I think some people would have written off the Indian performance against England after the first half when they scored just 232 after threatening, on current form to score near 270, at the 30 over stage. However they wouldn't have remembered any of that criticism after the match was won and lost with the odd decision of Javed Akthar when he adjudged Graham Thorpe out when the ball seemed to miss leg by an inch and a half.. (certainly not the 2 feet that "Beefy" Botham felt..) That to say the least is human nature.
To paraphrase Agatha Christie through the quote of Hercule Pirot in one of those series-books, "Speaking to people after a few days of the murder gives a greater chance of finding the truth. The greatest bias about a person towards him, is always created by his death".
Sitting down to think of an event that has happened a few days ago is always an advantage because there are more facts in the analysis. There is always less bias because of the result that happened. Which is why post match statements by "experts" and news paper reports from the next day are far from the truth. To really realise what happened, it is a good idea to read a weekly magazine.. A interview of the player well after the said incident. Possibly this logic flies in the direction opposite to general opinion, but I urge you to just think about this before trashing it. Let me tell you first up, that we indeed got less runs than we threatened to make.
The reason for that as for most things was Sachin Tendulkar. I am amazed the amount of coverage this guy gets.
If the Indian team plays, there is no way you can keep mentions of Tendulkar. In any case let make a small point by way of anology.. Tendulkar scratched around and never found his footing. Dravid who with Ganguly seemed to be going on well, reduced his boundry hitting and tried to give the strike to Tendulkar (for fear of statements from the media.. possibly) like he had and succeeded in the Kenya match. The results are here.. Score when Tendulkar walked into the stadium 2/93 of 21.2 overs in the next 11.1(67 balls) overs when we should have looked to consolidate, Tendulkar scored 22(40) (almost 60 % of the strike) and the partnership realised 46 runs. the scoring rate in these overs was 4.12 After this partnership, Dravid and Azhar played 6.2(38 balls) overs in which 34 runs were scored and the scoring rate was 5.36. Azhar played for 10.2(62 balls) overs after Tendulkar was out and 49 runs were scored in the intervening period of which Azhar scored 26(35) balls.
On the basis of these statistics, Azhar was clearly the better batsman and certainly seemed to be in better touch on the given day. But then he hardly got a mention. Jadeja deservedly got a mention as he had performed much better than both.
Why am I saying all this? I am just showing an instance that is part of quite a common occurance.(certainly not as isolated as sigtings of UFOs) But no one ever realises that Sachin is completely human. He is just a slightly better batsman than the others in the team.
Under English conditions Dravid is streets ahead of him against quality bowling. As far as utility is concerned, Ganguly has more than Tendulkar or anyone else as is being seen in good point systems. But, the media consider only Tendulakr God and the rest falliable mortals. This is not helpful because the opponents use this more than our team does.(To try and explain using numbers, think that a team thinks 80% of the game is over once they get Tendulkar cheaply, depending on media hype. The fact is that only 10 % of the game is over. But then the confidence they get after the act makes it very difficult to prove wrong. A recent survey said that anything that the people believe increases memory, does increase their memory. Just the belief that something helps, many times helps..which explains magic-healings by God-men. Once the opponents confidence is high, things which are allready difficult, like batting against international bowlers, becomes much more difficult.) This is a big double edged knife that hurts more often than it saves.
Is the fault Tendulkar's? No. Its no a 100 times over. It is the problem with the iconoclasty which is the falliblity of the East. (And the whole world during the medival ages. Read "A Yankee in king Arthur's court" of Mark Twain to get beautiful images of that period..) We are on the lookout for a super hero and cling to anything and everything that falls in the realm of thinking once the person chosen for the title proves it on a couple of occasions. Most of the time this super-hero does not perform to the expectations we have for him. During this time we find reasons to justify and do not criticise. Nothing wrong with that policy as long as it is consistent. If everyone and his uncle asks for Dravid's head when he can't score fast enough, then they must point it out when Tendulkar under performs. If we do not do that, we attribute great abilities to a person who has a reasonable ability and cause problems for others as well.
A recent Ajay Jadeja statement sums it up "25 years from now my son will ask me what was it playing with Sachin Tendulkar. He is not going to ask me what I did". I can bet none of Bradman's team members would have made a statement like that though the gulf between the abilities of Bradman and his team members was many times more than the difference in the abilities of Tendulkar and Jadeja. It is crime to expect Jadeja to do what Tendulkar couldn't in a tough match, after the statement he has made. That is the danger of Media hype.
To Tendulkar's credit is the capability of keeping a still head inspite of all the media adulation he has recieved. It's easy to imagine him going down the wrong ways of Mike-Tyson or Diego Maradona because of the media syndrome. I hope he keeps his head as high as he has held till now.
Anyway, had Tendulkar been a normal batsman in the vein of say Cullinan and had done exactly the same thing then the team would have reached 260 even.. That is the advantage of the South African team.. they don't have a big hero.. They are a whole teams of good or bad players, any way you look at it. For eg. in 1996 when Gary Kirsten in all one-dayers scored more runs at higher average and strike rate than Tendulkar, the South African media did not go ga-ga over him. Infact, when he under-performed against India in SA he was dropped. Can't even think of Tendulkar in that place. (part of the reason is he has not consistently flopped to date..) That is the reasons they have a high success percentage.
But then I know of a classic rebuttal that says "I always thought cricket was played on the field.. this whole idea of performances related only to the media is a wonderful learning experience." to my statement. I have a standard reply to that which says "It is very similar to the rising of prices of green chillies in a remote village near Mysore when America and Iraq face each other in the gulf". This wag would have still said " I always thought green chillies are grown in tropical regions and only on the soil.." but the modern world is a more complicated maze than the simpletons understand.(If I had made that statement sound "why rasam tastes more bland in most houses of Arkalgud when USA fires cruisers at Bagdad" even the rational ones wouldn't have got a hint.. Life's probably not made with the purpose of simplicity. We assume it, for easy comprehension.) After a huge digression(which is an unfortunate LCM of all my mails.. I would like your opinion on this.. I myself think lot of times that I must reduce digressions) let us get back on track. Let us look at the matches England played. SL- 204 All out Kenya-203 All out South Africa- 225/7(important) Zimbabwe - 167/8 India - 232/8
Was our's the best batting performance and did we prove the world that our batting team is the best in the planet? You tell me.Indian aggregate.. why, even the net run-rate are the best in the world cup so far. They have lost lesser wickets than any other side in the world.. but still there are some of us who don't have enough confidence in our batting.. I would like to invest all the money India has into buying some confidence for her countrymen!