Vantage point

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sachin's Gambit

After 17 years of largely innocuous statements (except for the infamous declared-on-194 complaint), Sachin Tendulkar has spoken up. And in doing so, he has finally decided to make a withdrawl from his goodwill bank.

The Indian fans, led by the news channels, have been letting the team have it for their shock exit. And Tendulkar, who had a pathetic World Cup, has been at the centre of this attack. Everywhere you go, there is the "Sachin should retire" buzz around.

Sick and tired of all the bad press, Tendulkar has decided to speak out in the hope that a plaintive salvo such as this will win him the support back. And if he can deflect it all towards the failed Australian coach, why, nothing easier.

No one really has the moral high ground here. Everybody is wrong. I am not talking just about the 3 World Cup matches or even about just ODIs. I am talking about the test performance too.

Chappell is to blame, because there really has been no plan or strategy evident, apart from axing-reincluding-axing-reincluding players and shuffling the batting order like a pack of cards. A team's strategy is evident when it is fielding, and there has been nothing innovative on display there. Of course, he is not to blame alone, but he has made his own bed by being so high profile, making so many controversial statements, and so many radical changes which have failed. The proof of the pudding is in its eating. And the simple fact is he has failed.

The team is not without blame either. Their fielding has been pathetic, and you don't really need a million-dollar-coach to tell you that you need to field well. Their performances have been patchy, and uninspired. No newcomer except for Dhoni has really been able to really shine long enough. Raina, Munaf, Uthappa, Sreesanth have all been flashes in really constricted pans. And the seniors like Dravid, Laxman, Yuvraj, Kumble, Harbhajan, Sehwag etc have rarely shown the stomach for a fight when the chips are down. Ganguly will be thanking Chappell for forcing him out. He is the only blameless member of the team, probably because he has been back for just a few months.

As for Tendulkar himself, well, he has to realize that being a God has its down sides too. You are held up to a higher standard. You are expected to perform miracles and dazzle the world. The plunge in his stock has to do with more than the team's failure. If team success was the criterion, he would never have been hailed as the great one in the first place. And Lara would not be called the best batsman either. It is about magic. And the magic has gone from his game. He does not make batting look easy and divine any more. The team's loss has only magnified the issue.

So he has come out and spoken publicly. Will it work? I think it will. Sympathy will swing his way. Chappell will be vilified as a divisive force. He will be the bad guy. Dravid, I am sure, is sick of captaincy. Ganguly would be too dumb to take it back.

By speaking up, Tendulkar has sent a clear signal that he would not mind the captaincy back. And thus will start his third inning at the helm.

Labels: , , , , ,