Hi! I am “Mirror”, not just any mirror but “The Honest Mirror” – The famous mirror of Australian Ian Chappell. Remember he talked about me in his article, dated March 2007? Contrary to the popular belief that Mr. Chappell invented me, I have been in existence for a while now and always been honest to everyone. After Mr. Chappell, many others used me, indirectly, to target the same personality. Some of them were deserved critics of the game while some were the likes of Moin Khan and Sanjay Manjrekar who never had the guts to ask me any direct questions about their own careers, perhaps they were afraid of honest answers they would get from me! Anyways, all these critics were talking about only one athlete, who at that time was going through a series of injuries and a resultant lean patch that lasted almost two years. The name in questions was – Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
Mr Chappell, a fantastic batsman and a great cricketer himself, asked me some very honest questions, however, he assumed the answers himself and published them. Many other critics did the same thing in a rush to write Sachin off. They definitely had a case there, after all, since the tendonitis started bothering him at the beginning of the 2004-05 season, for next two seasons, his Test-Batting average dropped to 42 compared with his career average of 55. So what if he had a tennis elbow surgery done, followed by a finger surgery, and a shoulder operated within the next two seasons. I could have come out and given my true answers right there in March of 2007, but I do realize that most people tend to have short term memories and my answers wouldn’t have been looked in perspective of his golden 16 years of career, but much rather in light of latest two lean years. Thus, I wanted to have enough sample of data to provide answers, so please review the tabulated data below.
Interesting, isn’t it? The other intriguing fact is in 2005 Sachin was entering his 33rd year. So you might ask What’s so great about the 33rd year? Well, many of the great batsman from Sobers, Richards, Gavaskar, Chappell brothers to Boycott had their batting statistics take a dive at 33. Some of them recovered masterfully while some never did. Ian Chappell, himself, saw his batting drop from a career average of 42 to a meeker 24 during that “33 phase” and he never recovered from that, perhaps that is why he expected that when Sachin, at 33, asks me Mirror, mirror on the wall should I retire? And I would say – Yes. The data I provided clearly reflects that my answer would have been a resounding no.
The other important question that Mr. Chappell posed was Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the best batsman of all? Again, he assumed the answer would B.C. Lara, without bothering ask what I truly felt. Yes, Lara is one of greatest cricketer on the earth, a rare breed who broke the record for the highest individual score twice. However, Lara didn’t have to carry expectations of billions of cricket lovers, that include fans and fanatics alike. Lara was never expected to score a ton at every outing, and Lara never batted an entire decade like a lone warrior. Colonel Lara had company of able Lieutenants like Richardson, Hooper, Sarwan, Chanderpaul, and Gayle, throughout his illustrious career. In the epic innings of 153 against Australia, it was tenth man Ambrose, who contributed 12 and forged a 54 runs stand with Lara. Now compare that with the Tendulkar classic at Chennai versus Pakistan, while Sachin made half of the target himself, team India’s nine, ten, and jack made a combined effort of two runs, and the margin of that defeat was 12 runs.
I wish, Mr. Chappell would have asked me just a couple of more questions. First: Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the best critic of all? I would have promptly replied – Sir Donald George Bradman, the only batsman on this planet, who almost scored a ton at every outing on a cricket field. And then the second question should have been: Mirror, mirror on the wall, did the best critic of all ever praise any batsman? Again, the prompt answer would have been Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar – the only batsman on this planet, who reminded Sir Bradman of his younger days. Apparently, these are the only two batsmen in the universe, against whom; two English captains devised an un-sportsman like tactic, merely to contain them. One was Douglas Jardin with his Bodyline in 1932-33, and the other was Nasser Hussain with Boringline (asking his bowlers to bowl wide outside the leg stump) in 2001-02.
So I wait here, Mr. Chappell, to see if you come back and ask me Mirror, mirror on the wall, am I a bad judge after all? Till then, this mirror will sit on the wall and watch many of the records fall.
-Nikhil Sharad Jadhav