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30 Mar 2007

Yes, Off with Sachin!

Posted by Oblivion in General | 2:02am

People have been asking for his head for years now. Let's finish with it. Let's pull Sachin out of the team. Every time he fails to score and the team loses, media decide he's past his prime. I'm just tired of this non-stop nonsense. The Times of India, India's no.1 entertainment daily (The Times of India of the 80s and that of now - what a tragic transition!), keeps asking "Is this Sachin's last ODI innings?" It gets as irritating as Mandira Bedi's analysis of Australia's victory does.

Sachin will be 34 in April, and every goddamn newschannel cribs as if he is 45 and has been rendered, by age, ineligible to play any more cricket. He has better record in 2006 than most players, but he is given only a below par rating because India's record doesn't match up. Is it one man's fault if the team fares bad? Nobody asks what the ten other idiots were doing when Sachin fails.

India have won 29 out of 41 times when Sachin scored a century in ODIs. Even Bradman would certify that it's an incredible record. He has the highest number of runs in World Cup and topped the charts two times. No Ponting or Lara or Jayasuriya or Inzamam has managed that. If not for his superior performance in the 2003 outing, India wouldn't have even made it to the finals. He failed to fire in the final and everybody nailed him! "Sachin is finished", they said! It is indeed the mark of a great batsman to come good in crucial matches, but no batsman in the world can do it every time.

Yes, his performance has dipped in the past couple of years, but he is not so woefully out of form as Sehwag is. If record is the criterion and sacking is the solution, then the team will have only debutants! Even with a string of unusual number of low scores, Sachin's record during this period is not very bad in comparison with that of Dravid.

Comparison with Ponting comes up every time. Ponting has the advantage of belonging to a great team and a less celebrity-obsessed culture. Australian team's confidence level is high and it's not as dependent on individual performances as India's is. Check the number of times Australia lost when Ponting had failed and that India lost when Sachin had failed. It tells the story.

Expectations don't get as high with Ponting, or any batsman else for that matter, as they do with Sachin. And the 24x7 channels make it all the more difficult. Everything is hyped up and the weight of expectation grows. Any great batsman in his thirties will get mindfucked if he is expected by millions to score a century every time he walks out to bat. Even younger chaps fine it tough to cope up with such pressure - Pathan and Dhoni are good examples. Sachin has the grit to not let that effect in nervous breakdown - that he has been playing for almost two decades proves it. It'd be good if media go slow and realise how important it is for the game to have such players. If a writer wins the Man Booker with his debut novel, and you expect him to win it with every book hence, writing will become a nightmare for him.

He gets hit on the helmet and they say he can't read pace any more! It does good to remember that he was hit, on occasion, even in the early days of his career. And it's stupid to relate an occasional lapse to a slip in ability or agression. On his day, he can be the most destructive batsman in the world. McGrath lamented that Sachin treated him like a club bowler in the '96 world cup. Warne's nightmares are all too well-known. Akram, Waqar, Ambrose, Walsh, Donald, Shoaib - everyone will tell you of Sachin's exploits. The only contemporary batsman who troubled bowlers as much is Lara. McGrath, Pollock, Vaas dismissed Sachin more frequently than Waqar, Lee, Shoaib did. So, the talk about his dip in ability to read pace is bullshit.

If we sack Sachin, whom do we bank on? Young blood and Dravid? Dravid is undoubtedly among the all-time best, but his strength is consolidation. Very rarely has one seen Dravid pull off a victory with just a tailender for company. Check the rareguard exploits of Sachin, Lara and Inzamam for comparison. And who are these mysterious young chaps that media refer to? Get 11 chaps in their late teens or early twenties and you get a great team? Haven't we experimented with n number of those young chaps already, only to find a couple of promising players? Young chaps who play cricket are million in number in this country, but to find a replacement for Sachin is an altogether different business.

Dealing with hypotheses is damn easy, and media thrive on this practice. Opt for experience and lose, and they will say "low on adrenaline. You should've tried young blood". Opt for youth and lose, and they will say "audacious, insensible experiment. You should've banked on experience and wisdom". Since the promise of hypothesis beats the harshness of reality, there are always millions of takers for these. Get a few of those, make them yell, spice it up with your own articulation and silly analysis, and you get a great story to reflect, as they claim, national mood. The TRPs go up, number of advertisers go up, you get a hike, and the business objectives are met. How do you care how the team does? Reality comes with so many open endings that you can play with hypotheses for eternity.

Let appreciation of sport go to the dogs, media just want stories to up their audience and advertising revenue. I really want to see Sachin out of the team. Then, I'd absolutely enjoy watching the newsreader on Times Now referring to the absence of Sachin as the reason for India's failure, watching a few cranks on one of the NDTV's debate shows questioning the selection committee's decision to drop Sachin, and watching Rajdeep Sardesai indicate an SMS poll result that suggests 86% feel Sachin should be retained.

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1 Comments | "Yes, Off with Sachin!" »

  1. By Bond

    2 Apr 2007, 2:18pm [ Reply ]


    I don't have any doubts on Sachin caliber but he can't play for another 4 years and if we are planning for next worldcup better to drop Sachin and groom some youngsters

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