Here we go again, one of those debates about whether Sachin Tendulkar is a match winner, that keeps popping up whenever India is not actively engaged in the cricket field and we need to fill space with something.
This question indicates there are others far more consistent in winning matches for their countries. Admittedly, not many can beat Tendulkar where consistency is concerned but his contribution to winning matches takes a beating compared to Inzamam-ul- Haq and Ricky Ponting.
The yardstick obviously is how many of his centuries have been winning centuries. And how many of these centuries have been scored in the second innings of the match. This, the pundits feel relates to handling of pressure when it matters.
Inzamam’s total number of centuries is 25 but 17 of his centuries helped Pakistan win Tests and the percentage amounts to 68. Ricky Ponting’s 24 Test match-winning centuries are from a total of 38 and the winning percentage is 63 whereas though Tendulkar scored 42 Test centuries, only 16 have helped India in winning Tests. The percentage is as low as 38.
The most important comparison is the number of centuries scored in the second innings. Out of six centuries scored by Ponting five resulted in Australia winning Test matches. That’s 83 per cent. Inzamam had four winning matches out of six centuries — the percentage is 66 but while Tendulkar scored ten centuries, only three saw India win matches. The percentage is 30.
If the styles of these three batsmen are compared, aggression is a common factor but why Tendulkar is not able to convert his second innings centuries into winning ones is something very intriguing looking at the class that he possesses. Is it because of the load of expectations of the country that agitates his mental make-up or perhaps he is unable to handle pressure in the middle?
Makarand Waingankar concedes, after the above excerpt, that even if Ponting arguably was part of a strong batting lineup, Inzy wasn’t.
Granting that, the concession still misses the mark — and the leitmotif of this piece, which seeks to equate centuries and Test wins, is even further off the bulls eye: Tests are won by teams that can bowl the other one out twice in a fixed time span. Any analysis on these lines therefore needs to compare the bowling attacks that backed the batsmen in question, not merely the batting lineups. Do that, and see if the thesis still holds.
I’m not making a case for Tendulkar here — merely making the point that wins and losses in Tests cannot be interpreted as a result of the number of centuries scored by the primary batsman.