The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sachin Tendulkar’s repeated dismissals in New Zealand for poor scores have been defended by “experts” as either because of the “best ball of the match” or as “position number four in the batting order”. By not being objective in their analyses, these men have not only eroded their own credibility, but also insulted the “little master”.

Every cricket-lover acknowledges that the “little master” has done enough to be rated among the premier batsmen in the world. He has scored runs batting at every conceivable position, from the opening slot to the middle order, for India, has played match-winning innings against the best bowlers, including Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Waqar Yunus et al.

Hence, could the experts spare us the suggestion that his recent poor scores are because of the change in his position in the batting order or because he got out to the best deliveries' Why not admit that our players were complacent and then just could not overcome their technical deficiencies on the New Zealand pitches'

Tendulkar is rational enough to know that no cricketer has it easy all the way. Cricket is a great leveller. Apart from Donald Bradman and George Headley (called the “Black Bradman” for his consistency), it is doubtful if any other top-class performer has been able to avoid the extremes of experience. Yes, Tendulkar’s latest average is as low as 0.66, only 2 runs from 3 innings — absolutely at the bottom of the batting average of Indian players.

Bad show

Cricket-lovers have been led to believe by some critics and commentators that Tendulkar and his senior mates have neither commitment nor application. But other veterans like Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid too have not shown the prowess that they are capable of. Ganguly’s 58 and Dravid’s 116 runs from 7 innings each are only slightly better in comparison to Tendulkar’s. It would be relevant here to mention that even Sunil Gavaskar scored 59 in 6 innings and Ravi Shastri 30 in 3 innings during India’s victory in the 1983 World Cup. Since Gavaskar and Shastri recovered from such ignominy, let us hope that Tendulkar and his mates will also show commendable character in the near future.

What is of greater concern today is the mysterious sickness or injury that Tendulkar seems to be suffering from. He did not play the 5 one-day internationals against the West Indies owing to some injury, which was not apparent during the test matches preceding the one-dayers, including a century knock at the Eden Gardens.

Then, after 2 tests against the Kiwis, he again avoided the first four one-dayers in New Zealand for some other ailment about which far-from-convincing reports reached the public. Finally, the dreadful scores of 1, 0 and 1 in the last 3 outings seem to be the last nail. For a batsman of his stature, 9 absences followed by 2 runs in 3 innings is a matter of grave concern.

Health is wealth

Indian cricket fans have every right to know the diagnosis and the extent of his injury. We need to know what steps, if any, are being taken by the physiotherapist of the Indian team or by the doctors in attendance. Hopefully, the national selectors will consult the specialist doctors before selecting an “injured” Tendulkar in future outings for India. We want a fit Tendulkar, not an ailing Tendulkar, to grace the team.

For India’s sake, Tendulkar has to recover physically. Once he is physically raring to go, psychologically he will be fine. He will once again be among the top scorers in international cricket. The only fear with Tendulkar is that those who flatter him and indulge in sycophancy might mislead him and cause his downfall.

With the World Cup just a few weeks away, Sachin Tendulkar has to use his intelligence, experience and discretion to realize that he must not allow anyone or anything to distract him from the job that he loves doing best : annihilation of bowlers. In it lies his own salvation.

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