So finally Sachin retires from ODI. Its a remarkable moment for great many of his fans – and a moment to chill for many of his critics. After all, the much awaited retierement is here.
There is no disagreement, whether you are his fan or the critic, that he happens to be a legend across the history of the game. For the mountains of unparalleled records he has made, wikipedia has kept a dedicated page of Sachin’s records apart from his own page. But all these records are still in vain in the light of one criticism against Sachin, that he doesn’t plays for the country rather only for the records and if he is truly not a match winner. Is this really true or just an allegation?
This debate of non-match-winner and defense existed for quite some time; but this debate was heightened ever since media was tracking Sachin’s 100th 100. This landmark became quite a jinx to him. He finally finished his 100th century after facing so many nervous 90′s; and that too against Bangladesh. Not only that, we lost the match in which Sachin broke the record! So putting all together – it was inevitable for people to believe that “Sachin only plays to make records not for a country!” This record put him to a new apex in the game, no matter who you are, this could be the worse insult one can get after putting such a flawless and heightened career anyone can get.
So is this really true that master blaster is actually selfish only worrying about his records and for the interest of the game and country?
Wait, I didn’t tell you – this blog is not about Sachin, and not even about cricket. This question isn’t quite a new one. While there are hardly few people like Sachin’s legendry status, but I have seen many people – in sports, administration, politics and in work receive an uncalled for criticism or don’t get to the credit to their merit. This blog is neither from Sachin’s best fan nor from a critic. This blog rather tries to throw some light as to why our thinking, over time, has grown to undermine the true value as a legend. The phenomenon is definitely not rare but quite a commonplace rather. I am just listing here, in my view, why this happens – and what is the root of it all!
This problem actually belongs to much larger pattern; but since we started with Sachin, let’s first look at that. Sachin has perhaps every possible record as I could imagine. But we are not really compiling Sachin’s records- so many people have done this. See , ,  and many more. Sachin of course is highest run maker and highest century maker (by any statistics) with a nice average and strike-rate; so when you pile up a lot of run for the side, and do that everytime that itself stand that his contributions have always helped India.
The question really is, “Is he a match winner for India?” To make a small point – most Indian cricketers are only good in Indian soil. Few batsman have shown the charm of defeating foreigners in their land – while that being true, Sachin is actually the highest in the tally to have performed extremely well on the foriegn soil. He has played against all countries on all grounds equally handsomely not just on weaker sides. His highest centuries was against Australia. What is even more important, if you follow the detailed stats, his batting avg when India won (56.63) is much higher than when India lost(33.25) – so if you believe this analysis you can actually say that whenever he didn’t play India lost! And I remember the same critics of Indian team once cribbed that we are just about Tendulkar and not team India! Another important and rather most decisive record he holds is that he has bagged the most “Most Man of the match“ (62) and “Most Man of the series” (15) awards. By that token not only he is the match winner for India, he is probably the best match winner that any cricket playing side has ever got! Many people have iterated upon these points. In fact you go to this site they actually try to give a point by point of defence for sachin’s critic. So why does than people get the feeling that he doesn’t play that matters to the countries’ win?
The answer is rather deep. And this pattern of perception mismatch is rather widespread. First off, cricket is a most funny game. It boils down to the fact, that most matches which becomes significant (and what we remember in our long terms memory) have nail biting finish rather than a onesided quality play. Things will keep swinging till the last moment and last ball. You could play all well till 99 overs of the game and loose the match in last 5 balls. And if we go back and recall how many matches we remember ball-by-ball, you will see that they all will be where there were last moment wickets or sixes that makes the match rather decisive. To be fair, it takes a huge courage to be just on the pitch for those last decisive 6 six balls. But however interesting, dramatising, heavy TRP and memorable we find these matches, by all means, many wins of this kind are actually more of fate or accidents preceding the talent. And if you try to recall, you may find it is here where Sachin scores the least; How many matches you remember which went till last ball while Sachin is both the man-of-the-match and the hitter of the winning ball. Whenever, sachin has been the match winner, he has probably also made it a handsom touch and we win, chances are that the match didn’t quite reach that memorable state. Matches where Sachin’s contribution has caused a match win would probably have lesser occassions of this nail biting finishes.
Sachin, is not the only person who gets undermined credit for the work. If I remember someone like Chetan Sharma – I only remember it for the “last ball boundary by Miandad, due to which we lost the match and the sharjah cup”. I was too young otherwise to remember Chetan Sharma’s contribution to Indian cricket. I also remember (know) Kapil’s landslide 175 which remained the world record for so many years; not only because it was a highest score, but India lost some 4-5 wickets and then Kapil’s innings was a great turn around. And ofcoure many do remember 6 sixes of Yuvraj and 45 of 22 from Ajay Jadeja. I am not making an exhaustive list here; but only making a point that of the hundreds of the 100 centuries that Sachin has made – how many we remember because they were last moment turn around? It is not empty but probably much fewer. There is an interesting impact analysis (and a commentary here) , which claims that of the 5 best (from ODI and tests) are some such turn around moments – but these most impacting innings doesn’t include his innings where he made his highest 200 knock. One can make endless analysis in favor or against Sachin, but the point I am trying to make that our perceptions are more influenced by dramatized situations rather than where India would have rather safely win, and safely win because of Sachin. In fact, Sachin being the opener and a quality player, whenever India got Sachin’s influenced victory (perhaps so many of them) would still have made India on an easier to home rather than to put India to nail biting finish with Sachin hitting a sixer on the last ball to make the victory. Contrary to that, people like Yuvraj, Dhoni, Pathan brothers, Kohli would be quite a bit more on such spots to be remembered in such a position. It’s not just the last ball victory but the turn around impacts just happens to be a relatively lesser than the other. If that is all the reason why we don’t quite count Sachin as a “match winner” that’s quite unfair.
We won’t forget how we got very late due to heavy traffic and lost out in a job interview or exam. But we don’t quite remember how often the road was such a nice drive without any congestion, and we always remain biased if not completely blind. Our disability not to recognize daily consistent work, but only remembering a few heroic activities – I called here with is firecracker-blindness, ones blindness not to recognize efforts beyond firecrackers.
Good many people, in sports, politics, administration and in organizations, keep up the good work. When people are disciplined, well managed it is more likely that things are well taken care of, and there won’t be need for a hightened drama. If all is done well, you don’t quite need heroic contributions from people or need turn around innings great many times. As a matter of fact Peter Drucker says, “A well-managed factory is boring.” (Effective Executive). But all these good and regular moments gets out of our memories very fast. When trouble strikes, some special talent also shines out. And it is great that people fight on critical moments, but over my career I have seen that many people realize that the trick is only to perform in the emergency. Keep quite and then grab the opportunity of visibility only when everyone know there is trouble. Event after event, management would have your contributions very very visible and memorable! And all those who keep digging everyday, who are the real heroes to pile up the greatest amount of work, gets no applause. Even worse is that, when the time comes to identify who are the match winners – we only name those who have been out-shined with glory on those glamorous moments of tragedy. Sounds all the familiar? Which is why I said the case with Sachin, is actually all too common place. And mind you, if I really want to use single statement to defend Sachin, “the person who has relentlessly made 100 tons and more than 18k runs for the Indian side” if you think has no contribution to winning matches for India, you have just got firecracker-blindness. Nothing can be answered to you! But unfortunately, if you are sitting in the selector’s team, or one of those management teams who decides growth of people, over looking people’s consistent performance over few herioc moments, you are ready to make life doom for yourself and for great many others, only not to realize the cause of it.
Sachin, of course, do have good many fans. But there are many, who put more of consistent work of mountain and would still not find any fans.
Life is unfair! But we don’t have to be.