Last year, when India was on the skids in England, much debate had centered around the performance of then skipper Mohammad Azharuddin.
A year later his successor, Sachin Tendulkar, finds the spotlight turned on him.
In the interim, much water has flowed under the cricketing bridge -- the four-nation Singer Cup in Sri Lanka which was Sachin's first outing as captain, the inaugural Sahara Cup in Toronto, the one- off Test match against Australia at New Delhi, the triangular Titan Cup at home, a three -Test series versus South Africa again at home, the one-off Pepsi Challenge Cup against South Africa in Bombay, the three-Test series against South Africa on the latter's soil, a triangular one-day tourney for the Standard Bank Trust Cup in South Africa, one-off one dayers in Zimbabwe, the Tests and one-day series in the Caribbean, a friendly tour to Bermuda, the four-nation Pepsi Independence Cup at home, a Pepsi Asia Cup and Test and one-day series against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, the second Sahara Cup in Toronto and lastly, the Wills Challenge Cup in Pakistan.
No exaggeration to say, then, that there has been cricket almost every other week, during the tenure thus far of India's latest captain -- the actual numbers being 14 Tests and 48 one dayers. And ironically, Tendulkar himself is the only Indian player to have played every single one of those games.
And a major talking point has been India's ability to produce consistent results during this period, coupled with Tendulkar's own mediocre performance, at least by his high standards, with the bat. The exclusive table attached attempts to look at both these factors in detail.
India has fared badly, with a success quotient of 46.42 in Tests and 38.54 in ODIs.
In the same period, coincidentally or otherwise, Tendulkar's own performance has dipped way below his own outstanding career figures, in both types of cricket. Thus, in Tests played after he became captain, Tendulkar has 996 runs in 14 Tests at an average of 45.27 while in the shorter version, he has 1556 runs at 36.18, with the aid of four centuries and eight fifties.
What is not contained in these statistics are the imponderables. The vagaries of selection, the absence when most needed of key players for one reason or the other, the dip in form of other members of the side... any and all these factors could and, in all probability, would have impacted both on the captain, and on the team.
However, if it is true that statistics do not tell the full tale, it is equally true that they tell at least a part of the story. And that is the part contained in the tables below this.
Does this mean Tendulkar is feeling the pressures of captaincy? That it is time to look for a replacement, before the job of leading India further erodes his performances with the bat? If so, who in the lineup is fit to replace India's best batsman? These, again, are questions outside the scope of a statistical presentation such as this -- what I present, here, are figures. Interpreting them is up to the reader -- and I would love to hear from them, as and when they come to any conclusions.
Meanwhile, India goes up yet again, against Sri Lanka next month. The nightmare of the last meeting between the two sides is still fresh in Indian minds. And this, in turn, lends an urgency to the debate?