[BITList] Gavaskar or Sachin Tendulkar - Neither. It is Don Bradman
wulguru.wantok at gmail.com
Sun Mar 7 06:18:44 GMT 2010
Its is well to remember that the Nawab of Pataubi had only one eye.
Gavaskar's legacy endures
Partab Ramchand, Friday, March 05, 2010
We human beings are creatures not of logic but of emotion. And when it comes to matters concerning Indian cricket we display this trait in no uncertain terms. Going over the top in our reactions is second nature to us. When the team notches up a victory we raise them to the skies and beyond. When they suffer a loss they are brought down to earth with a sickening thud and all sorts of abuses are hurled on them even while baseless and even outrageous charges are made.
And with the following he enjoys Sachin Tendulkar has frequently discovered that this fan base could be a double edged sword. To me the banner or slogan 'Cricket is religion, Sachin is god' symbolizes everything that is wrong and imbalanced in our reactions whether it is praise or criticism.
The debate whether Tendulkar is the greatest batsman of all time has been going on for some time now and it has intensified following the double hundred he made in the ODI against South Africa at Gwalior - a notable first no doubt. As far as I am concerned there shouldn't be any debate, for in my view he is not the greatest of all time despite his stupendous achievements.
That accolade has to be reserved for Sir Donald Bradman, whose Test career average of 99.94 - arguably the most famous figure in cricket - has to dwarf all else that every champion batsman has produced over the last century and beyond. In this connection, I well remember Sunil Gavaskar rejecting suggestions that he had set a record with his 30th Test hundred in December 1983. He made it clear that only someone who makes 30 hundreds in 52 Tests - a reference to Bradman - could be classed as a record breaker.
Public memory is short and the young I find are more swayed by recent events rather than older people who have seen the game and players over a much longer period. A disturbing trend I have noticed is that today's generation of cricket lovers seem content to know about contemporary players.
Their knowledge of the past greats is very limited. This is borne out through my inter action with several hardcore cricket enthusiasts as also by a number of polls conducted by various publications. The questions pertaining to the greatest Indian team, greatest batsmen, greatest bowlers, greatest all-rounders and so on invariably have only cricketers stretching back at most to the seventies.
Today's generation of cricket lovers have been brought up on television and videos and because there is so little footage of cricket played from the thirties to the sixties, the younger followers of the game are quite ignorant of the feats performed by CK Nayudu and Lala Amarnath, Mohammed Nissar and Amar Singh, Vijay Merchant and Mushtaq Ali, Vinoo Mankad and Subash Gupte, Vijay Hazare and Vijay Manjrekar, Polly Umrigar and the Nawab of Pataudi.
Reading unfortunately is a vanishing habit. In my youth, in the fifties and sixties, we were brought up on books from where we got to know about the exploits of great cricketers of previous eras. I remember reading avidly about Trumper and Hobbs, Hammond and Hutton, O'Reilly and Grimmett, Nayudu and Merchant and going through books written by Neville Cardus, Ray Robinson, RC Robertson Glasgow, AA Thomson and Berry Sarbhadhikari. With reading a lost art, there is this tendency by today's generation of cricket lovers to belittle or dismiss the facts, figures and statistics associated with cricketers of a bygone period.
Just the other day, I was going through a website opinion poll asking readers to list the greatest Indian spin bowler of all time, even as some ten names (options) were listed. Anil Kumble alone got about two thirds of the vote, Harbhajan was way behind in second place while the members of the famous spin quartet all got single digit votes. Subash Gupte arguably the greatest of Indian spin bowlers (a view shared by Gary Sobers and Erapalli Prasanna among others) was second last in the voting.
Fortunately, we do have highly knowledgeable experts who are creatures not of emotion but of logic. They view things with their minds and not with their hearts and have a more balanced perspective of things in general.
Just the other day, it was good to read Graham Thorpe's column in the wake of Tendulkar's historic double hundred. The former England batsman states: ''I have always said that Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara are the two best batsmen of the modern game, and certainly the greatest I have played against. For me, Lara was the best Test batsman of the modern era, while Tendulkar is comfortably the greatest one-day player. He further cemented that status with his double hundred.''
An even more balanced judgment was presented by Gary Sobers a couple of days ago. He unwittingly entered the debate of greatest batsman by saying that the greatest of his time was Sunil Gavaskar, rating the former Indian opener ahead of Tendulkar, Lara and Vivian Richards, while spelling out the reasons for his views. I was happy to go through the comments of Sobers the greatest all rounder of all time – I hope there is no debate on this! – for I have always held the same view vis-a-vis Gavaskar and Tendulkar.
In fact, I know many, who despite the greatness of Tendulkar, still swear by Gavaskar as India's No 1 batsman of all time technically and temperamentally. After all, the pioneer, the man who showed the way, always has a special aura.
There is little doubt that Gavaskar's legacy endures and Tendulkar would be the first to admit the inspirational role that Gavaskar has played and the exalted status SMG enjoys in the history of Indian cricket.
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