An 'unbowlable' batsman of my era
Sachin is 33 now. Gulliver of our times is being held down by Lilliputs, writes Wasim Akram.india Updated: Apr 25, 2006 15:40 IST
This Monday, Sachin Tendulkar celebrated his 33rd birthday. Most cricketers can have nine lives and still wouldn't go beyond the foothills of his achievements.
Yet, there is a call for his head. The Gulliver of our times is being held down by the Lilliputs. Liberate him and you would still enjoy the genius of this man who has been one of the greatest cricketers ever to walk on this earth.
I have no time for all these tales coming out of India. Tendulkar is finished; he can't face up to short-pitched bowling; he is being "carried" in the team; he should choose between two forms of the game; his injured frame is somehow being held together and horror of horrors, the time has come to look beyond him.
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From being toast of the nation for a decade and a half, it would now appear as if he stands between the team and the golden future. Shame on all!
I sometimes wonder if all this affects Tendulkar. Beyond the profile of equanimity in public, he is after-all a human and it must hurt.
Tendulkar has clearly been one of the three best batsmen I have ever seen on a cricket field. I would rate him alongwith Viv Richards and Sunny Gavaskar as the "unbowlable" batsmen of my era.
I remember there was a time when I would put my ability to question only because Gavaskar was still not in my bag.
Finally I had him in Hyderabad — caught in the second slip! The memory of it is still so refreshing. With Tendulkar too we always went to the field thinking if we get him, we would be through. And so it was most of the times!
I would even rate Tendulkar as better than Brian Lara. The world can swoon over the records and mercurial ability of the West Indian but for me Tendulkar brings infinite value to the dressing room.
You judge a man by the respect he gets within his own set of men. Tendulkar is beyond reproach on this issue; Lara would only set the tongues wagging.
Too much is being made of his injuries. It is not unnatural for a long-serving sportsman to fall foul with fitness. I too was beset with scores of injuries in my career; if it was not groin, then hamstring; if it wasn't shoulder, then knees. But I kept rousing myself from the surgeon's table and doing my stuff on the field. Tendulkar would do likewise.
Tendulkar's passion on the field is so palpable: it's not the sight of a cricketer who is on his last legs. It is also utter nonsense to suggest he is no longer up to the short pitched bowling. Piece of cake that is what it is to him.
Tendulkar is out of touch, his footwork may not be the best at the moment but it doesn't bring to question his ability. He is just one innings away from good form. I have sensed so in all those little knocks he has played in the recent season.
Still, I would advise him to go out and enjoy his one-day cricket. He has imposed too many shackles on himself.
At the moment if I have to choose between Virender Sehwag, Shahid Afridi and Tendulkar as my set of openers, I would go for the first two names and that is an indictment in itself for the little genius.
Tendulkar appears too concerned with the proper shot and staying till the end rather than flow with the mood and the spirit of limited overs cricket.
In a way, this is the time he should do it. There is no dearth of daredevils in the Indian team and the pressure is off him. He no longer needs to get weighed down by the burden of his team.
Tendulkar can return to his roots which was all breathless audacity in its basis. The bowlers would have nowhere to run; as it would be the case with these hopeless critics!