Friday, 24 October 2008

Why Tendulkar is better than Lara

Tendulkar or Lara, Lara or Tendulkar? The two highest scorers in test cricket. No doubt they are both great, but who is better?

Let me lay the cards on the table first. As an Arsenal fan I cannot bring myself to cheer Tottenham, and it follows that as a fan of the Pakistan cricket team, I find it difficult to cheer for Indian cricketers. So last week when Lara and Tendulkar were tied at the top of the table for the most career runs, and I knew I had to write this post comparing the two, I was secretly cheering for Lara. The Lara who scored a world record 375, and then when he was overtaken, came back with an unbeaten 400 a decade later. The Lara who made you sit at the edge of your seat because you never knew what was coming the next ball, a slashed four through covers or a snicked catch to gully. But, when I did the analysis, Tendulkar doesn't just beat Lara, he rules him.

There are numbers to compare them with but first there are other factors that must be mentioned. Tendulkar went out to bat each time in the suffocating glare of a billion people. The intrusions, the pressure, the expectation on him for the last 20 years has been immense. And through it all he has been unflappable. Lest we forget, Tendulkar came to public prominence as a 16yr old by putting up a world record unbroken partnership of 664 runs for his school with another 17yr old prodigy by the name of Vinod Ganpat Kambli. Anyone remember him? Kambli averaged 54.2 in 17 tests with 2 double centuries and 2 single ones and then fizzled out and retired by the age of 24. Tendulkar has gone on for another 13 years and still averages over 54.

By contrast when Lara broke the Test and first class record by scoring 375 and 501 within two months in 1994, the resulting fame turned him into a confused and contradictory figure. He fell in and out of love with cricket, fought with team mates and administrators and it didn't help that he played for a losing team. Yes, his 400 not out and 501 are the highest individual scores for Test and First Class matches, but he can statistically rival Tendulkar in little else:

Matches Runs Highest Bat Avg. 100s
Tend 151 11939 241 54.02 39
Lara 131 11953 400 52.88 34

Tendulkar has scored more runs at a higher average with the help of more centuries. That should be the end of the argument. But some Lara supporters argue that Lara played better against the best team of their day, Australia. Also that Tendulkar scored easy runs on flat sub-continental wickets. Well, wrong and wrong.

Against Australia
Matches Runs Highest Bat Avg. 100s
Tend 26 2414 241 54.86 9
Lara 31 2856 277 51 9

Away Averages
Tend 53.70
Lara 47.80

Tendulkar scored at a better average against Australia than Lara did and with the help of the same number of centuries, even though he played 5 less matches. Also, when away from home Tendulkar's average was not only better than Lara's, it fell by fewer runs than Lara's did.

A few last mistakes to set straight then. Lara helped his team win more than Tendulkar did. Well, I looked at their averages for the matches their teams won. Lara 61.02, Tendulkar 62.67. Tendulkar's performance lifted more when winning.

One last nail in the coffin. When are the conditions most hostile for a batsman? When they lose the toss and are sent in to bat. The toss winner clearly making the judgement that the conditions will suit their bowlers and prove difficult for the batsmen. The average for both batsmen when their team lost the toss and were sent in to bat: Lara 34.71, Tendulkar 53.12. Case Closed!


Anonymous said...

One of your best...
You've destroyed my hero though

John Hinton

Anonymous said...

i think you need to learn the game that is what i think.

Anonymous said...

i will like to start a little debate wit you on who is better but the reasons you gave why tendulkar is better gave me a unequivocal idea that you seems to know very little about this game, first thing you said that tendulkar scored more runs with a better average with more centuries so that should be the end of the argument, well i am going to enhance your knowledge for you so in the future if you write anymore articles you would be a better publisher, in a case such as that the first thing you do is look to see how the batsmen scored there runs, lara beat tendulkar from 1000 to 4000 runs then tendulkar beat lara from 5000 to 8000 lara beat him to 9000 both took the same amount of innings 195 to score 10000 then lara beat him to 11000 and then sachin broke his record of 11953 runs but it took sachin 15 more innings than lara to break his record lara did it in 232 innings sachin in 247 innings so out of 12 categories for runs lara won 7 sachin won 4. next thing you talk about averaged where sachin average a bit more but like most other batsmen not outs is what really carry up there average, well my friend lara never needed any not outs to take up his. in the history of cricket only bradman, hammond, sobers and lara could average over 50 even if they didnt have one single not out in their careers, lara only have 6 not outs if he had no not out he would be averaging 51.52, sachin with no not outs would average 48.93. then you made reference to average overseas that is because tendulkar averaged 139 in bangladesh lara never played in bangladesh, then you talk about tendulkar average 55 verses australia but that is only when australia have weak bowling attacks for he only averaged 36.77 in 18 innings against their premier bowler GLENN MCGRATH, then you talk about batting first and here is where you clearly dont understand the game, when lara batted at number 3 he gets to the wicket at an average 10 for 1 sachin never batted at number 3. when lara batted at number 4 he arrive at the wicket at an average 12 for 2 sachin arrive at an average 94 for 2 which means most of the times sachin never had to faced the new ball because he is always provided with good starts from the openers od number 3, lara never had good openers so wickets normally fell very early. the you talk about match winning innings could you please tell me one single game sachin has won without very little contribution from the other batsmen? YOU CANT! seems liek you forget 1999 lar took on australia all by himself. if you exclude bangladesh and zimbabwe from cricket sachin average falls from 54 to 51 lara average still remains at 52. you need to learn this game my friend.

Anonymous said...

I just don’t understand why the common man/woman has a problem when people say that Sachin R Tendulkar is the best or better than Brian C Lara!!! The person who has posted 2 comment's saying that the author who wrote this article should "learn this game"; I would like to know how much does he know about the game. Do you know more than Steve Waugh, Tony Greig, Sunil Gavaskar, Richard Hadlee, David Shepherd(umpire), Ricky Ponting, Wasim Akram and many more who have categorically written & stated in the media that they are certain that Sachin is better than Lara but also the greatest maybe after Bradman! So Mr Anonymous if well known people in fact some of the greatest cricketers have no problem saying Sachin is the best, I don’t think you (who does not have the guts to even put his name down in his post and even if you did hardly anybody in this world would know you or even look at you, forget about even watching you play cricket even if you could), stop ridiculing this article. Everyone knows statistics are not everything and can hide a lot of shortcomings, and anyone including you and this author can project/mend statistics of their favourite players and make them the best or worst! You should learn to acknowledge what the cricketing world and most importantly what great cricketers think of Sachin.Oh & did I forget to mention that Richie Benaud, Shane Warne, also Donald Bradman & even your favourite Brian Lara have all said Sachin is the best or their favourite cricketer & included them in their Dream Teams! Yes buddy, all the above cricketing greats, you read it correctly and not some anonymous people like U & me! I am not talking about any Tom Dick & Harry's dream team on some internet forum which everybody keeps discussing in lenght (imagining they are the greatest selectors in their dreams maybe) and whacking their brains about, thinking their dream players are the best, and some will not even think of putting Tendulkar's name!
So my friend if 'anonymous' people in the cricket fraternity like Shepherd,Benaud,Warne,Hadlee,Greig,Akram,Waugh,Gavaskar & Bradman & even Lara clearly think that Sachin is the best and have no problem with that,I think we "mere mortals" should accept it gracefully and look no further to statistics.Who & I repeat, who the hell are we to argue about it! And lets not even talk about ODI's !!! If the Greatest think that Sachin is the best or their favourite than maybe, just maybe "TENDULAR IS BETTER THAN LARA"!

Anonymous said...

In continuation to my above post I did not mean to demean "anonymous" by asking what he/she had done in life but just trying to prove a point. I know everyone is entitiled to opinions. All I am trying to say is that if cricketers who play the game at the highest level, who have worked hard,gone through the grind of becoming International cricketers, won and lost,had injuries,lived in suitcases away from their families and gone onto become great cricketers,or Captain's of their respective teams,or National Selectors,or Commentators,or Umpires and even Authors of articles and books over the years;we should try and acknowledge their opinions rather than what we think who have abolutely no idea about how the game is played at the highest level and bring people down only based on statistics. I believe I would rather accept what the greatest cricketers think about the game rather than what we anonymous mere mortals think about cricket and its players. We all anonymous people could be biased in our opinion on different players based on country, skin colour, religion and even "betting", if I can say that. You may have had the chance to see some good innings of Lara and you may think he is the greatest and I being an Indian am biased that Sachin is the best. Ever Sachin since burst onto the international scene at the young age of 16 he has been CONSISTENTLY good till now against all countries, all types of bowlers all kinds of pitches and he has never seemed to have been out of form,except when he has been plagued by injuries. It is a known fact about Lara's inconsistencies throughout his career and Pontings dislike to Indian pitches and Indian spin bowling; and these 2 players are considered the best batsmen among this era. But the reason why the cricketing greats of past & present including Lara & Ponting feel Sachin is the best,that he never looks out of form on any pitch, in any country, in any weather condition or at any age between 16 & 36. He has maintained his awesome cricketing talent CONSISTENTLY and that is the key word and thats what the cricketers admire about him. The other things to admire of Sachin are his personality, his devotion to the game, handling of pressure from his fans, relationship with his team mates and peers, his preperation for the next game, his simple lifestyle and so many more, it is the complete package and that is what is so great about him. I believe if the cricketing world had to nominate a cricketer to represent cricket from Planet Earth to Aliens or another world, I believe Sachin would be nominated; but I can assure you if it was left to us anonymous mere mortals whi get our figures of players from Statistics and what we watch on TV or as a speactator in a stadium we would never be able to nominate anybody for certain and articles or post/blogs like this one would go on forever!!!

Anonymous said...

In continuation to my above 2 posts, I know Sachin has a shortcoming in the sense that he does not seem to able to score very high scores (comparatively), his highest is below 250 runs, but that does not mean Sehwag who has 2 triple hundreds is better than him or for that matter Lara is. Now Sachin cannot be the best in everything or hold the records for everything but he has his share of records and I can assure you that his number of records will be a record in itself if you really want to get down to it; there are a lot of Sachin fans,who have his records in detail! And I repeat in this post too, we have not even taken Sachin's batting as an ODI player into account. A lot of common people say that Sachin cannot perform under pressure or has not enough match winning knocks; and it could be true compared to Lara but then inspite of that, why do so many great players including Lara rate Sachin so highly or have him in their Dream Teams. So if a player who does not get a mention by Wisden, in their list of "Top 100 test knocks ever " taken out few years ago and more recently does not mention Sachin in the top 20 players of Cricket,inspite of that Sachin must be so bloody good, because most of the cricketing greats currently like Warne,Lara,Ponting,Akram and of the past feel Sachin is the best atleast in the current generation; we must take it at face value. Some say that, (including you anonymous) that Sachin does not face the new ball like Lara has to but the he does so in the ODI's by batting as an opener and I can assure you he has done very well there too.It's just that Sachin bats at number 4 and thats his place in the team. If Bradman or Lara or Viv richards were so good, so why did they not open the innings of their respective teams everytime and score each innings 99.96 or 400 or scare the shit out of the opposing teams respectively; thats because they themselves or the team management felt that they were best at #3 or #4 or #5 or #6! Also if you say that Sachin is scared of throwing his wicket and does not open because he cannot face the new ball well enough, it does not make sense because he does open in ODI's! Wisden just proves my point that statistics can make or break a player depending on who's side you are on and are in itself a mockery!FYI-Wisden which I believe is the mother of all Statistical figures and keeps taking out various lists/ratings/charts had also mentioned few years ago that Sachin was the second best test player of all time after Bradman & the Best ODI player of all time! So much for Statistics and who is the Greatest!