How big a match-winner is Sachin Tendulkar?

The cacophony of ignorant people too eager to pin down a master is nothing more than an ill-prepared symphony of star bashing. Ignore the fact that the genius has strained his every cricketing nerve to carry India to a dominating position against Australia at the SCG. Let us travel back in time — a sixteen-year-old lad, initiated into the hallowed company of stalwarts such as Kapil Dev travels with the Indian team to play in Pakistan. Imagine a 16-year-old English lad going to Australia to play the Ashes!!! He stood like a giant, against some of the finest fast bowling exponents at the time, and played like a man who was born to play this very game. From that moment, every single stroke Sachin has played was smeared with a dose of genius that made people sit up and gasp, including that great old man, The Don of Cricket. Yet, he has always carried the Indian badge with pride and his genius with humility.

It is a shame that people with dubious credentials question the very ability of Sachin. You ask, is Sachin a match-winner? Sachin is more than a match-winner, for more than a decade he has been the hope and harmony that has held our team together. He strode out into the middle with unmatched purpose and resolve to ensure that our team competes at the highest level with dignity and success. A soldier is not judged by the weapon he carries or the battlefields he conquers, but the character with which he uses his weapons on the battlefield. Sachin plays for a team, and we cannot think of a better saviour of Indian cricket than Sachin. Do not judge him merely by the runs he scores, for he has spawned a generation of fiercely motivated young cricketers that will carry the honour of our team for the next two decades.

Anand Datla, Gaborone (Botswana)

Which of the following pieces is the most potent in a game of chess — the rook, the bishop the knight, the queen or the pawn? Some might say that it is the queen. But anybody who understands the nuances of the game will not endorse this idea emphatically. On a chessboard the battle is won with imagination and skill; human skill. Cricket is no different.

Desmond Morris, the notoriously famous anthropologist has endeavoured to suggest that sport is a ritualised form of hunting and perhaps battle. An implicit relic of the primitive era! Let us assume that it is true and then forget it for a moment.

To the specific question of how good a match-winner is Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin has been part of the Indian cricket team for nearly 14 years. But it is only in the past couple of years that India have begun wining consistently. The present Indian team is brimming with talent and temperament. This does not in any way suggest that the players of the bygone decades lacked any of it. Only when the skills of eleven men and more are channelised in the same direction will a team become an ensemble.

Again, what is sport? It is the celebration of human skill. And skill is the sole match-winner. Tendulkar, Paes or Anand, and for that matter any healthy human being is an embodiment of that.

Rohith Shankar, Thalassery

FIGURES won't lie. Let's take the statistics of Sachin Tendulkar. In 111 Tests, Sachin has scored 9265 runs among those 2598 runs were scored when India had won. That is Sachin's percentage of runs scored when India won is 28.98. During his knock of 193 against England, Sachin came to the crease when India was finely placed at 185 for two. In his good knock against Aussies in 2001, India was sitting pretty, at 211/2, when the Little Master entered the arena.

Out of his nine match-winning centuries, six have come on batting friendly Indian soil. During his nine match-winning hundreds, Sachin never scored more than 45 per cent of the team's total to dominate the batting. Dravid achieved this feat twice while Bradman four times scored more than 50 per cent of team's total.

V.V. KRISHNAN

But his 155 not out against Australia (in Chennai, 1998) and 117 versus West Indies (Trinidad, 2002) were really masterful innings and won the matches for India. But the statistics show that Sachin is match-winner when the stage is set and the conditions are familiar to him.

Sagar Vijay Prasade, Pune

Sachin Tendulkar is as big a match-winner as they come. The talk of him not being one started gaining momentum when Dravid's efforts led India to a win in Adeleide.

Viv Richards, no doubt, was a great bat. But the incisive bowling from his mates supported his great knocks. In his first tour to Australia, he played many fine innings, but West Indies won only one Test, in which he did not score that many.

V. GANESAN

G. R. Viswanath's 97 (not out) at Chennai against West Indies was a match-winning knock. But the credit should also go to Prasanna who took nine wickets in that match. Gaekwad also made a fine 80 in the second essay and Vishy also contributed 46 in the second innings. Some of the other great innings played by the Indians could have won matches only if they had better support from others! An element of luck is also involved.

Cricket is a team game and the term match-winner is a misnomer. Let us celebrate the Indian team's improved performance instead of pointing fingers at individuals. One thing is certain, though, when Tendulkar hangs up his boots, he will be the only Indian commanding a place in any all-time Test or One-Day XI.

R. Varadarajan, Chennai

EVERY time Sachin Tendulkar does not perform to his standards, a debate starts whether he is the best or not. But the problem lies in our expectation not in his approach or ability. Every time he goes in to bat we expect him to make a hundred. After all he is human. He has conquered the world time and again and won matches on his own. He is the best match-winner India has produced. Though in recent past he has got competition from Sehwag and Ganguly in one-day and Dravid and Laxman in Test matches, we can confidently say that he is the best in the business.

Bal Govind, Bareilly

Coming at a time when the country was starved of sporting heroes, Sachin has carried the nation's hopes on his broad shoulders, for more than a decade. The pressure was always there, more so as the opposition and team-mates alike considered that victory and defeat rested on his performance. Remember there were no Dravids, Laxmans and Gangulys then. Still he has risen to become one of the best in the world.

Cricket is a team game. Steve Waugh played well in the 1999 World Cup but then it wasn't a one-man show. The number of centuries and Man of the Match awards show Tendulkar's class and calibre. There is no doubt he is a match-winner.

C. R. Femine, Bangalore

THERE is no doubt that Sachin Tendulkar is a match-winner. Just because he failed in one or two series one cannot doubt about his winning capacity. One should not forget that form is temporary but class is permanent. Sachin Tendulkar is a class player.

Gurukripa Dhinakaran, Madurai

Sachin Tendulkar is one of the finest players the world has seen. He is too good a player to comment on his match-winning ability. He carries enormous amount of pressure and expectations.

It is unfair to doubt his ability, As Sir Geoffrey says, "Form is temporary, Class is permanent."

I think his recent double hundred at SCG proved his critics wrong. The way he paced his innings speaks of his ability. His commitment and patriotism are unmatchable. At times he might have faltered, after all no one can be 100 per cent perfect.

M. S. Dasharathi, Mysore

Who is a match-winner? That too in a team sport like cricket. Is he the one who performs well always, when his team wins or who guides his team always to win?

Both statements are not true, because no player or country has maintained such a streak in this incredible game.

Then, who is a match-winner?

Mere statistics will not project a player as a match-winner; whereas, his tremendous talent and consistent performance; his approach and attitude and above all the respect he commands with his mere presence in the team; both from his teammates and opponents; act as indicators to decide a match-winner.

Sachin Tendulkar in his illustrious career has time and again proved that he possesses all these qualities abundantly. Even the Australians, the meanest critics, rate him just behind their hero Bradman.

Sachin has been a great role model with his gentlemanly behaviour, despite his huge stature in the cricketing world. He has always strived hard to keep our Tri-colour on TOP.

Finally, in the entire cricketing history, no other cricketer would have carried his entire nation's hopes on his shoulders for these many years than Sachin has.

N. Soorya Prakash, Chennai