2007 : Judge Tendulkar by today’s standardsHarsha Apr 17th, 2016
During a break at Wimbledon this year, Martina Navratilova said something very interesting about champion players. “It’s not about how good they are when they are playing well, it’s about how good they are when they aren’t playing well.” It is a statement that is staggeringly true because not everyone can play well at all times in a career.
Most good players look excellent when they are playing well and ordinary when not. The truly great always seem to have something to offer even when their game has dropped a couple of notches. That is just one reason why it has been fascinating to watch Sachin Tendulkar at Nottingham. We have condemned Tendulkar to beauty and greatness. That is a heavy burden to carry and he has done it with some style over many years. But neither Jordan nor McEnroe nor Woods have been able to look unbeatable all the time. And Tendulkar cannot look unbeatable anymore unless he wills the clock back. Nobody we know has been able to do that.
But unlike a Borg, Tendulkar is looking mortality in the eye and is willing to scrap. And so if we are willing to judge him differently, we will still be able to savour his skill and let the heart skip a beat. We need to judge him as he is today, as indeed we must Ganguly, and not by the near insurmountable standards he achieved at his peak. The problem is with us for we worshipped him like a god and now condemn him for not living up to godliness!!
And so if we are willing to look upon Tendulkar as a character actor, as a piece in an ensemble, we will look back with much joy at his 91 at Nottingham. Remember there are young men trying to knock his head off and he is fighting an equal battle. It was a good tough innings and it contributed to an Indian win. So too with Anil Kumble whose character shines every time he steps onto the field for India. His batting has declined alarmingly but not his grit; and his thirty runs, chiselled out with no fanfare were invaluable. And he continues to take wickets.
Tendulkar and Kumble represent the admirable face of sport, often in short supply these days. I would like to believe that to be on the field, in the dressing room, in the team bus, at dinner with them would be priceless education for some others in this side. Sadly Sreesanth, a fine, gifted cricketer, but one with an eye on the camera as much as on the batsman, is letting this experience go by. Tendulkar and Kumble are willing to look less than perfect for the performance that will benefit the team. Sreesanth is showing a sad ability to concentrate on being a performer of another kind and is hurting the team and himself.
Sport has no place for those who squander ability. And I am afraid team India should soon have no place for show ponies when at last they are looking like a team of scrappers. Sreesanth is a passionate young man who has been gifted an ability that is rare. But like some young men before him, he is showing a tendency to play to the gallery. It is the fastest way to ruin. It might help him to get off the media for a while, ignore the fringes of success and return to the main menu. I hope he realises that in the sport he so obviously loves, it is his performance and not his antics, Johannesburg not Nottingham, that will win him respect.
And I hope the test at Nottingham is remembered for the tough cricket on view, not for some of the puerile, childish stuff we saw. Peter Moores wants the stump microphones turned down so we don’t hear what his players say. It might just be easier not to say it! And if he heard some of the things being said, he might have worried about the intelligence of the boys playing for him. India contributed as well and I hope at the Oval we see more of the brilliant bat vs ball contests we have had at Lords and Nottingham and rather less of the lip. In effect, more of the Zaheer Khan kind of cricket.
In all the years I have seen him play, I have never seen him bowl better. He looked relaxed in delivery stride and there was a fine rhythm to his bowling.More than anything else, he was consistent. There’s a story there for people who want to see it. Cut the frills and put in the yards and wait for the knock on the door.
Published: August 3, 2007
Pic Source: Blogspot