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Arjun Tendulkar must be allowed to succeed or fail, free of his legendary father's shadows

Jayesh Sinha
1.28K   //    08 Jun 2018, 11:04 IST

Arjun is mostly a bowler, who is capable of batting - a bowling all-rounder to use a modern cricketing expression
Arjun is mostly a bowler, who is capable of batting - a bowling all-rounder to use a modern cricketing expression

As cricket fans would know, Arjun Tendulkar, the son of cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar was selected for the India U19s as part of the touring group to play two four-day games in Sri Lanka. While this is not THE India cap but it is an India cap and people are ready to compare the father and the son.

Role wise Sachin and Arjun are chalk and cheese

Being the son of arguably the greatest (definitely the most famous) cricketer to ever play the game and then choosing cricket as a profession, means that at every step, Arjun's successes and failures will be measured against not those of his contemporaries but his father's.

Arjun has a slight advantage that where his father, though he possessed the bowling to fox most top batsmen, was predominantly a batsman, Arjun is mostly a bowler, who is capable of batting - a bowling all-rounder to use a modern cricketing expression.

Additionally, where Tendulkar Sr. was a right-hand bat, Tendulkar Jr. is a left-hand bat. As cricketing parallels go, the playing style and their roles in the team could be said to be chalk and cheese.

Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar (R), sta
The skill sets and roles of Arjun and Sachin are very different

However even so, given that both are cricket players, the unsaid burden of comparisons and of living up to his father's legend will always be there. Arjun will have to learn to deal with those.

Selectors cannot have the sword of bias constantly hanging over them

However, when I say free of his father's shadows, I refer to something else. When the news broke of Arjun's selection, there were subtle undertones of nepotism being at play. The reaction of a lot of people was - of course, he is Sachin Tendulkar's son, he had to get picked eventually.

This is what I refer to as him needing to be free of his father's shadows. Arjun Tendulkar's failures, successes and opportunities must not be seen as something of an offshoot of his father's achievements.

Doing that is the greatest pressure that can be put on the young prodigy. There is nothing that hurts a sportsman more than the fact that his achievements and opportunities were not earned through his own talents but through external reasons.

Another reason why it is important to back off with the nepotism is that it is important to give the selectors the freedom to back him without them constantly being accused of favouring him because he is Sachin Tendulkar's scion.

Let us remember that not everyone succeeds immediately and selectors have to persist with a player for years before the player becomes successful.

Not all players are immediately successful

The one example that instantly springs to mind is Rohit Sharma. The selectors picked him on the basis of his talent and he made his India debut in 2007. However, for years, his failures in the blue shirt made the fans scratch their heads on just why he kept getting picked.

Rohit Sharma & his 'talent' had become something of a running joke with cricket followers. However the selectors persisted with him and eventually, in 2013 he came good with the bat and cemented his place in the side and presently is one of the first names you put on the team sheet in white ball cricket for India.

Now just picture if Rohit Sharma was Sachin Tendulkar's son and every opportunity that the selectors gave him during his inconsistent run in the Indian team, was put down to simply the selectors favouring Tendulkar's son.

Would the selectors then have been able to back Rohit for so long? This is the tale of a lot of players. Not long ago Shikhar Dhawan's form was a worry and fans wanted him to be out of the team, but the selectors stuck with him and today he is repaying the faith shown in him.

The selectors need to have the same freedom to back Arjun, even though he struggles early, without constantly having their motives called into question and being accused of bias.

Both Rohit and Shikhar had the selector's backing when out of form

That is not to say that Arjun will definitely get a national team call-up and the selectors will definitely give him a long rope. For all you know, Arjun might never be considered good enough to play for India and never gets selected or gets selected and then the selectors feel he is not good enough and drop him following just a few games.

The point is simply to assert that the selectors must have the same freedom to either back Arjun or not back him, like they have with any other player, and if they continue to back him despite repeated failures, then the same should not be seen as some kind of bias.

The selectors must have the same degree of freedom with the youngster as they did and do with any player.

The selectors are after all in the public eye and constant mudslinging their way and accusations will get in the way of them fully doing their job.

Remember this is not the IPL, and Arjun Tendulkar has not exactly gotten picked for the Mumbai Indians. He probably will soon, now that he has an India U19 call-up, and Mukesh Ambani and Neeta Ambani will be free to stick with him even if he concedes 40 runs every game when he bowls and gets out for a duck every innings that he bats.

It's, after all, Ambani's team and the Ambani's money and they will play who they damn well please. The Ambani's aren't answerable to anyone in this regard.

Selection for the national team is a different kettle of fish, however, and if the selectors are constantly accused of nepotism or bias, when they select Arjun Tendulkar, then it will eventually start conflicting with their jobs.

Much like when they backed Rohit Sharma for years and years on talent more than performances, they may even need to back Arjun the same way. Will they be able to if the reaction from the fans is constantly - oh he gets picked only because he is Sachin Tendulkar's son.

That is why it is important that Arjun Tendulkar's career be seen as being completely free of his father's influence in all aspects besides of course, coaching and guidance. Arjun Tendulkar must be Arjun Tendulkar and never Sachin Tendulkar's son.

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Jayesh Sinha
A sports enthusiast and author of the book Greatest Sports Rivalries.
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