John Emburey: Tendulkar has claim to be better than Bradman

All eyes will be on Sachin Tendulkar when he tries to score the 100th international hundred of his magnificent career during the first Test between England and India at Lord’s. But it is the wider issues at stake which make this a really fascinating series and England, who want to knock India off their No 1 Test ranking spot, will have to be very positive in their approach if they are to beat them.

I see Lord’s as the perfect opportunity for England to get a fast start – the poor weather recently will mean the pitch has not had as much pre-preparation as it would have done and, if live grass is left on the surface as is usually the case at Lord’s, I think there is a chance for England’s seamers to do some damage against Tendulkar and India’s strong batting line-up.

Sachin is up there with Don Bradman as the best batsman the world has ever seen, and in my view he might even be better than Bradman. I don’t care what anyone says – if the Don was playing in the modern game he would not average 99 in Test cricket. It’s because of that remarkable average that Bradman is seen as the greatest batsman, but I think Tendulkar has been tested in ways that Bradman didn’t have the opportunity to be, and in many more different conditions. I’ve bowled against Sachin, too, in his younger days, and so I know from experience just how good he is.

As an England supporter, I hope Tendulkar doesn’t get that 100th hundred at Lord’s – even though he’s a lovely man as well as a brilliant cricketer – simply because it will give Andrew Strauss’s team a much better chance of opening the four-match series with a win.

I see the two sides as being very well matched. Both batting line-ups are very strong indeed, even though Virender Sehwag is missing the start of the series and that again gives England possibly a little early edge. England, with Cook, Trott and Bell in such form and with Prior coming in at seven, have the capacity to make big totals.

People have said this series will come down to how England’s bowling attack fare against India’s batsmen. They say England’s attack is stronger than India’s. I am not so sure it is as simple as that. I see India’s seam attack as being just as capable of doing some damage – with Ishant Sharma being as much of a danger in English conditions as Zaheer Khan.

Zaheer’s successes against left-handers – and England have three in their top six – could of course be a factor again, but Sharma has pace, gets good bounce from his height and most importantly he can duck the ball back into the right-handers with good control. Praveen Kumar is a third Indian seamer who impresses me – he swings the ball both ways and again, in English conditions, he could make an impact.

I’m not sure if Harbhajan Singh, on pitches here, will be quite the force he is in the sub-continent, but his off spinning duel with Graeme Swann during the series will also be fascinating to watch.

So much, for me, depends on the surfaces and the conditions that the matches are played in, but if the batsmen from both sides are initially on top then I would want to see England opting for the aggressive move of pushing Prior up to six and including five frontline bowlers. Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad, who seem to be fighting it out for one available place for Lord’s, could then both play and bat at seven and eight.

I can see draws at both Lord’s and Trent Bridge, and if that is the case then the third Test at Edgbaston might well be the time for England to go all out for the 20 Indian wickets they need to take to win a match. If you want to get to No 1 in the world then you have to be prepared at times to go to all out attack.

But, first, England have to start well at Lord’s and try to put pressure on India, who didn’t bat very well down at Taunton against Somerset and may not have had as much time as they should have had acclimatising here. They also have to try to shake up India’s self-belief, which is very strong under MS Dhoni who is an outstanding captain and a very calm and inspirational leader.

Dhoni never seems to get in a flap and is himself part of the fearsome-looking Indian batting line-up. He leads from the front as a player, but it would be interesting to see how he copes if the likes of Chris Tremlett and Jimmy Anderson, with a bit in the pitch, get in amongst the India top order.

England will be thinking that home advantage makes them slight favourites, and under Andy Flower and the current management set-up they are a much better prepared side and a much better managed side than has been the case in the past. Yes, England can match India – but have they got enough to beat them? These are four Test matches to savour.

*John Emburey played 64 Tests for England, captaining them twice.


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7 Responses to John Emburey: Tendulkar has claim to be better than Bradman

  1. David says:

    John, I can’t agree about Bradman.

    He never had a helmet and his protective gear was pretty pathetic – his life was often in genuine danger. That simply isn’t the case with Sachin.

    To average 99 under those conditions is an awesome feat, I don’t think Tendulkar comes close.

    • Rak says:

      Well said David!!!
      Don wouldn’t have played on flat tracks like Sach. Had he, the his average would have shot above 150 for sure.

    • alles says:

      David,i dont agree with either of u,u cant just compare players of different era’s,no protective gears in early days is not the criterion to judge any players coz players evolves with time,without helmets they had different strategies & with helmets current batsman has different strategy,if u take the case of helmets then am i right in calling all the present bowlers as the best ever coz they r bowling against a batsman who’s wearing all sorts of protective gears??then its also not wrong to say that lilee,garner,marshall,and all previous generation bowlers r no match to present day bowlers….in earlier time their were no computers to find chinks in the opposition camp like its done nowadays,we can give many pros & cons…

  2. Paulos says:

    I don’t care what anyone says – if Tendulkar was playing in the 20′s to the 40′s he would not average 99 in Test cricket. Works both ways John.

    The fact is, he has a average, so much greater, than the other great players of the time, such as Hobbs and Hutton, that proves, how much better he was. I mean, where talking about, 40 points average wise, than anyone else, it’s not even close.
    Tendulkar hasn’t even got, the best average of players around today and it’s debatable, whether he’s head and shoulders above today’s generation of players, let alone saying, he’s better than a guy, who he doesn’t compare against, average wise.

  3. Alex says:

    Bradman (1930s) and Tendulkar (1990s and 2000s) both played in the three decades where bat has been more dominant over ball than in any other decades.

    Tendulkar doesn’t even average the highest of his contemporaries (Kallis has a higher Test average).

    What defines Bradman’s greatness is how far he is ahead from the rest of the field. A Test average of 55-60 is usually seen as the hallmark of an alltime great, people with such an average have even been labelled “genius” (often reasonably). No batsman with a Test career of reasonable length has ever exceeded 60. So for Bradman to average almost double that is extraordinary.

  4. Dom O'Reilly says:

    Bradman would not have averaged 99.94 today. Why? Just because of the improvements in outfielding. How many boundaries of the 1940s would be a two or a dot ball now thanks to bowlers throwing themselves around the field and fielders helping each other – one stops and the other throws.

    What you can say is that each player faced challenges that the other did not.

    Tendulkar’s batted on five continents and not two. He’s batted against nine Test sides and not two. He’s had to adapt his game to one-day and Twenty20 batting rather than first-class/Test cricket. He’s faced bowlers who had video analysis of his batting. Tendulkar has also had just one innings in England before this Test and that’s typical of modern tours. Also, you can’t play spinners with your pads any more.

    Equally, Bradman played on uncovered wickets. He had rudimentary protective gear although I don’t agree that his life was ‘often’ in danger. It was only the Bodyline series when that was the case.

    They’re both great players – we can agree on that.

  5. aaa says:

    @paulos: the 90s was in no way a good time to be a batsman. practically every team on the planet had a pair of world-class fast bowlers and a match-winning spinner. In the 00s we have just dale steyn; in the 90s you had ambrose, walsh, akram, waqar, donald, mcgrath, gillespie, warne, murali, kumble, all of them in relative youth and prime form. And tendulkar played his best innings against these bowlers.