Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kapil Dev on Sachin

The Greatest......could have been greater

I have no doubts whatsoever about his performances. His record over 20 years is impeccable. I feel that since I know his ability as a cricketer I can say that for all his wonderful talent and his fantastic ability, Sachin Tendulkar is an under-achiever.
When I bowled to him 20 years ago I knew at once here was a cricketer of extraordinary ability, and he was only 16 years old then. In modern day cricket, according to me, no one can be compared to Tendulkar – not Viv Richards, not Ricky Ponting, not Brian Lara. I can only say that, sadly, Sachin has given an opportunity for people to compare others to him.
There has been no greater breaker of records, no bigger ambassador for India and for the game. For over 20 years he has been a champion, He has kept his mouth shut and shown what his bat is capable of. The cherry on the cake is that there have been no controversies surrounding him. His behaviour is impeccable. I know he broke every imaginable record. I am aware people will criticise me for saying this on such a happy occasion. He made records, but he is not a ruthless cricketer. In fact, he started as a destroyer but somewhere along the way he became a record breaker.
To my mind there are only a few ODI innings in which he played to his full potential. I remember a 138 against Sri Lanka (at Colombo, Compaq Cup final, September 2009) and the175 he made in Hyderabad last fortnight. There are a few other innings that come to mind, but I can confidently assert that, for a major part of his career, Tendulkar has played well below his potential.
Sunil Gavaskar had the ability and the patience to work a bowler till he was tired and then kill him. Sachin had the talent to kill a bowler in his first over. To my mind, Sachin played like Gavaskar. Taking in the totality of his cricket, Sachin had greater talent than what he performed.
Records he would have made anyway. His approach has been ideal to the passing of landmarks, to the setting of new peaks. I must confess that I felt bad about his 194 on the day he was left stranded when the captain (Dravid) declared the Indian innings. But I was not sad that he did not make his double hundred. You will know what I mean if you replay the innings on video.
What the cricketer in me says is that I would be happy had he made 500 to 1,000 runs less in his career provided he had been ruthless in his approach. When I say all this I mean it as a compliment to his talent and a criticism of his under achievement. I firmly believe that for a batsman of Sachin's talent, he should have made 10 Test double hundreds, a 300 and at least one 400.
In the same breath, I would say that I would ideally have liked to see him go from 30 to 50 in three overs and to go from 50 to 80 on any pitch, against any bowling in 5 overs. He may use up another 5 overs to get to 95 and then safely get his century. Here is a man who can hit sixes at ease than anyone else in world cricket but after 50, he usually takes 5 overs to get to 55.
I have not seen Don Bradman bat. But I have seen Viv Richards and Sunil Gavaskar. Sachin is more talented than the two of them. He is a batsman capable of batting on 300 after a day's play in a Test. Today's climate and real feel are such you have to score that quickly to make big scores and kill the opposing bowling. I know Sachin could have done it. In my judgment, has had under performed to his ability in the last 12 years.
I know it's easy to say he should win a World Cup for India off his own bat. But this is not in his control, Winning a World Cup is about teamwork. What I want to see from Sachin in the rest of his career is to bat as he did in Hyderabad where he accelerated every time he lost a batting partner. That's his real ability.
I enjoyed it immensely when Sachin said this was the very best innings in his life. This is what he is capable of. The 140-ball hundreds are for Rahul Dravid and the like. I wish that to do justice to his ability he would sit with the likes of Richards, people with a ruthless approach – not with Geoffrey Boycott, who incidentally also broke all kinds of records.
I remember Sharjah (ODIs in 1998), Sydney double hundred (in 2004), Perth hundred (1992). Sorry to say, I cannot say the same of his last 15 international hundreds. I was very hurt when Ponting said recently that Sachin makes runs. I think the Australian captain dismissed him as an accumulator of runs, a maker of records.
The world bowlers are scared of a batsman like Virender Sehwag today. But they should always have been scared of Sachin. I know for a fact that he can hit the very same ball from the very same spot either to the leg side or the off side for four and he can do so either off the front foot or the back foot. Knowing very clearly that he has more ability and talent than anyone else, he should have destroyed bowlers.
Name 10 top international sportsmen who started shining when very young and you will see they would have suffered burnout by the time they were 30 – for example, Boris Becker, Nadia Comaneci. I admire Sachin's discipline and the passion he has for his sport even now at 36. Hats off to him. I know a lot of sportsmen work very hard on their game. Take Dravid as the prime example. But Sachin did not have to work hard. The only other cricketer I could think of with so much talent was L. Sivaramakrishnan. And look how he wasted it. Sachin did not have to work that hard on his game. What I would like to see in the remainder of his career is that he should dominate the bowling and make runs as he did in the Hyderabad ODI. I would like to see him finish his career as a destroyer of bowlers, as a ruthless cricketer who helped his team dominate the sport.

No comments: