Indian Cricket Team Captain In 2007 World Cup Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar – Hero, Villain or Victim?

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Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar – Hero, Villain or Victim?

Sachin Tendulkar. No name in Indian cricket evokes as much passion and emotion as his. No one else in the history of the game has had to carry the burden of such high expectations and demands as he has. In a country where cricket is more than a game, Sachin Tendulkar goes about his work with incredible humility and keeps his feet firmly on the ground. For that alone, they should be admired.

Ever since Sachin made his debut as a 16-year-old schoolboy, the spotlight has always been on him. When he came into the team, he was hailed as the next Sunil Gavaskar. Gavaskar, for his part, took a keen interest in mentoring his Mumbai comrade, a relationship that continues today. After making his mark on away tours of England and Australia, he was always hailed as both a hero and a villain. Perhaps no one in the history of cricket has had his game scrutinized, dissected and debated as much as Tendulkar’s game. But what is he really like? Is he truly a hero who charms a country of 1 billion with his abilities, or is he an opportunistic villain who abandons the very people who worship him in their time of need? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in between.

Tendulkar’s skill was never in doubt. His longevity and statistics alone are proof enough. However, it is hotly debated that he has not won enough matches for India in the past. This can be looked at in two ways. If you look at his ODI career from the mid-90s to the early millennium, you will find that whenever Sachin scored well, the team inevitably won the match. This was the time when he was at his peak and he opened the innings regularly. In those days, there was no one more reliable than Sachin Tendulkar in the Indian team. Remember the days when people used to turn off their TVs when he came out early. Whatever support he received from other team members was mostly a surprise. On the rare occasion that someone else raised their hands, we pinched ourselves in disbelief. Sachin was a one man army in those days. He made us forget that cricket is a team game played individually.

We can argue that Sachin has not been able to translate his good form or scores into Test wins overseas. Yes, very true. He could not. But we forget that in Tests, the side that takes 20 wickets wins. It’s more like a bowler’s game than a batsman’s game. One look at our bowling attack and we can see why we never won enough Tests overseas during Sachin’s peak. Barring Srinath, there was no other fast bowler worth mentioning. Our best bowler then was Kumble, a spinner. We need at least 3 good players to win matches abroad. I believe we would have won more matches if we had the current bowling attack.

Another counter-argument that can be raised is that Sachin has never been able to save enough Test matches, let alone win them. To a large extent this is true. Sachin failed miserably to anyone and everyone when the team was in dire straits. But to say he never did would be unfair to the man. Nor is it fair to say that it was only because of his ineptitude. Think back to the Test against Pakistan in Chennai when Sachin, nursing a serious back injury, soldiered on to lead us to a 16-run victory. We could still win the match with 3 wickets in hand. We lost the match by 12 times. Arguably, he should have been there until the end. But the fact remains: he had no support from the team. There were countless other occasions when he scored centuries in a losing cause. There were countless occasions when he disappointed us. But please tell me apart from Dravid, which other Indian batsman has fulfilled his promise time and again as many times as Sachin did in those days. He has an average of over 54 away from home, which few batsmen can boast of.

His captaincy also draws a lot of derision. We tend to forget that most of the series played under his captaincy were away games. Which Indian captain before him achieved away success? Only recently has India begun to change its fortunes away from home. A lot of that has to do with the new young breed of fast bowlers we’ve discovered. Tendulkar never had that luxury. He very often never got the players he wanted. The team he brought to Australia in 1999-2000 was probably the worst ever. Not to mention that several of his teammates were embroiled in a match-fixing scandal that forced him to quit the captaincy in disgust.

So why are we so doubtful about Sachin Tendulkar and his abilities? The answer is that Sachin had the misfortune of living in a media-driven world. A world where every couch potato who has never set foot on a cricket field in their life starts voicing their ‘expert’ opinion for the whole world to hear.

He was conceived by us as an icon because in his glory days there was no one who could hold a candle to him. He was the only beacon of light when all around him was darkness and despair. Now we criticize him because he is not the player he used to be. What did we expect? That he is a modern Peter Pan? Yes, he has aged. Yes, he is not the player he used to be. But tell me, is there a great talent out there waiting to replace him? Why then are we trying so desperately to get him to pack his bags for good? Even today Sachin Tendulkar can give you a 75 ball 100, maybe a 60 ball run in an ODI. Maybe first innings centuries every 3 Tests. And what? It’s just as good, if not better, than any major talent we can conjure up. Not to mention his vast experience, which is always an asset in difficult situations.

People ask if Sehwag can be dropped why not Sachin. They scream at the top of their lungs that breeders are showing double standards. Sehwag and Ganguy endured and gave chance after chance for over a year before they were dismissed. We cry for Sachin’s head as the series passes without a century. Tell me if we are showing double standards.

Sachin Tendulkar may not be the greatest ever. He may not be the greatest now. But he can give another 3 years of good cricket if not great cricket. Can’t we show him more respect and judge his performances objectively and not based on blind passion? The man deserves it for the 17 years of joy he gave us. We as a nation need to appreciate our heroes more because we don’t have many of them and we definitely won’t get someone like Sachin Tendulkar for some time. So enjoy the moments it gives you because it won’t last long.

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