Else it'll be the story of hockey, when you suddenly wake up 20 years later and find that you aren't even in the top-10. Indian audiences aren't dumb. They'll appreciate performance when they see it!

Posted by P on (March 2, 2010, 3:02 GMT)

The idea of IPL/ICL was born due to India's early loss in the previous World Cup. One of the reasons IPL is popular is that in this tournament India never loses. I am of the opinion that for any form of cricket to survive, India needs to dominate that format. Indian public is so Cricket fanatic that they will abandon any form of game where India does not dominate. Having said all of this, I think it will be good for cricket to divert Indian audience interest into other avenues/sports or for India to keep on generating excellent players that dominate in all formats of Cricket. The day that happens, Cricket will flourish again.

Posted by Bazooka on (March 2, 2010, 2:51 GMT)

Utter rubbish. Talking through his hat. BElieves in Australian dominance as usual. Cant come to terms with the fact that India wields more power than Australia.

Posted by Anit on (March 2, 2010, 0:40 GMT)

Tony comes across as a big hypocrate in such write ups. He is just smacking his own face by taking a swipe against IPL. IPL is nothing more than a Packer except it is organized by the board rather than an individual. Not only that, the operational model of IPL is fairly similar to English County Cricket. So what part of IPL he does not agree with? The other aspect that all ex-cricketers in Aus/Eng need to come to terms is that money is going to influence cricket in a big way. The followers of yesterday will not continue to follow in the set up that was essentially meant for control. Alternate options will be innovated. Status quo will be challenged by countries who put the most money on the table.

Posted by Dre on (March 1, 2010, 23:03 GMT)

You CANNOT compare Football to cricket. The SPONSORHIPS and fan base for football is way greater and FIFA shells out more cash to ALL 100+ countries. I do agree and I did suggest in another post that English County should also contribute to the boards of players they recruit and keep in mind they don't recruit as many players. I think IPL are allowed to field up to 4 or 5 foreign players and are allowed more on the bench. One sees players from countries like the W.I. and Bang who can ill afford absentees getting injured in the IPL and KFC Big Bash and thus can't play for their countries. WHY SHOULDN'T boards get compensated? The cricket fraternity has only 9 top teams, we should do our best to maintain and encourage their standards. In football you have a team like Ghana who rank 27! in the Fifa rankings qualifying for world cup and competing well against Spain who rank #1. Who ranks #27 in cricket? can they compete in world cup? I think IPL and County should SCOUT associate players!

Posted by Siva on (March 1, 2010, 21:48 GMT)

Lots of international football players from different countries join various English football clubs for huge amounts of funds and play football in the English Premier League (EPL). I haven't heard anyone saying these English football clubs or the English football federation should also be paying the countries of their international players. Again, closer to home, English County Cricket Clubs have been recruiting overseas players for decades. None of these clubs have ever made any payment to the respective National boards and I haven't heard anyone complaining about it either. Kerry Packer experiment, took international players, paid them with the money from television revenues and got on with the matches. Never once thought of paying the respective national federations!! Mind you Tony Greig was a leader of this Packer bunch!! Tony, I really don't understand your clamour about Indian Board not paying the National Boards of all overseas players. ACCEPT WITH GRACE THE CHANGING OF GUARDS!

Posted by Cric on (March 1, 2010, 15:01 GMT)

I will not start with positives of him, we all know. So rather I will start from the negative points people say (even mature cricketers like the fellow commentator who sits with Lakshman Shivram Krishnan on Neo cricket)

1. Match winner : People say Sachin has not won as many matches as Ricky or other so called match winners who have won for their respective countries. Ok, my friends it is not that Ricky or so called people have won those matches just on their own, it is the support from other team mates like who won them matches. How many time we have seen Sachin scoring a very good score in a match and still India was on the losing side, and if it happens, Is it really Sachin's fault?


Posted by Kannan on (March 1, 2010, 12:11 GMT)

Tony has touched upon security, an imp point in the years to come. The general security threat to visiting players and cricket tournaments will be the highest in India in the years to come, thanks to terrorism supported/carried out by Pakistanis in India. The possibility of large collateral damage/casualty causing foreign teams/players to chicken out, will always attract these terrorists like a magnet. Anything that will make appear India to be unsafe will be "mission accomplished" for these people. India will have to take unprecedented steps to ensure that this doesn't happen. The security rigor and drill, planning and preparedness, will teach everybody how to handle mass spectator multi-venue tournaments in this day and age of terrorism! Security concerns now involve not only politicians, but "independent security analysts" and player associations, all of whom need to show strength, resolve and unity in purpose in fighting the odds! Cricket will no longer be a "walk in the park".

Posted by mansoor on (March 1, 2010, 6:29 GMT)

You are right Tony,it is the modest attitude of Sachin that makes him look even greater.He is the king of the cricket but most humble at the same time.

Posted by Kannan on (March 1, 2010, 5:54 GMT)

Views: =>The T20s have actually modified the skill sets of the younger breed. If they're called upon to face 150 + balls in Test cricket, they are usually found wanting. In ODIs a guy can post a decent score by just facing 75 balls and in T20s by just facing 30 balls. =>Also, scoring in domestic tournys is an indication of form but no measure of competence in international competiton. Selectors must recognise this and appropriately pick. =>A par ODI score nowadays is 350 on good pitches bet 2 good teams. A winning score is 400. Batsmen are adapting and getting more innovative. They're also playing unconventional and daring shots which challenge field setting. =>Good thinking and intelligent fast bowlers will always be in demand. The best of them will bowl economically, to the stumps and cramp batsmen to get wickets. =>Fielding - to save runs will be imp to win matches. Get the cricketers to run as much as the hockey players for an hour every day and they'll all excel in fielding!

Posted by BillyBlue on (March 1, 2010, 5:43 GMT)

Never another Bradman! What is with non sub-continental (SC), fans especially AUZ fans these day? Records only mean anything if scored or achieved by AUZ/ENG/SA teams/players? SC successes are always discounted/devalued. Not only ignorant fans but even current/retired players/commentators (P/C) from these countries have started undermining SC achievements. Has anyone has noticed a sour grapes pattern over the last decade since the rise of SC teams as serious contenders to AUZ, SA & ENG? SC bashing has become a fashion. P/Cc discount/undermine achievements of SC greats like Sachin, Murli, Wasim & Waqar w/o justification or proof. The last 3 were blatantly accused of cheating. Nobody questions AUZ greats Giltcrich (holding a racquet ball inside glove in a WC match), Warne (drugs & match fixing), Chappells (underarm bowling, aluminum bat), Auz team (Excessive appealing/sledging, cheating), Rebel tours supporting outright racism in SA. Is no one else noticing this dangerous/divisive trend?

Posted by Anabayan on (March 1, 2010, 5:20 GMT)

Oh Come on Grieg, don't you think this whining about Indian pitches is a bit old? Just check cricinfo, out of the last 15 tests 11 have produced results. And 2 have been really good draws. 70% result? I say the pitches are good enough!

Posted by BillyBlue on (March 1, 2010, 5:08 GMT)

Sachin Fan for years. What rubbish! Tony you are a hypocrite! In your last show Cricket at the Olympics? You've got to be joking you berated Sachin (without concrete proof) for allegedly wanting the less grass. I guess pure speculations has is now acceptable material in CricInfo articles! Sachin asking for less grass? I bet if unsubstantiated accusations were made by an sub continent player/reporter against an Auz/Eng legend, the furor would have lead to some firings. I guess ethics and motives of non sub-continent figures can never be questioned. Good old gentleman's game never changes in some aspects. It's alright for Auz/SA/Eng to have an outright edict out for pace friendly pitches for subcontinent teams, but if the sub continent requests a dust bow pitch to suit their bowlers, then its "killing test cricket". It is really disturbing to see a conscious and deliberate trend on part of these "gentlemen" to take spiteful & conceited swipes to discount & demean the sub-continent

Posted by Dre on (March 1, 2010, 4:06 GMT)

Glad to see Tony highlighting the opinion that many cricket fans do have (even if we aren't heard or drowned out). Security threats n terrorism is nobody's fault and to be fair, it is disturbing to have some one OPENLY threaten you whether the threats be genuine or not. I really think that squeezing n ridiculing players that don't feel comfortable playing in the IPL in Ind is very insensitive and at times plain rude and a form of bullying. No DON"T move the IPL BUT to tell players that they may not be invited again and you don't need them is really not on. Players have family. If their family say they prefer they not go and they decide not to, IPL should say "we are sorry to hear that, you won't get paid but hopefully we have a safe tourney that will convince u to come next yr" (there is a window for goodness sake!) Truth is without foreign players, IPL would not be an INTL success, it might be like Ranji trophy. Aus recruit foreigners for their Big Bash, to increase INTL viewing.

Posted by prasad on (March 1, 2010, 3:56 GMT)

Tony Greig...a man with good vision for the game, commercial skipper during his hey days and an excellent commentator has said that Sachin is the Don Bradman of contemporary cricket. I really dont care if a Hussain or a Roebuck says that, but here is a different story. And his view about the security situation of the present world is flawless.No body on this planet guarantees cent percent safety of any sports person, be it in Asia or the Americas. So, please try to understand the situation and help in succeeding the tournaments in the sub-continent. Are you listening, Kangaroos?

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