It is no secret that Sachin Tendulkar is going through the worst form of his career. Yet there are those who'd love to defend him with arguments that are often asinine. Here's a collection of some of those:
(1) You can’t drop Tendulkar because he has no successor.
COUNTER-ARGUMENT: It’s been over 25 years since Sunil Gavaskar’s retirement and nineteen since Kapil Dev’s, and yet nobody has come close to replacing these great players, neither statistically nor spiritually. Australia didn’t have replacements for Don Bradman, Greg Chappell or Ricky Ponting. Pakistan have never had another Imran Khan, or New Zealand a Richard Hadlee, and England an Ian Botham. What they had were players who could get the job done. So it will be for Tendulkar too.
(2) How many matches have Tendulkar’s critics played?
If the number of games played is the sole criterion for judging a man’s cricketing acumen, there’s nobody alive today to critique Tendulkar’s performances. So should he be his own coach, his own selector, his own manager and his own media? Certainly not. Meanwhile, the person Tendulkar turns to for advice is his brother Ajit. So how many Tests did Ajit play?
(3) He is the world’s best batsman.
He was — notice the past tense emphasis — the world’s best batsman. Now, he is not even India’s best. Hell, he is not even the best in the Mumbai Indians team. If you’re looking for the best, look at AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli, Hashim Amla, Michael Clarke, Alastair Cook and Kumar Sangakkara. Tendulkar’s form has deserted him. His reflexes are visibly slower, his eyesight perhaps a little less sharp, and his body has suffered much punishment over three decades. There’s no shame in having those problems at age 40, but there is in building him up for his past achievements.
(4) Nobody can match his records, so he should play on.
Runs scored yesterday won’t win you a match today. It’s been 65 years since Don Bradman stopped playing cricket, and nobody has come close to some of his records. Does that mean he should have continued playing on? Since the 2011 World Cup, Tendulkar averages 31 for India in all formats with one hundred in 47 knocks — a massive fall from his lofty standards. These mediocre results of the last two years are threatening to diminish all that good work he had done in the past.
(5) Tendulkar can decide when to play.
Wrong. It is the selectors who decide when a cricketer plays and when he doesn’t. For long, Tendulkar has been acting as his own selector, picking and choosing when he will play and when he won’t. Players tend to have a biased view of their own utility and fitness. The best example of that is Ricky Ponting who continued playing for Australia till he had to be forced out of the team due to poor form.
(6) People want to see Tendulkar play, so he should continue playing.
Is the individual greater than the team? And is the individual’s performances more important than the team’s results?
(7) It’s just a matter of time before he makes a lot of runs and prove his critics wrong.
Of all the things Tendulkar’s die-hard fans say, this is probably the silliest. Tendulkar has proven many people wrong with the strength of his performances. After 24 years of service to Indian cricket, doesn’t he deserve to not have the burden of proving his critics wrong all over again?
(8) His presence boosts team’s morale.
At the moment, the only team’s morale he has been boosting is the opposition. Tendulkar has returned mediocre performances in every tournament he has played since the World Cup. Any opposition would love to play against an under-pressure player struggling to rectify his problems.
(9) He is the god of cricket. You have no right to criticise him.
Actually, that is incorrect. Look up Article 19 (1)(a) of the Indian constitution.
(10) We don’t have a tenth item, but feel free to take your pick from some of the comments below.
Update: Read the sequel to this column.