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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

'Sachin is all that's good in cricket' - Clive Lloyd

A serious gaze of authority emerging from behind the brown-tinted spectacles tells you that Clive Lloyd is a hard man to impress. And understandably so, given he reigned over arguably the greatest and the most dreaded team in the history of cricket. Lloyd’s West Indies of the 70’s and 80’s sent ripples down the spines of their opponents. Having captained a bunch of world dominators, it is not surprising that Lloyd’s yardstick of rating a cricketer’s worth is mighty high.
So, when this man talks about a cricketer with genuine fondness, and his army-colonel -like demeanor makes way for a gentle smile, you take notice. That’s what we did when Lloyd, one of the greatest captains and thinkers of the game, analysed Sachin Tendulkar’s batting and career with warmth that belied the boundaries of the world. (Also Read: Sachin Tendulkar's Wicket: Blessing or Curse?)
Here’s Lloyd’s account of a modern-day master given to bcci.tv.
What is your earliest memory of Sachin Tendulkar and what was your first impression of him?
I’ve always come to India very often and whenever I am here people tend to tell me about the young cricketers that are coming through. When I came here during the late eighties, Sachin and (Vinod) Kambli were the two names I was being bombarded with. Sachin, more than the other guy, had people talking about him. Owing to his brilliant records and reputation, it was just a matter of time before he became a Test cricketer.
How would you describe Sachin Tendulkar in the context of the game?
If there is a cricketing god, Sachin is the cricketing god. He’s been excellent not only for India but the whole game. Although we are not Indians, we are proud of him because he epitomizes everything that is good about our game. If anyone is looking for a role-model in life, he is the person you’d want to emulate. He has played the game with integrity, has been a household name for over two decades and he has carried himself very well. He hasn’t been involved in any controversy and has lived a clean life. I never played against him but I am glad that I got the opportunity to watch him bat over the years.
You were one of the most astute captains with a great cricketing mind. How would you describe Tendulkar’s ability to read the game?
To score all these runs you’ve got to have a brilliant brain, which he certainly does. He reads the game really well. I believe he can be of great help to the Indian cricket team after he retires; he can pass on all his knowledge to the next generation. I really hope he is not lost to the game.
For the best part of his career, Tendulkar was the lone fighter in a team that often ended on a losing side. If you were the captain of that team, how would you have handled the situation?
I would have built a team around him; got players that can complement his game. If he is making so many runs, you need somebody to stay at the other end and I would have picked players who could do that with him. That’s how you build a team – you have one guy who is the team’s tower of strength and the rest who support him.
You must have watched so many great batsmen in your lifetime. What is that one unique trait that separates Tendulkar from the rest?
Consistency and concentration. He is like Gavaskar in that respect. Both had tremendous powers of concentration, they always came with the determination to give their best and did that with distinction. What also stands out for me is his fitness. He has maintained his body so well for all these years, which is one of the main reasons of his longevity.
Do you think Tendulkar could have emulated Gavaskar in the way he handled your fearsome fast bowlers?
He might have. I think he has the ability. I don’t know height-wise if it would’ve been difficult for him to negotiate our bowlers but I still believe he would have done pretty well.
If he played against the team that you captained, what would your plan against him be and which bowler do you think would’ve been most effective against him?
I had bowlers who could pick the faults of the batsman quite early. They were all great and anyone of them would have been able to test him in all aspects. I believe he would have scored runs against any kind of bowler because he is such a great thinker. But against my bowlers he wouldn’t have gotten easy runs; he’d have to work hard to get them.
Is there a flaw you and your bowlers would have looked to exploit?
I think, like with most players, it is handy to bowl to him outside the off-stump. He plays wonderfully well off his pads, as most Indians do because they have good wrists. I think attacking him with the off-stump line and men behind his bat is something that we would have done.
Tendulkar idolized Sir Vivian Richards as a kid and many feel there was a touch of Richards in his batting in the early days. Your opinion?
Yeah, some bits of it, I suppose, but I don’t think there is a great amount of resemblance in their attitudes. Viv was a different player altogether – he would come out and play shots from the word go and he would dominate all along. So, his style of play was very different from that of Sachin’s.
How would you describe Tendulkar’s evolution as a batsman over the years?
After they won the 1983 World Cup, the Indians realised they had to develop different type of players, and Sachin came around at the right time. He was a flamboyant player and then he also developed into an accumulator when the situation demanded. That adaptability and versatility is where his greatness lies. He played both roles – a solid No. 4 in Tests and an attacking opener in ODIs – with great panache.
Can the debate over who is better – Tendulkar or Lara – ever be settled?
They both have been great players in their own unique ways and we are lucky to have watched them both in the same era. I think Sachin scores over Lara because of his consistency. He scored runs with far more regularity than Lara did. If Lara had Sachin’s consistency, he’d be an even more tremendous cricketer. However, Lara overtook Sachin when it came to big scores. He never settled for a hundred or even a double ton. He always wanted to keep going and in that capacity he was better than Sachin.
Which is your favourite Sachin shot?
I like to see him cover drive, I like to see him play off the backfoot. He also plays off his pads tremendously. Most Indians do that but he does it with a special grace because he has lovely wrist and very good eyesight. I wish I had his perfect eyesight; it has been one of the biggest strengths of his batting.
And that one innings of his that stands out in your mind?
There are 100 hundreds and it is very difficult to pick one! But I have watched quite a few of his knocks on the TV and the century he scored in Sydney in 1992 stands out in my mind. It was his first Test tour to Australia and he batted like a champion against a good bowling attack for his 148.
source: bcci.tv


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