Is it time for Sachin to go?
Posted by Sports Snob on January 20, 2007
This line in an article here passed off rather silently without raising too many eyebrows and with good reason. After the batting performance in the third test in South Africa, I started writing a post on why Sachin should take a break from the game and come back with renewed energy.
But the selectors had different ideas. Vengsarkar and co have made him vice-captain and if the team fails in the upcoming series, Dravid could very well be on his way out. But is making Sachin captain the right move in that case?
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.
What are your views on this issue? Leave a comment. (If you think that I might be missing some parts of my anatomy or should stick things up some place, please keep those opinions to yourself, Thank You. )
Related Post: Sachin’s greatest one day knocks
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