Sachin, don't be afraid of failure

Justify Full

SANJAY MANJREKAR



Sachin Tendulkar has played 362 ODIs and 132 Tests. It is time he started thinking like a man who has played 362 ODIs and 132 Tests. Which means he has to accept a fact of life that his mind may remain young and retain the youthful exuberance for the game but his body is ageing rapidly.

Tendulkar has played a humongous amount of cricket and, thus, will never ever have that 19-year-old body to support what still looks a very eager cricket mind.

Watching the turn of events in his career in the last five years or so I am afraid my favourite batsman is not handling this fact of life as well as he does a cricket bat.

Judging other people's injuries and their seriousness is a very dangerous exercise. Except the person affected, no one really knows how serious the affliction is. But my guess is that Tendulkar seems reluctant to play any international cricket unless he is physically and mentally 100% fit. A state he will never ever be after 16 years of international cricket.

It is here he could take a leaf from his contemporaries like Inzamam-ul-Haq and Brian Lara who today are more 'on their last legs' than Tendulkar. Unlike Tendulkar, they walk onto the field with no illusions. They compete with a very clear knowledge that they do not anymore have the support of fit bodies they once had. It is an inevitable state of body and mind of a cricketer who has gone through such a long, hard grind.

Would the Indian team have refused Tendulkar if he would have said that he is fit for the Tests in West Indies but may not be able to throw so well from the deep?

I have found the scenes prior to his recent, long absences from the game quite strange.

After the series in Bangladesh in December 2004, in which he scored a double century, he followed that up with another innings of 36 and immediately ruled himself out of cricket for nearly three months with no warning signs of even discomfort during that series.

Even in the last instance, when he ruled himself unfit with the shoulder injury I found the timing of the announcement during that Mumbai Test quite strange.

Why would you want to make that declaration on the eve of your own and the team's very critical innings, when the Test match was at such a delicate stage?

There was another moment too: Tendulkar deciding to give the 2005 Super Series Test a miss. I thought that was a great opportunity not to be missed at any cost for someone like him. What a great stage that was to show off your individual brilliance.

Tendulkar said he had not fully recovered from the elbow injury. But just eight days later he was running down the pitch hitting Murali out of the ground in that knock of 93 against Sri Lanka in the ODI at Nagpur.

That Super Series actually was another evidence of how the two great men think. There was Lara, in Australia, hopelessly short of match practice, yet looking at every chance as an opportunity to play another memorable innings. Working on the principle that the more chances you give yourself, the more the chances of success. Tendulkar is not willing to take that chance.

The Tendulkar of today gives me the impression that his main focus is not to fail! And he wants to give himself the best shot at that. By competing only when he feel he is in his prime, physically and mentally.

In comparison, Lara's success has a lot to do with his failures. Lara is not in fear of failure. Lara knows that with advancing years, failures will mount. So while Lara is staying realistic, Tendulkar seems to be chasing a ghost.

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