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'Sachin has built a wall around himself'

Joining in the fresh debate over Tendulkar's form, Mike Atherton says the Indian seems to have lost a bit of his instinctiveness.
None | By Press Trust of India, London
UPDATED ON MAR 26, 2006 08:15 PM IST

Joining in the fresh debate over Sachin Tendulkar's form, former England skipper Mike Atherton says the master batsman seems to have lost a bit of his "instinctiveness".

"Tendulkar has built a wall around himself, and that's how he bats now — I think he has lost a bit of instinctiveness," he says.

The Indian maestro is in the midst of a prolonged form slump and has slipped to his lowest ever Test rankings at 16, triggering off another debate over whether he had lost his magic touch.

But Atherton was all praise for Tendulkar's impeccable temperament.

"I think his greatness has been in the way he has coped with 17 years in a goldfish bowl. There's never been a story in the papers about him losing his temper," he said in a round table discussion with England coach, Duncan Fletcher, batsman Andrew Strauss and fellow writer Scyld Berry, published in 'The Sunday Telegraph'.

Strauss said he could not believe the reaction of some parts of this crowd in Mumbai to Tendulkar.

"I just can't imagine a guy who's made more than 70 international centuries turning up at Lord's and getting booed. He and Lara are the only two players who, while you're out there, part of you's hoping they will go on and get a big score even though you want to get them out. Rahul Dravid averages 58 but he doesn't have that aura."

Analysing England's victory in the Mumbai Test, the three were unanimous in their view that England had manged to rattle the much-vaunted Indian batting line up through some high-quality pace bowling. 

Fletcher felt "speed will always expose the flaws".

Atherton said England bowlers had exposed the flaws in the technique of batsmen like MS Dhoni.

"Dhoni got a rude awakening in this series. Before the Nagpur Test I watched him smashing every ball in practice off the front foot, and he must have thought he could do that to England's bowlers.

"Before Mumbai he had that Australian (India's bio-mechanist Ian Frazer) bowling bouncers at him with a bowling machine. I think a few of them got a wake-up call," he said.

Atherton said the bottom hand grip of players like Virender Sehwag made them susceptible to bounce.

"If you see how some of their batsmen hold the bat — like Sehwag, Sachin and Dhoni — with a strong bottom-handed grip, they will always struggle against bounce."

Fletcher said England deserved to win the Mumbai match.

"Some great sides have come out here and gone away beaten. I think we deserved to win — if you count up the sessions in this series, I think you'll find we won most of them.

"The Ashes win has got to be judged as the best, but one-all here with such a young side was very close to it, along with those great wins in Pakistan and Sri Lanka."

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