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SurferSpeak: Leave Tendulkar alone!

We Indians really do not know how to respect or take care of our heroes.
None | By Prem Sanjay Vuthandam, New Jersey, Usa
UPDATED ON FEB 01, 2007 03:58 AM IST

Whether it is a saint from the past, a freedom fighter, or a current icon in any industry. We seem to have a problem with successful people. We always are trying to bring down our current stars - either it's suspicion or jealousy, or whatever other reason, after putting them on a pedestal ourselves! It's a fact.

Take the example of one of our all-time hero and exemplary sportsperson - on the field and off it - Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. He has been forced to single-handedly take care of scoring runs for the past two decades - not that he asked for the responsibility! Remember, this is a team game! We expect him to score a century each time he steps in to bat! He never claimed to be a "God", as some of us referred to him as, in the past.

Extremely talented, hard-working genius? Yes he is all that and then some. Well, the reason for me writing this article is that I heard all the so-called experts on TV/newspapers calling for his head, along with many non-experts and the general public at large. So I was wondering if he was really in that bad of form that he has to be dropped?

I pulled up his stats along with all the other Indian batsmen who have played at least five games during the 2006/2007 season (including the third ODI against West Indies in Chennai). Well among all of the nine "batsmen", take a look at where the little master stands: Table 1

 Players  Matches Runs   HS Bat Av  100   50
 Tendulkar  14  480  141*  36.92  1  3
 Dravid  12  358  63  32.54  0  4
 Dhoni  13  336  62*  30.54  0  3
 Karthik  13  6  63  22.60  0  1
 Pathan  8  148  64  21.14  0  1
 Raina  10  131  34  16.37  0  0
Yuvraj  5  64  27*  16.00  0  0
 Kaif  6  80  30  16.00  0  0
 Sehwag  10  148  65  14.80  0  1

Sachin has played 14 games in all at an average of almost 37 - the best among all batsmen who played this season! His overall career average is almost 44. So is he really out of form that warrants dropping him? Then lets take a look at the rest. Dhoni and Dravid are the only two other players who have an average of above 30! And then look at the rest! No wonder India is such a pathetic team!

Now lets take a look at how the current worlds top batsmen have been doing the last season.

Table 2:

 Players  Matches  Runs  HS Bat Av   100  50
 Tendulkar  14  480  141*  36.92  1  3
 Pointing  14  460  111  38.33  1  5
 Lara  19  472  87  33.71  0  3
 Gilchrist  11  298  92  27.09  0  3
 Hayden  8  324  117  46.28  1  1
 Hussey  14  392  109*  98.00  1  1
 Gibbs  9  225  93  32.14  0  2
 Kallis  11  332  119*  36.88  1  1
 Strauss  8  210  56  26.25  0  2
 Yousuf  5  153  71  51.00  0  1

The flavour of the day - Ricky Ponting, the guy who has hit a purple patch, is just about the same average as Tendulkar. Instead, Sachin has scored more runs than him in the same number of games! You don't see Australians calling for Ricky Ponting's head to be dropped from their ODI team!! See all the other players' runs/averages. Hussey has an average of 98! His average is highly inflated due to the fact he has been not out so many times, as he comes down the order.

But he has scored almost 100 runs less than Tendulkar in the same number of games! And no, India has not played minnows like Kenya, Zimbabwe or Bangladesh the past season! And lets not forget about his contribution as a bowler. Here is how he compares to our current top bowler Zaheer Khan, who is in the team solely as a bowler:

Table 3

 Players  Matches Balls  Runs Wkts  bbi bbm   Ave Eco   Sr
 Zaheer  113  5623  4587  164  4/19  4/19  27.96  4.89  34.28
 Sachin  337  7607  6398  146  5/32  5/32  43.82  5.04  52.10

While the strike rate may not be great, his economy is pretty close to that of Zaheer. And he has taken 146 wickets. Not a mean achievement for a "part time bowler". None of the other top batsmen the past season mentioned above except Kallis even bowl! At least in ODIs we can classify him as a true all rounder.

So my question is - Is Sachin Tendulkar so bad on current batting form that he needs to be kicked out? Well the above stats do not warrant that! Whether we like it or not, he is the best we have! He is a genius, and I personally feel that there are two reasons (assuming he is 100 per cent fit), that he is not doing as well as we expect him to, these days.

First is the fact that he is told to be the "anchor" and cut out most of his aggressive strokes, as he is a senior player and the rest of the team should play around him and Dravid. Well, Sachin is in the mould of Viv Richards - their best form of defence is to attack!

Secondly, I think finally, the weight of the entire nations expectations, and his own, are cowing him down. It's probably getting to him mentally, and he really is under a lot of pressure. That's why he tentatively prods (bringing the bat down late) and ends up getting lbw or caught inside the circle with half-hearted shots.

The so-called experts, all and sundry are talking about how "bad" a batsman he is now, and the same impatient/unreasonable guys who are calling for his head will praise him if he scores a century the next game. Then the two games after that, if he "fails", it will start all over again.

Yes, Indians are emotional people. Remember that Sachin is an Indian too. A self-respecting one, at that. Don't hurt him so much that he decides to call it quits before his time!

Prem Sanjay Vuthandam is based in USA and can be contacted

All views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the surfer and do not necessarily represent those of

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