Is it Time For Sachin To Go?

January 23, 2007

A long bad run

Sachin's performance in the final test match against South Africa was embarassing. He was doing no justice to his stature as the world's premier batsman or a senior member of the Indian team. This isn't a recent phenomenon though. The little man has been in poor form in both forms of the game for around two years now. He has made just over 1000 runs at an average of 38 in the last 2 years in the one day game and around 800 runs at an average of around 34 in the test game. These numbers stack up poorly against his career statistics and have now put him as far outside the top 10 bracket of International batsmen as he has ever been in the last ten years.

Is it time?

So, is it time for Sachin to leave while still being regarded as a force to reckon with? While he is the best judge of that, I am fairly sure every man and his dog have an opinion on this one. That he still loves the game is obvious from the enthusiasm he displays on the field but seventeen years at the top have taken their toll. There isn't an unbroken bone or untorn muscle and the body takes longer to respond to what the mind asks of it. Add to this the media and general public speculation on his form, stance, inability to play left-arm spinners and what not. Throw in the burden of expectations that he has worn so lightly for over a decade and we can still hardly fathom what this man goes through. Sachin has rendered yeoman service to Indian cricket and that is irrefutable.

But even a player of Sachin's stature must deliver the goods regularly and prove himself to be in the team. Atleast that is the expectation, given that the team and the game are bigger than any individual. Sachin has failed to deliver over an extended period now. The fact that he was the second highest run-getter against the Proteans speaks badly of the rest of our batting and is no excuse.

Do I suggest that Sachin be dropped? Sycophants will want to hunt me down for this sacrilegious thought but anyone who has been following his career is now wondering how much longer Sachin will agonize us with his form. He will show us glimpses of genius with stunning drives and powerful cuts and then edge a ball to the slips when on 30. Another bad series and the blood-bayers would probably be right in their demands for a Sachin exclusion.

The End: A forced retirement?

The selectors though, will not drop Sachin, not unless they want to earn the wrath of the entire country and looks like he isn't going to take the break I suggested. So, the only way for the career to end is a retirement but not just yet. His continued inclusion in the team should be contingent on the performance in the next series. If he fails, I don't think there is anything blasphemous about dropping the great man from the team the euphemistic way of doing which would be to demand his retirement following a farewell series (which might or might not be the World Cup). But why one more series? Well, most players performed considerably worse in the South African series and I don't see any replacements really. Also, while he looks like he is over the hill, he might turn in performances in this series and the World Cup that make me look like a fool.

A wish ...

These are the last legs of the greatest Indian career ever seen. Miles and miles of newsprint will be devoted to the years at the top and the spanking shots when he is gone. But most cricket lovers around the world would like to see this symphony rise to a crescendo and go out at the top. I hope it starts to build-up now or it might remain forever unfinished.

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January 23, 2007
08:29 AM

Leave aside Sachin..It is people like who take his name to get life to your blog or newspapers..An article on if Sachin should retire or not gets the debate on your page, doesn't it?

January 23, 2007
07:26 PM

How come you are asking to drop a player with average 38 in the last 2 years? He is going through a bad time coz of injuries. There is no doubt that he will recover his stat once he is settled to a good physique.

January 24, 2007
12:35 AM

he is not a great batsman...he is average...i would call someone great if hes good in tet cricket...he is not a match winner like brian lara...so brian lara is the greatest..and sachin is average...he shld be dropped long time ago

Die Hard
January 24, 2007
01:53 AM

Luke,you are so funny. In fact hilarious!

rishabh romit
January 25, 2007
05:14 PM

luke i think you have not got your facts and figures correct....
as far as the master blaster goes.... ppl in India should realize that he of all ppl realizes what is required n what not... he bears more burden n hopes n responsibility than maybe our President or PM(not literally but just to say)... he has made our country n the sport of cricket proud.... he took the game to a new level... he has re written history.... n will break many more records... keeping these pleasant memories aside... of late our Hero has been not well n has had couple of bad knocks... so WHATS THE BIG DEAL...???... why are ppl making a big fuss...
thats a prblm with us... n our media... its disgusting.... who in this world doesnot encounter some ups and downws.... does every student score a hundred when he writes an exam.. or is a mother able to cook her best tasting meal everytime or has any politician kept up all his "promises" or has any comany shown highest of profits every financial year... we all make mistakes we all fall down n then get up to fight...
its so difficult to be in sachin bhai's shoes... so damn difficult... nobody in this billion will ever realize that... thats the saddest part;
when you hit a 100 all will treat you like God n by chance if the next day if you get out for 0, they burn your effigies... they badmouth you.. they stone your car n houses.... its flashed discussed n stripped naked in our "world's best" Media...
for once just restrict yourselves from passing stupid meaningless comments to the man that really matters... to the man that works n sweats to make you proud to make you smile to make you happy.... just for you... he is one of us.... he is our son our brother.... if he makes a mistake we should encourage him... help him... pray for him... not hurt him.. not criticise him everytime... just like when our son falters we dont throw him out of the house... dont ever think of "ending" the time of our most beloved son... he is a humble gentlte son of India...

January 25, 2007
10:47 PM

If you look at the goings on on the field you will notice that Sachin is doing much more than being just a batsman, fielder and occassional bowler. He encourages the young, new bowlers, especially when they've just been whacked for a four or a six, he' there encouraging the batsman on the other crease when he's just hit a four or faced a doozie of a ball. He's in there huddling with the team when things are not going according to plan. For the other team members it's like having their mentor on the field, more than half a coach. His kind and brand of experience does not come from just being around hanging on to the team. It comes from having excelled as a world-class cricketeer for 17 years. I'm sure he's as valuable to the team off the field, in the coaching, strategy and traning sessions.

That kind of value to the team cannot be done away or replaced in a hurry.

January 27, 2007
12:57 PM

So, now after today's match, since he scored 60 and still India lost, he is not a match winner..

But, one question sirr..drop Sachin..give me one fellow who you can replace him with, and I shall stop my arguments..One name..don't simply say 'youngsters'..

January 28, 2007
09:39 PM

@ Anand: Yes, such a debate does generate hits and debates. And boss, there are players like Badrinath, Rayudu etc. who have been waiting in the wings. Will they be able to fill the boots of Sachin? Probably not. But then did they think Sachin was this good when he came through at 17?

@Luke: 9 times out of 10, I would pick Sachin over Lara to bat for my life.

@Rishab: Good to see fans who are willing to fight for their heroes. While it is true that the media kicks up a fuss about almost everything. But you are missing the point. The stats are over 2 years not a small period of ups and downs. My concern is more that Sachin's image as a feared batsman will be severely dented if this continues. And considering the fact that he doesn't look like he will ever recapture the form of old, I am wondering if it is time to leave when you start realizing that you are not able to give the best you are capable of.

@Sujatha: Sachin's contribution to the team in every role you suggested is well recognized and appreciated. But shouldn't we still remember that he is primarily in the team as a batsman? I mean, if all the other roles of motivating and stuff is what he is here for, we might as well continue to play Kapil Dev in the team! While I stretch the point too far, the point I am rying to make is that Sachin is not performing what he is capable of in his primary function. Are the rest big enough for us to consider him on that basis alone? hmmm...

Die Hard
January 29, 2007
02:34 AM

Sachin like Sanath Jayasuriya is a genuine match winner and an all rounder. Sachin, like Sanath is flamboyunt, entertaining and very exiting to watch. Sachin unlike Sanath is technically very sound. Sachin is still quite young.

People who want him to retire because he has not performed in a few of matches should learn from Sanath Jayasuriya retirement saga.

Basically, what I am trying to say is he is the best cricketer ever and it is only a matter of time until he bounce back.

February 1, 2007
08:58 AM

I am joining this debate rather late in the day and at a time when most of the critics would be eating humble pie after a sizzling, albiet trifle fortuitous, century from the Little Champion.

Sportsnob, while disagreeing with most of what you said, I must admit that their post was very measured, a rarity in this day of media hyperbole.

Even as I have been pained and disappointed with sachin's laboured batting of late, particularly in test matches( I can safely venture to say that most batsmen would be delighted to have an average of 38 in ODIs), I do think that the debate on his batting has gone completely awry.

Nobody can deny that Sachin is not the batsman that he was in his prime. But I do feel that he has several years left in him to contribute to the team. The problem lies in his recent batting technique rather than in any slowing down of reflexes. His quest for staying inside the crease and looking for easy runs on the on side has been the cause of his downfall. Whenever he has looked to come on the front foot, he has looked authoritative (first innings in all the three tests). Sachin's batting (till 2002-03) was always centred around coming forward to length deliveries. Not surprisingly, his inconsistency and vulnerability to the incoming delivery increased along with his tendency to work the ball on on side from crease since then.

As great a batsman that he is, he needs to be told that a batsman has to be decisive in footwork, whether in attack or in defence. There is a difference between defending a delivery and tentativeness that he must appreciate for his own good.

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