Sachin Tendulkar has played 199 Tests, 22 more than the combined total of matches played by his ten other teammates who played the first Test at Kolkata. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks at some compelling statistics and states such gulf may never be seen again.
When compared to Sachin Tendulkar’s 199 Tests, his team-mates (those who played the first Test against West Indies at Kolkata) have featured in a combined total of 177 matches. This compelling statistical detail does reflect the huge gulf in experience and the singular weight of Tendulkar’s experience in the otherwise young line-up. It is like the Sun in the Solar system, which accounts for majority of its total weight — such has been the colossus of Tendulkar.
Once Tendulkar retires after the Mumbai Test, he would undoubtedly leave a huge void. It would not only be in terms of the figure that he is at No 4, but also as an idol for millions around the country. But, in statistical terms, it does leave the Indian team a lot poorer.
Here are the batting records of the 10 other Indian players who played the first Test at Kolkata:
Now, let us compare the total with Tendulkar’s current Test record:
As one can see, Tendulkar is ahead on majority of the counts. He has played 23 more Tests and batted in 65 more innings than his team-mates combined and has scored 6,847 more runs. Not only that, but they don’t come close to him on the hundreds and fifties mark as well. Tendulkar leads his team with 30 tons and 24 fifties. Such a huge gulf was perhaps never seen before in the history of Test cricket. There have been greats in numerous teams in the past, but such a gulf is difficult to imagine.
Keeping this in perspective, one wonders what this line-up would look like post his retirement. For the first Test against South Africa next month, India would have a very inexperienced line-up. There may be a lot of talent and promise, but the important detail is that Virat Kohli would be India’s most experienced front-line batsman with only 20 Tests. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be the senior-most with 80 Tests.
Even until the series against Australia this year, the presence of Virender Sehwag would have ensured that the gulf wasn’t so wide. With the retirements of VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid and the axing of Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, the difference in experience is clear. However, this presents a challenge to someone like a Virat Kohli, who in all likelihood would take over the mantle from Tendulkar. Being the most experience batsman then, save Dhoni, Kohli has a huge responsibility. In One-Day Internationals (ODIs), he has already taken over the job brilliantly. But, the longer format presents bigger challenges.
As Saad Bin Jung, the former First-Class cricketer told CricketCountry recently, “If there was no Kohli, I would have been anxious and would have accepted that there was a cause for worry for our cricket loving public. But, with Kohli announcing his arrival, I feel Sachin’s retirement would be easier to handle for all of us for as we see another silver lining in the clouds
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