I was fortunate to spend plenty of time with Sachin Tendulkar as the India coach and can state with authority that, contrary to general perception, he was an excellent captain.
One thing to remember is that during his first stint, Sachin led on tours to South Africa and the West Indies, and when he returned as captain later, he toured Australia. So, while his Test captaincy record might not be flattering, it doesn’t tell the real story.
I found him to be a very shrewd and thinking captain, but he never made his displeasure obvious. If anything, he internalised his emotions, and did his best to get the best out of his teammates.
India won three of the first four Tests with Sachin at the helm, all at home. But he had a young and relatively immature batting unit at his disposal. Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid had just made their Test debuts when Sachin became the skipper in 1996, and VVS Laxman’s Test debut came under him.
Still, we came very close to winning Tests overseas. In Johannesburg in 1997, we were on course for a famous victory when rain intervened on the final day. In Bridgetown the same year, we were chasing just 120. It would have been a historic win because we had never won in Barbados, but when we lost, I could sense Sachin’s massive disappointment.
A captain is only as good as his team, and if Sachin had continued for another couple of years, he would have been vastly more successful. It wasn’t that he didn’t like captaincy, but for some reason he didn’t find the atmosphere conducive.
Captaincy never affected his batting. For me, Sachin the skipper was more than just about statistics. He was a true leader of men, but the fact that he had set such high standards and needed to keep raising the bar meant he found thinking for 14 or 15 other players perhaps slightly difficult.
Madan Lal was India coach when Sachin Tendulkar was captain