S Radhakrishnan, better known as RK, is a sports freak. After dabbling in the world of Physics at the Madras Christian College, he did his Masters in Business Administration from Mumbai. Working in a corporate world didn’t suit him and he decided to enter the world of journalism. During his stint with ESPN Star Sports, RK covered the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2003, before moving on to join NEO Sports as their prime anchor. He is now the face of NEO Prime and NEO Sports.
'Sach' a big question
Posted on: 11:03 AM IST Sep 07, 2012 IST
Three innings and three similar dismissals have turned the world into a court room. Plenty of lawyers in the garb of players and journalists have jumped into decide the fate of Sachin Tendulkar - a man who by choice has returned to competitive cricket in the series against New Zealand.
The first and the most valuable question that needs to be asked is - is the concerned individual valuable to the team? If the answer to that is yes, then he should be in the team. It sounds a simple question and therefore a simple answer though the mode of evaluations and the individuals concerned makes it a bit more complicated than it usually gets to be. So should we get into aspects of evaluations at all and if yes, what should they be?
Runs and the value that one brings to the dressing room are two broad areas under which you would want to evaluate a player's importance. In an Indian context under the current scenario, you might want to include the fact that the next couple of years are extremely critical in shaping up the team for the future. While runs are quantifiable, the value that Tendulkar brings cannot be defined or in some cases explained quantitatively. For example, the amount of experience and learning that a young Cheteshwar Pujara or an Ajinkya Rahane gets by observing him bat in the nets or in the middle will be immense. While you may, on circumstantial evidence not get the amount of runs that you probably would have got from the Tendulkar of the old, his presence in the dressing room is of immense value.
Tendulkar's numbers in the Tests in England and Australia are worth looking at even for people who might want to discount the intangible that he brings to the team i.e. value and concentrate on the tangible runs he scores for the team. Not great numbers and definitely not great by his lofty standards but if he has a case at all, it is this - in England in the summer of 2011, he had two half-centuries and averaged just over 34 runs per innings, next only to Rahul Dravid; though Dravid scored on an average 40 runs more per innings than Tendulkar. In Australia, in the eight innings he played, Tendulkar averaged close to 36; again second strictly in terms of numbers behind Virat Kohli. Are these numbers by themselves enough to keep Tendulkar in the team? Or should these numbers be evaluated in the context of what the dressing room managed after their long flights to England and Australia? Would be tempted to think, you will have to take an overall rationale view of the situation.
Talking of rationality, the problem with being Tendulkar is that we have never ever been rational in expecting things out of Tendulkar. The more he scored, the more we wanted. There was never a need, in our eyes to Tendulkar score. There was always an over powering greed when Tendulkar came in to bat.
Therefore, even when a batsman of the repute of Sunil Gavaskar factors in age and therefore reflexes, our reactions vary from sympathy to pain to astonishment. A few even jumped in to sensationalize things. People who "sympathise" probably believe they have seen the very best of Tendulkar and therefore cannot afford to see anything less than the best from their master. People who are "pained" are again people who perhaps were die hard Tendulkar fans unable to bear anything but his dominant self in every innings. Somehow with Tendulkar, the words perception and reality have always been at the farthest ends of the spectrum. The bars have always been the highest. Rarely have we accepted Tendulkar for what he is. We have always wanted more. Rarely have the die hard fans perceived him to be human and therefore age, they believe is perhaps something that will never catch up with the man.
For the rest, it was about being objective and looking at numbers and those numbers needing to be measured in the context of Tendulkar alone. It is time maybe we climb down from our respective positions to evaluate the presence and the value of Tendulkar. Not necessarily to win an argument in the court room but to perhaps see the need of Tendulkar in that Indian dressing room. I still think he is of immense value, and I am not a lawyer.