Dear Kapil Paaji,
First things first. You are not the first person to criticise Sachin Tendulkar. Over the years, all of us have heard people find faults with his batting. People have said he played for personal milestones, that he slowed down when he was nearing a landmark, that he made centuries only when India lost (which statistics have since shown to be not very accurate), that he could not finish off chases after getting set.
We could sit here and crunch numbers and show most of these criticisms are unfounded, but you probably already know that.
But you sir, have brought up a rather unique point today – that he did not “justify his talent” and that “he could have done much more than what he did.” I must give it to you, that’s a first. Not even the staunchest critic of Sachin could say ‘Yaar, he did not make enough runs.’
You have also gone on to say that Sachin just knew how to make hundreds (a 100 of them in international cricket, if you recollect) and that he didn’t know how to make it a double hundred, or a triple or even 400s. He should have played more like Virender Sehwag and learned how to be ruthless from Sir Vivian Richards, you said.
Those statements seem a bit contradicting, if you believe these things called statistics. Of the two players you wanted Sachin to bat like, Sehwag has the same number of Test double-hundreds (six) and ODI double hundred (one) as Sachin. Sehwag and Sachin are joint-top of the list of double-centurions in Tests for India.
Even Viv Richards, a great man that he is, was not a big fan of making these daddy hundreds, with three in Tests and none in ODIs. Sachin, as it turns out, made a 200 in the less than 50 overs before anyone else could in the history of cricket.
It’s a little odd that you picked on something that Sachin has done quite well with over his 24-year long career.
Of course, Sehwag has two triple hundreds more than Sachin, we will give you that. What Sehwag could do on a cricket field to opponents, not many could. When he retired recently, the comparisons to Viv Richards were quite commonplace, and rightly so.
But it seems churlish to want Sachin to have done better. In doing so, you have made all of us think back to the days when our parents responded to us scoring a 95 in mathematics with ‘Hmmm, OK but where did the rest five marks go,beta/beti?’ Not many of us enjoyed hearing that. Even the regular defence to such statements that they were just trying to motivate us to do better in life doesn’t hold water in this case. After all Sachin has already retired and I am pretty sure you were not trying to egg him on to do well in the All Stars T20 matches next month.
Also, Kapil Paaji, you are one of the most revered cricketers this country has ever produced. In a country that was known for its stylish batsmen in CK Nayudu, Dileep Sardesai, Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Vishwanath and great spinners like Bishen Bedi, BS Chandrasekhar, S Venkatraghavan and Erapalli Prasanna, you were the first bonafide quick bowler who caught the country’s imagination.
People adored you, for you were India’s only answer to the fast bowlers of the Caribbean and the Sultans of Swing from Pakistan.
You gave the country her greatest sporting moment of the century on that beautiful day in Lord’s in 1983. You broke down on live television after MS Dhoni’s team reclaimed the World Cup 28 years since.
Given all that, I’m struggling to think how it would make you feel had someone said you should have aspired to be more devastating like Malcom Marshall or more crafty like Wasim Akram or Imran Khan. I can’t imagine your fans taking too well to comments like that.
Maybe you were saying this just with the hidden subtext of taking a jibe at the ‘Mumbai school of cricket’ because of spats you had with your contemporaries from Mumbai. Or maybe you were saying all this just to troll the media and to get their knickers in a twist, which, you have successfully managed with your ‘beamer that boomeranged,’ like a news channel put it.
But as fans of the sport, we just want to tell you we love our cricketing legends just the way they are. We don’t wish our Kapil Dev was more like Andy Roberts. We love Sehwag and Sachin for the way they thrilled us on a cricket pitch and carried the hopes of a cricket-crazy nation. We wouldn’t want to swap them for improved, near-perfect hybrids of Sir Viv Richards and Sir Donald Bradman.
A fan of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Kapil Dev
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