Sachin Tendulkar (right) will be remembered for his stroke-making and effervescence while Rahul Dravid will be hailed for his ability to rally the roops under trying conditions © Getty Images
Before they embarked on the tour of England, the much-vaunted Indian middle-order made public their desire of scoring a hundred at Lord’s and getting onto the honours board. Only one of them was successful. And he went on to score two more hundreds in the series, only to see his team being whitewashed.
On the other hand, the man who it was thought would score his 100th century on the hallowed turf of Lord’s came a cropper till the last innings of the series. It was in that innings that he started to come into his own and the century of centuries and consequently, a draw seemed to be on cards. It was not to be as India stumbled onto a defeat as soon as he was dismissed.
As it always does, the failure of Sachin Tendulkar on this tour sparked off a huge debate about who is the better player of two. It is without doubt that if it comes to the range of strokes, effervescence, and rising to the occasion it is Tendulkar who would run ahead but when the parameters are set to being effective, competitive and rallying the troops it is Dravid that tops the list.
A glance at their records will reveal a lot about the kind of players that they are: Tendulkar, more often than not, is not out when he scores a century plus knock. Over 30 per cent of his innings have ended up without him dismissed. That proportion reduces to over 20 per cent for Dravid.
The difference is stark when we compare the balls faced for both these batsmen when they cross hundred runs. Dravid averages 291 balls for every 100 plus score, whereas the corresponding figure for Tendulkar is 247. The complaint about Dravid is that he tends to be slow off the blocks and more often than not, doesn’t raise his game. As the above statistic shows, the Indian innings tends to last 10 more overs, at least when Dravid scores a century. Dravid is invaluable as a team player because he tends to extend the frustration of the opposition team.
Before this tour only one century from 32 had come in a losing cause for Dravid. A distant observer would attribute it to good fortune. As the above figures show, the fortune wasn’t without effort.
The figure that shows Dravid in an encouraging light is the fact that he tends to average more than one century stand whenever he scores a century. Tendulkar only averages one century stand whenever he crosses the century mark.
Tendulkar has never had that dreaded series where he was unable to get off the blocks and ceded the advantage totally to bowlers. He very nearly had those kind of series in the Caribbean (2002) and Australia (2003-04). On those occasions, he displayed tremendous resolve to get into form. He overcame the problems against Pedro Collins to score runs in the final Test in the Caribbean and took the cover-drive out of his repertoire is Sydney to get into form.
Dravid, in contrast, has endured a few dreaded series against Australia and England. He was also in the danger of losing his spot during the England series in 2008. He dragged himself out of the wretched run by scoring a century at Mohali.
Their captaincies also show the kind of players that they were. Where Tendulkar went the extra mile to set an example for others, Dravid concentrated a lot lesser on himself to get the best out of the team. He was immune to individual accomplishments in pursuit of a team goal. Tendulkar himself stands as a testament for that attitude of Dravid’s.
It is, indeed, unfortunate that at a time when the two top run-getters in the history are in the same team, one gets to be branded as an accumulator and the other as a competitor. But as the saying goes there is ‘no smoke without fire’, the brandings aren’t without arguments.
(An Australian fan at sports. Loves Cricket and Tennis equally. Puts his biased thoughts into writing once in a while at raghavmv.wordpress.com)