Too much limelight on Sachin has benefits too, like how now its shielding poor performance of other players in the team from most eyes.
Not surprisingly, last three days saw flood of articles on Sachin Tendulkar in both paper and digital media, which never misses an opportunity to either hype or criticize his performance over other players and the team. Getting out bowled, that too middle stump off the ground, three times on a row and poor numbers in the entire series against not so good test team like New Zealand surely invites lots of scrutiny and also adds fuel to this growing poor habit of determining once retirement based on age alone. But the way all going bonkers like Sachin alone underperformed and deserved to be axed is just not good and constructive criticism.
Sure, Sachin performance was way below his own standards but when others in team fared even poorer then him, how come he only deserves the axe? Table below clearly shows Sachin despite under performing fared better than Sehwag, Gambhir and retired Laxman. And we don’t even need to talk about Suresh Raina (four ducks in 11 innings) actually.
Indian players batting performance from England series last year to recently concluded New Zealand series:
(*stats from www.cricinfo.com)
If we remove runs from home test series against NZ and WI, then in terms of average, everyone except Kohli (37.50) and Dravid (46.78) falls below Sachin (35.00), and in terms of runs, Sachin (560) is second only to Dravid (665). With Rahul Dravid being India‘s best test batsmen in last year retired, Sachin is surely the second best if not best in the current test line-up. Even in terms of fitness, Sachin at 39 is still going strong. I would say, he is better than Sehwag and on par with Gambhir. So, if you are talking about dropping someone from the test team, then better first consider Sehwag, Gambhir and Raina before Sachin.
I am not so sure why so much fuss about Sachin getting bowled. If you take his track record, he is always been troubled by the incoming deliveries which resulted in either LBW or bowled often if dismissed. Moreover, I believe Sachin reason for tentativeness against NZ was due to lack of match practice. He didn’t played a match in-between IPL and NZ test series, i.e. nearly three months. Doesn’t matter how much experienced you are and hours spent on nets, batting on the match is very different. It is evident that in second innings of second test after spending some quality time in crease, Sachin looked in better rhythm. He was making long forward strides, punching the ball off the back foot and leaning well to cover drive the ball. So, what we need to make sure before England test series is Sachin having good match practice and someone like Sunil Gavaskar walking up to tell him, “Champ, its that time you must look to play more straight and not across to midwicket.”
Although he will play in Champions League T20 for Mumbai Indians, we need him to play in one or two Ranji matches prior to the series start and problem solved. About retirement, it is his personal decision. As i said here, selectors can drop him if he don’t perform or not physically fit or not needed by team anymore. Sachin for his quality will surely make runs against any team and at any conditions.
Indian test team got far bigger problem to worry then Sachin at present. Bowling despite getting 40 wickets in the series against New Zealand wasn’t really impressive, rather raised more concerns. If at all want to debate and raise a valid concern, then first do it on bowling (both spin and seam), Gambhir and Sehwag. As a team, India moved away from living in shadows of Sachin long ago. So, you too better start moving.