Athers and Kapil are only partly right
On the occasion of Sachin Tendulkar completing 20 years in international cricket
, Kapil Dev opined in 'The Asian Age'
that Tendulkar had under-achieved.
It depends on how you look at it. For someone who started off playing so aggressively and making bowlers scared of bowling to him, Tendulkar most definitely doesn't strike fear in bowlers any more. But that's true for pretty much every player who has been around for any length of time. I'm sure that towards the late 80s and early 90s, bowlers were queueing up to bowl to Viv. Murali hasn't been too good over the past year or so and there are enough questions asked about his place in the side. Kapil himself was about as quick as Mohinder Amarnath (with Jimmy at his fastest) in the last 2-3 years of his career. Lara's magic only happened in spurts towards the end. Steve Waugh fared little better.
Besides, all players change their styles to suit the team's needs, their own physical & mental state of being, etc. Until around the mid-90s, Tendulkar played in a very aggressive manner a lot of the time. But he could do that because the likes of Azhar, Sidhu and Manjrekar were around. From after the mid-90s, Tendulkar became the mainstay
, and the batting revolved around him. From around the start of this decade to around 2004/2005, Dravid took over the mantle as the 'go-to' guy. Over the last 3 years, it has been Sehwag. Even though these changes happened, Tendulkar's wicket would undoubtedly have been the #1 wicket as far as the opposition was concerned.
So he could never ever have gone back to thrashing the bowling around every game, like he used to. In just the same manner as Kapil himself transformed from being a quick (let's say 140 kph types) bowler to being a fast-medium (130-135 kph) swing bowler because he realized that he would never have a long career if he'd continued as a quick bowler. Did that mean batsmen feared him less? Perhaps yes. But given he had now added a dimension of swing to his ability, it made him even better and batsmen obviously respected his ability to "make the ball talk".
Mike Atherton, writing in 'The Times', felt that calling Tendulkar the best ever
was not right, because he had the benefit of so much body armour (helmets, better pads, chest guards, etc.)
That's fair enough. Anyone who tries to compare across generations is obviously being stupid. At most, you can compare folks with peers and players who played within a 10 year time period, with sufficient overlap in careers. Only Dennis Lilee would be able to get away with claiming that Mitchell Johnson was a oiag
player. Either Lillee's memory is poor, or Aussie define a generation as 5 years.
But the point Athers misses is that those who played in a different era did so when there were no (or very few) ODIs or T20 games, no IPL or Champions League, no talk of burnout
, test series had at least 3 warm-up games, etc.
It's interesting to think of how Hobbs, Bradman, Hammond, Sobers, Hutton, Bill O'Reilly, Harvey, Hanif, Bedi, Miller, Sutcliffe, etc. would have coped with all the travel, playing with 'niggling' injuries, spending so much time away from home, playing back-to-back tests/ODIs, playing back-to-back series in the span of a couple of months, etc.
Labels: atherton, burnout, greats, kapil, tendulkar