Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
“If you are passionate about Test cricket, it has to be from within”
Legendary India batsman Sachin Tendulkar has announced that the International Cricket Council (ICC) needs to “organise more Test matches if they want Test cricket to survive”.
Tendulkar’s comments come after he was named Cricketer of the Generation at the seventh annual ESPNcricinfo awards night in Mumbai.
“The ICC should take notice of it and organise more Test matches if they want Test cricket to survive,” Tendulkar said. “[But] I still believe Test cricket is in good hands, players are producing unbelievable cricket. If you see around the world, most matches have results, very few are drawn, which is probably due to T20s, so the formats are complementing each other. If you want more guys to follow cricket, T20 is an ideal format to introduce people to cricket. Gradually they can progress to one-day cricket and Test cricket.”
However, Tendulkar also noted that the ICC should not force players into playing more Test matches as that will only make the situation worse.
“When it comes to players though, you cannot force someone to like Test cricket,” he said. “If you are passionate about Test cricket, it has to be from within. And if it doesn’t exist in some cases, don’t force him, leave him, let him play one-day and T20 cricket. Test cricket is the ultimate format and it’s one format where the bowlers are always going to get you out. In Tests, you require planning, vision and execution. It doesn’t happen that much in T20 cricket, where you can be a hero in three balls.”
Tendulkar also reminisced about how much the game of cricket has changed throughout his illustrious 24-year career.
“The field settings were different,” he said. “Later on in my career when I walked in to bat and I looked towards point, I thought, ‘Point is catching so there’s a gap.’ But later I realised, ‘No, no there’s deep point already too’. With time, your style of play too changes. Today the kinds of shots played by batsmen are incredible.
“I saw [Zimbabwe batsman] Andy Flower play the reverse sweep consistently in a Test, he was 10-12 years ahead of his time. Twelve years down the line, it has become quite a common shot: [England captain] Alastair Cook was [in the 200s] at Birmingham, and he, of all people, reverse-swept Amit Mishra. The game has changed.
“Now consistently you see 300-plus totals, which is because of the rules change and also due to T20 cricket. Batsmen are prepared to take chances, bowlers have to develop more variations. In the 90s, I don’t think anyone bowled the slower ball bouncer like [South Africa pacer] Shaun Pollock did in the latter stage of his career, now it’s a regular variation. So maybe 20 years down the line, who knows how the game will be.”
Tendulkar won the award ahead of South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis and Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne.
Recalling his battles with Kallis, Tendulkar said: “His strength has been his focus and concentration. Kallis used to walk to the wicket and he would be looking down, and I used to tell jokingly tell out bowlers once he has realised which way the blades of the grass are, he is going to make us field for a long time, so get him out before that.
“Kallis pretended that he was tired, just come in there to bowl six balls and go back to the slips and field, but I knew that his effort ball would soon come. I always knew that one special ball was always round the corner and this was all part of his planning and he was about to execute that.”
Tendulkar also had some fond memories of playing against Warne.
“I first played against Warne in 1992 and you could make that Shane was talented, but he wasn’t consistent I felt in the first game,” he said. “The next encounter against Warne was in Sri Lanka and I was beaten by his flight. But I decided to go for the big one, I picked the length and fortunately that one went for a six. But Warne being a tricky character he walked up to me and try to instigate me, he said something. My habit was to play the shot and walk over towards the square-leg umpire, that was part of my preparation – not that I wanted to not hear what Warne had to say.
“But I caught him after the game, he came to our dressing room, and I asked him ‘Warnie, what were you trying to say to me? Now you can tell me.’ From then onwards, we became good friends.”