Cricket and India
Cricket is the most popular game in India. Millions of Indians follow the fortunes of the Indian team. Everybody wants India to win and it is a game that is popular all over India. Cricket also generates tremendous revenue and cricketers are the highest paid sportsmen in India
The game of cricket was introduced in India by the English rulers, but as things stand India has emerged as the driving force in terms of revenue in the world . No less than 60% finances accrue to the coffers of world cricket from India.
India and Winning Overseas
India has been playing test cricket since 1932, when India first toured England. In 2011 India toured England again , but lost the series 0-4. This defeat dismayed Indians.Earlier on the West Indies when Dhoni failed to chase 86 to win in 90 balls in the 3rd test against the West Indies, the decision dismayed a lot of Indians. Thus the bottom line is that the masses want India to win. India has rarely won abroad and that is a point that rankles with the Indian cricket fans.
All along Indians were looking for a messiah who would lift Indian cricket and lead India to victory abroad. India always won at home even earlier, but victory abroad eluded the Indian team. Thus Saurav Ganguly rightly commented that India to be recognized as worthy world beaters, have to beat Australia and South Africa on their home grounds.
Victory and Ricky Pointing
An event that has not been reported or commented much in the Indian press is the feat of Ricky Pointing, the Aussie test player and former captain. When Australia beat Sri Lanka in the first test at Galle, it was the 100th time Pointing was part of a winning Australian team. It was a historical moment as no player in the history of the game has been part of a winning team, that won 100 test matches. Not even Bradman or Viv Richards or Sobers or anybody.
Reaction to Pointing in Indian Press
The Indian press and public was luke warm to this historical achievement. One reason was that the public were anticipating a 100th century from Tendulkar. He already had 99 to his credit. Another reason is that 100 wins with Tendulkar in the team is an impossibility. Despite all the plethora of batting records that Tendulkar has piled up, India is not winning abroad. It is worth noting that on the two occasions India won in the West Indies, Tendulkar had opted out of the tour (The 20o7 tour under Rahul Dravid and 2011 tour under Dhoni).
Tendulkar and his 100 centuries
Ricky pointing may not have the records of Tendulkar under his belt, but he has done Australia proud by being part of 100 test victories. It is also on record that in these 100 test victories the performance of Ricky Pointing was not insignificant.
Tendulkar has duly achieved his 100 centuries, but the fact remains that his personal records though great have not translated into Indian victories. Nobody seems to discuss this aspect of Tendulkar.
Tendulkar and his records
Tendulkar played cricket for over two decades. I sometimes wonder how he was inducted into the test team without having played in the Ranji Trophy or Duleep trophy. This must raise eyebrows. To say that he had set up a world record as a school boy does not hold water as his companion in the record Vinod Kambli never got such an opportunity. Even later when he failed at times, he was treated with kid gloves. He also refused to tour West Indies twice on flimsy grounds.
Tendulkar thus established records more by longevity in the game. He was certainly not a match winner and on many occasions let India down by being part of defeats in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and even lowly Zimbabwe.
Cricket is a team game and though records matter, they are not a substitute for victory. After all a general wants to win the war and not a battle. A personal record is just a milestone on the way to a victory. But in the case of Tendulkar it has not happened that way. He has made his records but for India defeat is the milestone. An example is that with Tendulkar in the team, India has never won a series in Sri Lanka after 1993, never in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Alas! What use are these records if India cannot win.
The defeats abroad is not what the public was looking forward to. They wanted an Indian victory as well as 100 centuries from Tendulkar. Unfortunately Tendulkar could not save India in many test matches abroad. Well take your pick, 100 centuries or 100 wins. Lets not go overboard about Tendulkar. He was a good player, but not the greatest as made out by his fans.