I disagree with Sachin Tendulkar

I disagree with Sachin TendulkarHimanshu Shekhar

When Tendulkar comes up with a suggestion, the cricketing world has no other option but to listen. His sheer contribution to the game has no parallels, and therefore, history will not find any name worthier than his. So, when Tendulkar first suggested bringing in school children for Test venues, we could not stop supporting his sentiments and praising his vision.

But today, I would beg to differ with the Little Master on his suggestions of converting the fifty over one day internationals into a twenty-five over two innings game. Let us first look into what Sachin had said, “We should have 25 overs a side to start with and then again, 25 overs for one side and then the other. Today, we can tell the result of close to 75 per cent of matches after the toss. We know how the conditions will affect the two teams. If it’s a day-night match then both the teams will have to bat under lights. The conditions change dramatically, but this would ensure that it’s same for everyone.”

Indeed, valuable inputs from the Little Master must be taken seriously. But, to simply tamper with the format of the game which has lasted for close to four decades and has made cricket a multi-crore industry and helped it reach the place where it is today, would be a sin. And anybody who plans to tinker with the format just for monetary gains can be accused of culpable homicide.

One-day cricket has a lot more to offer than what it being touted as- boring and time consuming. It has produced cricketing icons who have transformed the course of the very game, and the great Sachin Tendulkar has been a testimony to that fact.My memory goes back to that windy April night in Sharjah in the year 1998, when Team India were on the verge of elimination, playing against World Champions Australia, in a must win match. By the time the Australian innings folded, Indian bowlers ran short of time and the penalty, according to cricketing rules, was faced by their batsmen. The revised target was 276 to win in 46 overs. To qualify for the later stage, India needed at least 237 in the same time.

What unfolded next is stuff folklores are made of, as the Little Genius defied odds and a heavy sandstorm to help India make it to the finals. An innings of 143 runs in just 131 balls with 9 fours and five sixes is what I remember till date, despite knowing pretty well that I had my mathematics examination the very next day, with me surely in doldrums there!

It is over a decade now, and the spectacle of one day cricket has seen many changes and innovations, and in the process, leaving some lasting memories and producing some stimulating cricket and separated grains from the chaffs.

The format alone has left an ever lasting impression. Who in India can forget the images of Indians invading Lord’s Cricket Ground with Tirangain hands, and Kapil Dev lifting the trophy with Jimmy (Mohinder Amarnath) to his left, and Sunny (Sunil Gavaskar) to his right.

Sanath Jayasuriya & Romesh Kaluwitharna, under Arjuna Ranatunga, stealing the world crown from right under Mark Taylor’s nose, Bangladesh outclassing the World Champions with sheer merit and Wasim Akram’s devastating spell in Melbourne with 8 overs, 21 runs, 1 maiden and 5 wickets scalping Allan Border, Kepler Wessels, Dean Jones and Hughes.

There are endless memories, the 1992 WC final, the 400-plus run chase by South Africa, Tendulkar’s spectacular over in the Hero Cup Finals at Eden Gardens… the list is unending.I have just sighted few instances, as every cricket playing nation would have memories and defining moments of its own.

Cricket expert and well known journalist Peter Roebuck writes in his column, “Fifty-over cricket has been more sinned against than sinning. Sometimes the cricket community forgets that it exists not for itself but its public. Reporters occasionally forget that though they might cover 35 ODIs a year, most spectators get one chance. The weariness exists mostly in our minds.”

So, when Tendulkar suggests making it a two innings format, then undoubtedly it robs the bowlers of their chances, and makes the game more batsmen friendly which anyways, the T20 does.

It is true that cricket boards of all nations have squeezed-in too many ODIs and irrelevant matches. The reason- it rakes in huge amount of money, at the same time eroding the game’s charm. T20 matches are more about destiny, as skill, mettle and stamina of a person often takes the back seat in front of style and flamboyance. One or two lusty blows change the complexion of the game, and you don’t need to be a genius like Tendulkar to come up with an ever lasting memory either!How many T20 moments anyone remembers is something that can be anybody’s guess. When Tendulkar asks for a level playing field for both the formats where conditions don’t interfere, then he misses one point… In Tests too, a lot depends on who plays on the first morning and there lies the uncertainty which undoubtedly is an asset for the game. Cricket without uncertainty ….Oh! I just can’t think of it.

It is true that the game has seen a few dull moments, largely due to a captain’s negative tactics and some highly uneven contests, but that should not be a reason for any cricket administrator to rob common fans, who still watch the game from those cheap seats, off their memories.

Any moves to spruce it up, inducing more life into it are welcome, but the soul should be kept intact. As one of Zeecric.com’s reader wrote, “Test cricket is like staple food, ODIs the mild meal and T20 the desserts and one can’t have desserts always.”

On a more serious note, if the ODIs are done away with, can anyone think of producing another Lara, Akram… or for that matter, any future- ‘Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar’?