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Tendulkar's diminishing returns
Rajneesh Gupta | September 16, 2008
There is no doubting that Sachin Tendulkar [Images] is the best cricketer India has produced, and, rightly, he is revered as a cricketing god by his fans.
The Mumbai batsman, who made his international debut as a 16-year-old, has broken nearly every batting record in both ODIs and Tests and is well on course to add the remaining few to his name before he hangs up his boots.
There was a time when an Indian side without Tendulkar could not even be imagined. But all good things have to come to an end, and the emergence of a young brigade, coupled with a spate of injuries, have put Tendulkar's performances under scrutiny.
The following table lists Tendulkar's performance in Test cricket in each calendar year. For five consecutive years (between 1997 and 2001) he averaged more than 60. But it hasn't been as rewarding since then, and in his last four years (since 2005) runs have come at an average of about 42 -- which is still a very good average, but not upto the standards he set over the years.
Tendulkar in each calendar year:
The following table gives Tendulkar's performances in each progressive span of 25 matches. He was at his prime in the third and fourth spans (that is between Test no. 51 to 100). However, the latest span is the worst of his career.
Tendulkar's progress in each span of 25 matches:
During his distinguished career, Tendulkar has suffered many injuries, but it is the famous 'tennis elbow' injury which seems to have cost him the most.
It was in 2004 that Tendulkar was troubled by a tennis elbow for the first time and since then he is not the same batsman we all have known him. It not only diminished his batting powers, but also signalled the start of an injury-ridden last few years for the batting maestro.
We take a look as how his performance has been affected ever since he developed this injury.
As the above table clearly shows, not only has Tendulkar's average dipped by 13 points after the injury, he is taking 10 innings to score a hundred on an average as against his earlier rate of 5.58!
The following table lists Tendulkar's performance against each country pre-tennis elbow and post-tennis elbow periods.
Tendulkar's average against Bangladesh and Pakistan has improved (more than 161 points against Bangladesh), but declined against major nations like Australia [Images], England [Images], South Africa [Images] and Sri Lanka [Images].
The reason why we are stressing on the tennis elbow injury is because that injury, in someways, has represented a turnaround in Tendulkar's career. Since recuperating from that injury, the 35-year-old has changed his batting style completely and now seems content to defend and give bowlers the respect, unlike the Tendulkar of the 1990s.
The following table perhaps gives the perfect idea about how the things have changed. Before tennis elbow, Tendulkar was averaging more than 62 in India's victories, but since then his contributions have dropping at an alarming rate. He now averages just over 37 in India's victories -- a sharp fall of 25 points!
Tendulkar's contribution in India's victories:
However, despite everything, we all know that Tendulkar still is a force to reckon with and much better than any of the youngsters around. But, honestly speaking, he is nowhere near his best.
But never count a genius out. We all want to believe that Tendulkar can still entertain us for another couple of years, though it all depends how his body responds. It is best to leave it to him to decide when to call it quits.
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