April 2, 2010

Tendulkar's golden captaincy run

The Mumbai Indians captain is backing youngsters and using Malinga and McLaren intelligently; but his side must be cautious of peaking early

An English player directs a profanity towards an opponent and Kevin Pietersen defends him saying cricket isn't "for girls". Andrew Symonds is asked whether he used abusive language against another player and he said this was cricket and it wasn't "for boys". We could reasonably infer from these two incidents that they did not mean cricket was for women and small children. So, voila, we now know what a game for men is all about! And all those who told us manhood was about being courageous and cultured were just ignorant misfits. So all you young men out there, waiting to step into the real world, follow the Pietersen and Symonds Almanack: practise the right swear words and defend them with all your honour, for then "you'll be a man, my son". What a pity. Maybe we should just watch them, then, and not hear them, because there is actually much to admire there.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Yousuf has retired "for now". There is nothing unusual about that, except that few others before him actually announced it that way. Many great players across eras have retired and returned. Jordan did and Schumacher has and Yousuf's great countryman Imran did - maybe influenced by the ladies' stand chanting "Kabhi alvida na kehna" (never say goodbye) in Lahore during the 1987 World Cup semi-final. While you never know what tomorrow brings in Pakistan cricket, you cannot help get the feeling that this is it for an extremely classy player, who for all his grace and style and runs always had a cloud hovering above him. So with Inzamam gone, and presumably Younis and Yousuf too, you have to wonder who will carry the legacy of great Test batsmen from Pakistan. Hopefully there is a kid out there who wants to play long innings. Maybe Umar Akmal, who has impressed many.

And at the IPL, Sachin Tendulkar continues his purple patch, this time not just as batsman but as captain. He must enjoy this because while his inbox is forever full of accolades about his batting, the captaincy folder has not always been overflowing. But in the first half of the IPL, his leadership has been a breath of fresh air.

Tendulkar's challenge, though, will be to keep his team hungry game after game. Sometimes a winning streak can pose a leadership challenge; players can become complacent, start believing they merely need to turn up

In the first game he backed his youngsters, Saurabh Tiwary, Ambati Rayudu and R Sathish, and played only three overseas players. In every game thereafter he has given these young players the confidence they need by sending them out at crucial moments. Tiwary, for example, has retained his No. 4 slot ahead of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, Rayudu gets to bat at No. 5, and even Sathish, just returning from the ICL, has a clearly defined role: if he gets 15 or 20 in quick time at the end, and does little else, his captain seems quite happy with him.

Bravo and Pollard occasionally get the No. 3 slot to allow themselves to rediscover form, but I think the best move of all has been to put Ryan McLaren in the side and, in doing so, freeing Lasith Malinga to play the role Tendulkar likes him to: bowl after the new ball and at the death. It helps that McLaren can bat, and indeed the Mumbai Indians now have three allrounders in crucial areas and a floater in Sathish. McLaren doesn't mind bowling up front and that allows Malinga to bowl no more than one over early on, leaving his captain with enough options at the end.

Tendulkar's challenge, though, will be to keep his team hungry game after game. Sometimes a winning streak can pose a leadership challenge; players can become complacent, start believing they merely need to turn up. Already against the King's Xl Punjab they looked ready for the picking and only just scraped through against the weakest side (who are a story in themselves). Hopefully that was a wake-up call for Tendulkar, and if it was, much good will come out of it.

But the team to watch, as ever, is the Rajasthan Royals. Shane Warne is both persuasive leader and child-like colleague. Yes, you read right. I've met him at the toss and at the post-match presentation a few times and he has been excited as a child. That's interesting: one of the greatest cricketers of all time plays a man's game with a child-like fervour. So can the two go together? Maybe that's one for Kevin and Andrew to mull over.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 6, 2010, 16:20 GMT

    what a bunch of trolls here.... Sachin is anyday brainier than any recent cricketer, to add to his batting skills. He is selfish... ahh right, go sit in front of a mirror and chant that a million times, may be it turns true! What Saad and Carnage2 said is apt... its not his Responsibility to ensure victory, he can only do his bit in a team game. What good was Ponting when he had under performing bowlers in 2 Ashes series? Saurav's captaincy is hyped too much.. He was a good leader, without doubt, but what would he have done without Dravid and Kumble, who between them were responsible for more than 80% of his Test wins? Its a team game, learn to respect the fact that outcomes depend on team play and give credit to genius in the individual skills where its due. Rest is all crap!

  • Dayanidhi on April 6, 2010, 11:54 GMT

    One thing which is glaring is that the Mumbai Indians outfit is totally non mumbaikar outfit except the leader and we talk about grooming youngsters in IPL when its all only Vitamin M.The next IPL, i want two new rules-mandatory 4 players from the particular state of any IPL team and no imports from other states having IPL franchise. Sathish playing for Mumbai,Kohli for benguluru and Rohit Sharma playing for Hyderabad is unacceptable. Else lets change the names of the bandwagons. Dayanidhi

  • Aditya on April 6, 2010, 6:03 GMT

    Sachin Tendulkar was born to bat, Sourav Ganguly was born to lead. They've both contributed immensely to Indian cricket. Tendulkar showed that Indian batsmen could play the best bowling attacks with aplomb and Dada instilled the belief that winning anywhere was possible. Our core group of players in limited overs cricket was hand picked by him. Let's not create controversy by trying to compare their skils.

  • Naveen on April 5, 2010, 13:34 GMT

    @KrazzyIndian..You stole the words from my mouth. Why would Harsha want to compliment his captaincy skills?. When Sachin had all the powers when he was captain, he brought in 6 - 7 Maharastrian players into the team..A captain is responsible for selecting the team. It is for sure that he did a poor job as a captain, hanging on to his friends V.Kambli and Co. Think about Ganguly for a moment, Yes he did have couple of bengali babus and Rohan Gavaskar in his team. But he was the one who showed us without Sachin's contribution India can still win.. I would like to ask how many of you switched off your TV after Sachin got out in Natwest Trophy finals (2002) against England. I don't see his captaincy is any good for Team India

  • Sivaram on April 5, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    People who call Sachin a selfish guy is different in many ways and they wanted to have their own identity among ocean of Sachin's supporters. They call him selfish, not a match winner, poor captain, Tax waiver and more worse things. It seems as though they have incurable inferiority complex, not properly cared by their parents, dumped by their girl friends & cursed by their friends in real world and they are longing for someone to talk or atleast fight them by writing something against reality and that too in modern mass media where no one has any identity and many people will start commenting without reading what the story is all about...Nice Article HB...Gud it would have been without comparisions about KP & Andrew.

  • krazzy on April 4, 2010, 20:55 GMT

    I am confident Harsha B is going to author a book titled "The art of making a career out of kissing Sachins Behind".

  • Harsh on April 4, 2010, 15:18 GMT

    @carnage2 exactly .. forget us.... forget the critics. We will be sad for a day or two, when his runs were short to win for India in few occasions. But, Just imagine, what would he be telling everyone in dressing room on field to his close friends and to even himself for long long long 20 years. Its just telling himself and other team members "hey don't worry" this might be the match for us. This might be the WC for us. I have been in to situation myself, in even gully cricket, where I scored good enough runs but still we have lost the match. You know what it doesn't feel great. I don't taste dinner same on that day. You know what never mind. I have decided to ignore the troll and at least not feed the leeches. The reason why I see jealousy coming, because he has break the barrier of expectation long time ago for me. What ever he is doing for India is "Desert" for me, I have already ate the full lunch and full dinner. Peace

  • thanga on April 4, 2010, 8:57 GMT

    Take bow!!!!!!Master.....

  • arjun on April 4, 2010, 8:38 GMT

    "Its pity that Sachin have to face such hypocrisy from his own country even after he has served his country like nobody have achieved." ----------------- some people are too much jealous of someone else success. Those who make such poor comments about other successful players are one of two types of people : (1) who can not stand others being successful or (2) they can not stand the fact that their beloved player is not as good as player they hate. In this case of sachin, these are the players who want their heroes to be as successful as sachin. But since their heroes can not achieve things sachin has achieved, they try to belittle his achievements. They live in denial and telling the truth is not gonna change them.

  • Steve on April 4, 2010, 7:36 GMT

    I'm having hard time understanding the definition of these guys to call sumone "Selfish cricketer" , if scoring 100's in a losing cause is being Selfish , then Lara is more Selfish.Only 8 of his 34 test hundreds have resulted in WI win.if Getting big scores in a losing cause means you don't care about your country then Sachin is not the only one guilty of this.2 Aussies RTP and Haydos hold the records of highest scores in a losing cause in both major forms of the game.Were they selfish that they couldn't play a match winning knock? Hashim Amla tried everything to avoid defeat in Kolkata , but couldn't do it. was he selfish? Herchelle gibbs got out without finishing the job on 175 too in that epic 434 run chase , but his teammates in the end were just good enough to get the team over the line , had SA lost the match , would that be considered as selfish too from gibbs.RTP also scored 160 odd in that match , was it selfish from ricky ponting , was he only caring abt his personal records

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