I was fortunate enough to spend plenty of time at close quarters with Sachin Tendulkar in my capacity as the coach of the Indian team. And I can state with authority that Sachin was an excellent captain.
During his first stint as captain, Sachin led the team on overseas tours to South Africa and the West Indies, and when he came back as captain later on, he went on a tour of Australia. Anyone will tell you that these are invariably the most demanding overseas tours. So while Sachin’s captaincy record might not be flattering, it doesn’t tell the real story.
I found him to be a very shrewd and thinking captain who wasn’t afraid of coming up with ideas. He was intelligent enough not to expect his team to play at his outstanding levels. But it is worth remembering that he had a very young and relatively immature batting unit at his disposal. Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid had just made their Test debuts when Sachin became the skipper in 1996 and VVS Laxman made Test debut under Sachin.
Even so, we came very close to winning Test matches overseas. I particularly would like to point to the Johannesburg Test in 1997 and in Bridgetown the same year as lost opportunities for various reasons. In Johannesburg, we were on course for a famous victory when the rains intervened on the final day. Strangely enough, it rained only in the vicinity of the Wanderers, but that’s how life is. The other instance was in Bridgetown when we were chasing only 120. It would have been a historic win because we had never won in Barbados, but when we lost that game, I could sense Sachin’s massive disappointment.
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