Rediff Logo World Cup 99
April 30, 1999

Forum subject -- Celebrating Sachin: The Prem Panicker column

A note from Prem Panicker:

I'm told that a section at least of the readers see the Sachin debate as some kind of personal vendetta between Mr Arvind Lavakare and I.

Hence this quick note. The tenor of journalism has changed dramatically these last few years. Earlier, the reporter wrote, the reader read, and that was it. Today, the report is merely the beginning, the spark, the catalyst of debate, analysis, discussion.

The other day, when the Atal Behari Vajpayee government fell on the floor of Parliament, the evening news on Star was dominated by a half hour panel discussion featuring Kapil Sibal for the Congress, Amar Singh for the Janata Dal, Somnath Chatterjee for the Left, and George Fernandes for the government. Each argued their own cases, criticised the others for their roles in the drama of the day.

That was not 'personal' -- merely, the logical culmination of a news development.

Similarly, the Sachin debate here is not, never was, personal. Arvind Lavakare is a journalist with more years in the profession than I have against my name. He is a freelance contributor to Rediff, I am an employee of this organisation. As such, neither treads on the other's toes -- we have our own respective niches, and neither feels a threat from the other.

Thus, this is not about personal animus, merely about proactive journalism. Arvind, during a casual visit here, was arguing a case against Sachin, I was negating some of his points, our editor felt at the time that this would make for a good Point-CounterPoint style debate, and asked Arvind to write his piece, and for me to respond.

What this kind of debate does is what journalism is intended to do -- look at a question from both sides, get the reader involved as well, and then leave it up to the individual to draw his or her own conclusion.

Hey, who among you out there has not, heatedly, argued cricket with the closest of friends, and darn near come to blows? Does that make it personal?

I always believed that half the fun of cricket is playing it -- the other half is arguing about it. Part of that belief is reflected in the debate Arvind and I just indulged in. Another part is reflected in the Forum box, which allows you to have your say. And neither the articles we write, nor the responses you come up with, are -- or so I would like to think -- 'personal'.

Celebrating Sachin:
Brian Parker: It is absolutely unfair to compare Sachin to any of the past greats -- The Don, Sunil Gavaskar etc. The pulls and strains of the game then, even the overall environment they were played under, are in no where comparable to modern day cricket. I detest stories/columns that make such comparisons. All three players -- the Don, Gavaskar and Sachin are greats in their own way!

Celebrating Sachin:
vasanth: thanks for soothing my heart which was so indignant after reading the original piece.keep up the good work!!!!

Celebrating Sachin:
Niju Ponnappan: Prem, An excellent report, I would say. Leave the legends to History. Who are we to compare them !? Lets' all hope that we still be blessed with 5 -6 years of Sachin by the end of which he shall be the record breaker in all kinds of Cricket Be it ODI or Tests, perhaps then " Arvind shall change in opinion based on Stats !!

Good work. regards

Celebrating Sachin:
Rami: Prem : You really SUCK man !!!

Celebrating Sachin:
chris: Arvind sounded like the MTV Lift man !!! Let home have it !!! Enjoy !!!

Celebrating Sachin:
Sajid Bhombal: I agree with Prem about what he said about statistics. Arvind Lavakare is a smart journalist and as any smart journalist he knows how to twist the facts the way he wants. "Get your facts right first. Then you can distort them as much as you like". Kuldip Nayar, in one of his recent columns, quoted Mark Tawin (An american literary figure). Arvind Lavakare has learned this art very well.

Celebrating Sachin:
apoorva Joshi: Dear mr. Prem Panicker,

I donno what to say to you, but I think the best word that would suit is a "THANKS". Thanks for giving it right back to Arvind. Thanks for making all the tendulkar supportors feel a much better! Thanks. I was wanting to say similiar things that you have said but just didn't know how to do it! Thanks again!

This is truly one of the most amazing reports that I have read. What you say is totally right. Arvind has to keep it in his mind that tendulkar is no God. He will make mistakes. But the only difference between him and the others is that the others make more mistakes. Tendulkar is no great individual who can lead India to a win. Any person on his day can. The only difference is that Tendulkar does it more often than the others. Sachin may get out early at times. But there are times when he plays similiar shots and they race to the boundry. There are times when they settle in the hands of a fielder. But stats. show that more often than not, they hit the boundry. And give Sachin time. He is only 26! I can bet that by 30 he will have a huge knock against his name in Tests and Prem, I suggest you send a fax of this report to Arvind once again!

Well written!


Celebrating Sachin:
Achutha: Who the hell is this Arvind anyway? Has anybody heard of him?

Celebrating Sachin:
cricfan: GREAT rebuttal. Couldn't add a thing to it. You deserve a standing ovation for this one.

Celebrating Sachin:
Rajit: The 2nd last line sums it all up. At 26 Sachin has given us back our passion and pride. I have a sneaking feeling this article by Arvind was written to give rediff some publicity. I personally don;t think it is necessary, you guys do a great job as it is.

Celebrating Sachin:

Celebrating Sachin:
Indranuj: Super!!! You've hit the nail on the head. That's precisely what most fans feel about Sachin. Why should any comparisons be made? Can any comparison be made with the feeling of pride, fierce passion and awe that grips us when we see him in the middle?

Celebrating Sachin:
Shyam Raghunandan: That was one lovely article. You do write well. I totally agree with you, Arvind was a little illogical in his essay. Keep the writing coming and lets hope you get to write more such essays in mid June Shyam

Celebrating Sachin:
Amit Deshpande: agdeshpande: For once Prem is on the ball. Kudos to a job well done.

Celebrating Sachin:
prithwee: a good article. prem, if you write these kind of articles abt azhar instead of criticizing him, i am sure azhar would do wonders.

Celebrating Sachin:
Sundeep : Hi Prem This is one of the best articles I have ever read about THE Little Master. Indeed he touches the hearts of all the cricketing fans of the world. I dont know what the hell Arvind was trying to prove, maybe he thought he could get into the limelight being different. That was stupid of him. And definetely he chose the wrong wrong day. Thanks again for the article. Sundeep

Celebrating Sachin:
Vasuki: Prem,

Excellent defence on your part.Arvind in my opinion had gone overboard with some of his analysis.

Again , Statistics is like a bikini ,While it reveals the real it conceals the vital.


Celebrating Sachin:
nandu: Hi Prem, You are my man. You are no less than Tendulkar when it comes to with the pen. I've got to frame this piece on my wall. Since no adjectives can describe my feeling , I'll just say "Thank You" Regards nandu

Celebrating Sachin: Excellent:

Celebrating Sachin:
Dr. Rajasekhar: An excellent column. Yes. We are all very proud of Sachin.

Celebrating Sachin:
Madan Chaukulkar: Great article Prem. I hope this one does go a long way in silencing the so called arm chair critics who not only have absolutely no experience whatsoever in cricket , but also find some way ot the other in trying to prove that they are the experts in cricket using statistics as a means , namely Mr Lavakare

Celebrating Sachin:
Paventhan M.: Really fantastic. Thanks Prem. Good lesson to Arvind.

Celebrating Sachin:
Sorab Dalal: Kudos Prem. Thanks for the rebuttal. Sachin does invoke a sense of pride and acheivment in us even those who have to rely on the net to read about (not watch) his great performances. Sorab

Celebrating Sachin:
Raj: That is the kind of rejoinder Lavakare deserves. You are right. Lavakare is like a drunk clinging to a lamppost of statistics. This is the kind of manipulation that goes on with statistics and number-crunching. People tend to forget the extraneous factors that influence a game, and the game of cricket, mine you, depends a hell of a lot on uncertainties. The abstracts do not get recorded. That is why statisticians cannot make a fair judgement of a player's calibre. I am sure AL is now embarassed at what he wrote. Pity, it took scores of email to bring this to his notice.

Celebrating Sachin:
Satish: Dear Prem,

Man, you have got fire!! This is probably your best article so far, and believe me when I say it, I have read every one of them.

If only statistics could tell the tale!! When I first read Arvind Lavakre's article, my mind was thrown back to one of the articles I had read in the Indian Telegraph once proclaiming that Calcutta is the best metro in India. The author highlighted all the negative points of the other three metros and only the positive points of Calcutta and merrily came to a conclusion. Journalists have to look at both sides of the coin. It's downright ludicrous and absurd to compare batsmen of 2 different eras.

Sachin is a master, and he will always remain that, in the hearts of all that have watched him flay bowling attacks, tearing them to shreds. If there is a batsman who can set your pulse racing while you are sitting watching TV, it is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Let us not diminish his brilliance by meaningless comparisons.

Celebrating Sachin:
Prashanth Sutram: Interesting Article. Its a mistake to compare batsmen of different era as was done in the earlier article. If any of you could provide one more statistic i.e. % of runs of individual compared to the teams total runs. Please do include Gary Sobers, Border, Richards, Miandad (the Great Fighter) and so many others...

Celebrating Sachin:
Ashok Mittal: Prem, While you definitely used this column to settle your personal vendetta against this other writer, you stooped to the same level as he did by first denigrading the great like Sunny. I almost stopped reading the articla in the middle of it. However you did come off ok at the end, I guess when your anger subdued to make a good point or two about leaning on the statistics to prove/twist most anything that you want to prove/twist and asserting that what makes this all interesting is that the greats are all human too.

Celebrating Sachin:
Radhakrishnan Srinivasan: Hi Prem,

Great article. You brought light about the folly of using Statistics to illustrate the point. You just illustrated the fact how statistics can misintrepret facts.

There was an article last year in India Today where Peter Roebuck salutes the little legend and goes on write what is great about this legend.

Here are some of the excerpts of the conversation the Aussies were having about Sachin with him :

"In history Sachin will go down as second to Bradman."

Following are some of the excerpts of the conversation Australians were having about Sachin.

Border: It's scary, where the hell do we bowl to him. Ian Chappell: Yeah mate, but that's with all great players. Border: Well yes, but imagine what he'll be like when he's 28.

I'd like to see him go out and bat one day with a stump. I tell you he'd do okay." - Greg Chappell.

Finish the argument, close the conversation, end the discussion about Brian Lara. The Aussies insist. Mark Waugh says, "Sachin's better; Lara is more risky outside the off stump." Shane Warne adds, "Nothing affects Sachin, Brian lets things bother him." Steve Waugh then takes the debate to a higher plane with one statement, a grand canyon of a compliment actually: "In history Sachin will go down as second to Bradman." What he's saying is this: Tendulkar owns the present, and perhaps one day will surpass the past as well.

Warne: "You have to decide for yourself whether you're bowling well or not. He's going to hit you for fours and sixes anyway."

Kasprowicz : During the Bangalore Test, frustrated, he went to Dennis Lillee and asked, "Mate, do you see any weaknesses?" Lillee replied, "No Michael, as long as you walk off with your pride that's all you can do."

From the Aussie dressing room bustling with hard men, all sorts of stories emerge. One strategy is "get the bugger to the other end"; another says, "We bowled short, on the off stump, nothing worked." Michael Kasprowicz is sort of speechless. In the first match, he hits Tendulkar on the pads, smirks, gets hit for two successive fours. This match it's two successive sixes. Now he swears, "Shit, I'm sick of this *$#%."

What makes him the one of the greatest is he strives really hard to overcome his weakness:

I cannot imagine any other player who is passionate about preparing himself for a match.

When India was visiting WEST INDIES, Sachin was asking the bowlers to bowl from 18 yards so that he could prepare himself for WINDIES tour.

ASK SHANE WARNE, He will tell you how prepared he was when SHANE WARNE was reduced to mediocre when he visited INDIA. Prior to the tour, SACHIN was practising in the nets with leggies to overcome his weakness.

Such is the dedication and sheer determination this cricketer has.

We don't need to compare him to the past players. Tendulkar owns the present. Ask any bowler the likes of ALAN DONALD, SHANE WARNE, AKRAM ? They will tell what a great cricketer.

Ajay Jadeja said about Tendulkar's innings when SACHIN brought INDIA single handedly to the SHARJAH FINALS: "I can't dream of an innings like that. He exists where we can't."

That's end of story. We don't need people like Arvind to use his ridiculous statistics to prove otherwise.


Previous Forum