A battle for survival & pride: Do Sachin & Ponting need to prove their worth?

Having achieved almost everything in their careers, both Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar look like they are battling to prove they are good enough to be in the team, why?

Why did Steve Jobs continue working battling with cancer? The reason was twofold. One, he was so passionate about Apple and his job that he could not imagine a life without that. The second reason was that Jobs knew that no one could better him in what he was doing, at least till his mind and body listened to him. The results are for everyone to see. His last product launch, iPhone 4S, went on to become another record grosser, though the machine wasn’t great according to a few reviews.

Now let’s look at the careers of Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting and try finding a similarity. A fact that cannot be denied is that both of them are nearing end of their careers. Also, the bodies are not the same as they were 3-4 years back. They have a few voices of resentment in their camps to their existence. In Sachin’s case, MS Dhoni recently said that he cannot allow all the three openers because that means losing out on fielding. In Ponting’s case, the voice is clearer and Aussie coach went on record stating that Ponting might need rest from ODIs.

Let’s look at it from the individual team perspective and try finding out whether the teams are good enough to replace these giants of the game. Australia at this stage looks like they have found able replacement in the form of Peter Forrest and Matthew Jade. How much success will these guys get in the long term, on tough foreign tours especially to the sub-continent is a question that Arthur will need answering after being vocal about Ponting’s poor form in the limited over competition.

Tendulkar though looks irreplaceable. Virender Sehwag, the other opener is in terrible form and continues to be highly irresponsible. Gautam Gambhir has struck form recently but good deliveries often find him wanting.

The middle order except for Dhoni has performed abysmal. Both Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma on whose defense ‘Captain Cool’ jumps on all times, have looked pathetic and have done no justice to their talent. Rohit Sharma especially is guilty of throwing away his wickets after settling down which should be considered crime while trying to cement his place in the side.

Just the manner in which Sharma has got out should be good enough for reprimanding him. We all support giving youngsters ample chances but shouldn’t the youngster also feel for the side and be highly responsible. How can he after performing so poorly on all chances given, sit comfortable and play the next game at the expense of someone with huge experience, has better average and is more consistent?

The two gentlemen also have shown the toughest work-ethic. Some of it might not have converted into big scores but the fact is that when the entire Aussie team was resting at Brisbane, it was Ponting alone who was practicing at the nets and was practicing hard. They have been better fielders than at least half the sides and anyone can vouch on their safe hands.

It is often seen that professional sportsmen try stretching their careers too long. They know that their bodies are not the same but still it is the passion that carries them alongside the big question that “what after this”. The question for these two is whether they have reached that stage. If you ask me, I certainly don’t feel so. At this stage of writing I am hearing that Ponting has already been dropped from Australia’s ODI team which to me is pretty poor decision making. Yes, it is understandable that a team for 2015 WC need to be formed but would that be at the expense of losing away tournaments till then if the new recruits do not do well. Plus, would not someone like a Ponting be an exceptional playing mentor for these new recruits in trying places like India.
A huge worry for me is judgment criteria for replacing a stalwart. Ponting has been replaced after five failures in a series. Five failures for someone close to 14000 runs in ODI’s sound a little unfair to me. To add to this, he was not out of form having had a wonderful Test series against India.

Sachin fortunately has more going for him. He has been one of India’s most prolific scorers in the last two years and in both England and Australia where the Indian team suffered badly, he has been their second best scorer. Plus national sentiments in India run high for Sachin and both BCCI and selectors know they aren’t talking about any ordinary mortal here.

The facts above make it clear that both stalwarts are not hurting the balance of their respective sides. Plus, it is good that there is enough competition in the side which makes sure that even at this stage both the players are seen fighting for their slots, an ideal scenario for a good team.
I am sure the two of them will love to overcome this challenge as well as they have done all through their careers. If this would be the last mantle for them to crack before retirement, they would surely love to go out with the last hoorah. For the audiences, this would be a treat as it would be a fabulous contest seeing their heroes fight for supremacy against time.

By Rohit Sakunia
Indian Sports News