Sachin Tendulkar: The Man Cricket Loved Back February 28, 2014

'Sachin a better captain than his results showed' - Ganguly

ESPNcricinfo staff

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly has said that Sachin Tendulkar was a better leader than people made him out to be, considering the circumstances under which he captained.

In an article featured in ESPNcricinfo's new anthology, Sachin Tendulkar: The Man Cricket Loved Back, Ganguly writes: "He led on some very tough tours - South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Australia - and it must be said he didn't lose eight in a row. This when he didn't have a very good team around him. The older players were fading and the newcomers were too raw."

Ganguly, who captained Tendulkar in 143 of the 341 international matches in which the two played together, also writes of the necessity of making allowances for exceptional players like Tendulkar.

"When it came to being Sachin's captain, it was about giving him due respect: treating him like a team-mate but also as the special player he was. He was central to the side doing well. He had to feel relaxed and comfortable."

Tendulkar was unhappy, Ganguly writes, about having to bat at No. 4 in ODIs in 2002-03. "You say, please, do it for a short while; of course you'll be back up, let's see how long it goes. Once he settled down to the idea and saw it work, it was fine. When things went a bit wobbly at the 2003 World Cup, he was back up straight away."

The book contains tributes from other team-mates and coaches who played and worked with Tendulkar, among them Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, John Wright and Greg Chappell.

Dravid, who made a record 6920 Test runs with Tendulkar, writes of how the two had an inauspicious start, when, in their first time batting together in an international, in Singapore in 1996, Dravid was run out. "It wasn't a sign of things to come, though," he continues. "Only three of our 143 partnerships in Test cricket would end as run-outs."

The two played 391 internationals together and developed an almost intuitive understanding of each other's game. "One sure indicator that [Tendulkar] was in good touch was when he played the flick to the leg side," Dravid writes. "Cricket is a game where you naturally have more fielders on the off side, and especially in limited-overs cricket, bowlers like to bowl tight lines… [Tendulkar] would be on his toes, on top of the bounce, and would often beat midwicket to the fielder's right. Sometimes he even beat square leg to his right with that flick, not to the full ball but the ones pitched short of a length. That made you marvel from the other end."

John Wright, who coached India from 2000 to 2005, and also worked with Tendulkar at Mumbai Indians, speaks in the book of Tendulkar's respect for the game and the intensity he brought to his preparation. "A net practice to Sachin was a learning, part of his development as a batsman, which extended to what happened at the game that followed. He was his own coach and his own trainer.

"The time he spent with cricket, he spent with utter focus. [He was] never late - whether for the bus, meetings or nets. It was like going to church or to school; there's no negotiating those timetables. So it was with Sachin's training. The nets were his laboratory, his studio, and once there, he immersed himself."

The book contains analyses of Tendulkar's technique by Aakash Chopra, VVS Laxman, Sanjay Manjrekar, Allan Donald, Mukul Kesavan and Greg Chappell among others.

"What characterised a Tendulkar innings for me was balance and efficiency," Chappell, who coached India in the mid-2000s, writes. "He was rarely rushed, and even the best bowlers found it difficult to keep him quiet for long.

"The cut was my favourite [Tendulkar] shot because he always took the ball at the top of the bounce and struck it with a slightly downward blow, with his weight coming back into the ball. He rarely mistimed the stroke, which says that his reading of length was impeccable."

The book features interviews with Tendulkar down the years (including a joint one with Brian Lara), and articles by a number of leading cricket writers, among them Gideon Haigh, Suresh Menon, Harsha Bhogle, Sharda Ugra, Sidharth Monga, Rahul Bhattacharya, Jon Hotten and Ayaz Memon. The fourth book from ESPNcricinfo, it is published by Penguin Books India, and is available in hard cover and as an ebook.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 5:30 GMT

    He is a Honourable Man and he was a good captain.

  • Chetan on March 3, 2014, 2:45 GMT

    Sachin never liked captaincy ..he was too nice for that job....

  • Bunnie on March 2, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    Tendulkar's legacy falling fast after retirement. A lot of people defending his position as great batsmen, great captain, great team player etc. It's hard to take notice of people like Ganguly when the facts simply do not lie. He was a poor captain, seems like he wasn't much of a team player as Ganguly himself says and the only thing he has done as a batsman is be selected more times than warranted to allow him to get his records.

  • Suresh on March 2, 2014, 4:35 GMT

    Au contraire, Tendulkar was much poorer as a captain than his record shows,period. Whoever says Tendulkar was a better captain doesn't know anything about captaincy in cricket.

  • Dummy4 on March 2, 2014, 0:09 GMT

    For me the best overseas captain was none other than rahul dravid. Under him India won in England (almost 2-0) and won their first test match in SA, won in WI and after quitting the same side under kumble also competed strongly in Australia. This was a team with Sachin out of form and inconsistent, vvs layman up and down, dhoni just came to the side, sehwag out of form and so was bhajji. All he had was an inexperienced bowling attack in sreesanth, rp singh, munaf patel etc. which did well in such places - batting let India down in SA as well as in MCG against Australia. So he managed bowlers very well.

  • KISH on March 1, 2014, 23:04 GMT

    @Arijit_in_TO, The also-ran Indian team was just maturing when Ganguly took over. In fact, Ganguly had the best Indian team ever to take the field. Tendulkar had a role in that maturing phase. VVS.Laxman, for Instance, could have been dropped for good if it wasn't for Tendulkar to see his immense potential. India was better for all the losses it had under Tendulkar. Having said that, I do agree with you that captaincy is not just about cricketing brain and what you see on the field. But, I can only comment on what I see. I will be a fool if I say Ganguly wasn't a good captain. Ganguly brought in his fantastic attitude to the team. He also understood the strengths of his players. But, not as unbiased as Tendulkar. Ganguly's treatment of Kumble, Murali Karthik and Kambli, when he came back into the team, weren't very good. Dhoni also is a good captain. But only in ODI's. In tests, he is a sleeping captain. In ODI's he is THE BEST.

  • Al on March 1, 2014, 21:44 GMT

    Tendulkar has to be the worst India captain ever!! Dhoni lost 0-8 against England and Australia because he had deadwood like Tendulkar, Laxman, and Sehwag in his team. Dravid was also a deadwood against Australia. All 4 were way past their prime but chose not to retire to make some extra bucks in the IPL. Tendulkar knew very well that no Indian selector would dare to drop him off the Indian team and he took full advantage of that fact.

  • naresh on March 1, 2014, 20:02 GMT

    One more thing about Sahin's captaincy: (and really, Ganguly cannot say this out loud) - he had Kapil Dev and Madan Lal as "coach" for the tough tours to SA and Australia. Beat THAT. Further more, there were these selectors who were hell bent on NOT giving him the team he wanted and instead foisting upon him players like Doda Ganesh and "some guy called Johnson".

    On the other hand, once Dada became captain, he basically had the political backing of Dalmiya. And a lot else (including series with Zimbabwe and so on).

  • Arijit_in_TO on March 1, 2014, 14:18 GMT

    I respectfully disagree with spinkingkk on his assessment of Dravid as captain. Dravid was far too deferential to Greg Chappel's quackery and the result was a divisive and divided team whose results were disastrous. Captaincy isn't just about a cricketing brain; if it were then Tendulkar and Dravid would have been amongst the best. Captaincy is also about the type of leadership, management style, strategy, and a tactical nous for the situation. No one captain has all the elements but we need to step back and remember what Indian cricket was when Ganguly inherited it: a mediocre also ran. He wasn't the greatest tactician but John Wright's respect for people and calm demeanour, Ganguly gave chances and brought aggression to the a indian team. I too have watched Indian cricket for a long time and found that Ganguly was the right captain for a more assertive Indian team that was willing to dish it out after years of taking it.

  • KISH on March 1, 2014, 13:27 GMT

    Tendulkar, indeed, was a good captain. One of the most important qualities in a captain is that he should understand the strength (not weakness) of his players. Tendulkar understood those strength very well. Dhoni will instead understand the weakness of his players and scare them to leave the team. Tendulkar didn't have a settled team like Dhoni or Ganguly had. That was the reason why he wasn't very successful. Also, as Ganguly mentioned, he had some tough tours as captain. In my opinion, Dravid was the best captain India ever had, since I have started watching cricket. Kapildev was the first captain I have seen and he was brilliant. Shastri would have been the best ever. But, never got the chance. I hope India brings Gambhir back and make him the test captain. Kohli can learn captaincy in ODI's in the meantime.