I don't think Sachin Tendulkar is all that he is made out to be. He is not worth what is being said and written about him, and the money that is being paid. Not in terms of runs, at least. And how else can you judge a batsman than from the number of runs he has scored!
He did score a few big scores during the earlier part of his career. But the big totals have run out now. I have not sat down and worked it out, but I think two out of three times he has failed in recent innings. And the third time, he has scored around 40 to 50, no more. That is not a run-machine, or any any other machine. That cannot be the output of the highest paid professional cricketer in the world.
True, he has potentials. Everybody says he has potentials, so it must be so. But the potentials have to flower into actuals some time. And Tendulkar is no tyro to rest on his potentials. He is no more a schoolboy being initiated into big cricket. He is 22 years old and that is old enough for any Test cricketer. By 25, a cricketer is in his full bloom, then the decline starts. Cricket is no more an old man's game,or a middle aged man's game, and it is getting younger every year.
Added to that is the fact that he has been in the game long enough. He has played in several series, been on several tours. He is the vice-captain of the team and on the verge of becoming captain, and how much more senior and more experienced can a cricketer be than that. One minute, they say he has got a very mature head on his shoulders. And he must have, considering he is not doing so badly business-wise. And next moment, when he gets himself out with a rash or a bad stroke, they say it is young blood rushing to the head.
Compare him with Brian Lara. Performance-wise, the latter is pitches ahead. Tendulkar has yet to score a double century in Test cricket. Lara has broken and established the all-time Test record, first class record, every possible record. Statistically, the two cannot be compared.
Or compare Tendulkar with some of the batting giants of the Indian past, Merchant and Hazare, two of the most dependable batsmen in the world, scoring big runs almost every time they went to the wicket. Or, much later, Sunil Gavaskar, his entire game was dedicated to scoring runs, not getting out. With Gavaskar in the team, we were assured of a decent score. With Tendulkar, we are assured of some entertaining cricket, provided he lasts out enough entertaining moments. Yes, he has got style, but what is style without substance.
This morning, when I read about the mega bucks that Tendulkar was going to make out of the World Tel sponsorship, I was happy. But I would be happier if he starts making some runs also. And, real runs, not in the Wills Trophy.