One-Day Mataram

Deconstructing the gentleman's game

Of mammoth partnerships and stern coaches

B Manoj Kumar and Mohammed Shaibaaz Tumbi, two 13-year old school-boys from Hyderabad, have managed to eclipse a record set by Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli in February 1988. They scored a world-record partnership of 721 runs off 40 overs to break the 664-run partnership record set by Tendulkar and Kambli. But then, you know that already! The news has been all over the media. These two (obviously quite talented) schoolboys are being heralded as the next Tendulkars and Kamblis. Too premature, I say!

Of course there is no doubt that 721 runs in 40 overs in a competitive match is no mean feat. But one must consider the fact that the other team was all-out for a mere 21 runs. That gives us a measure of the other team's ability (or the lack of it, at least!)

By the way, one interesting point to note here is the way the two mammoth partnerships were achieved.

"When we were on the 600-run mark, our coach informed us that there were 38 runs left for the world record and instructed us to play well and not get out. We were under pressure and that's why we played slowly," said Manoj. Added Shaibaaz, "I was just playing for myself and my school. I only realised when I returned to the pavilion that I'd broken a record by scoring a triple century."
[source: Cricinfo]
[emphasis mine]

And now consider a similar situation way back in 1988.

Tendulkar ended the day on 192, and Kambli was ten runs behind. Ramakant Achrekar, their stern coach, explained to Tendulkar that the team should declare first thing in the morning.


At lunch, selectively acting on Achrekar's instructions from the previous day, Tendulkar rang him up from Khao Galli and informed him the score was seven hundred and something, and that Vinod was on 349. He wisely kept his own score to himself, and instead told Achrekar that Kambli wanted to reach his 350. Almost innocently, he passed the phone to the horrified Kambli. The innings was declared immediately.
[source: Cricinfo]
[emphasis mine]

One coach specifically asked his wards to go for the record, while the other, uncompromising on discipline, demanded a declaration because he deemed it to be in the best interests of the team and the game in general. I do not say Manoj and Shaibaaz's coach was wrong. There is nothing wrong in going for records... because records, after all, are meant to be broken over and over again. But at the same time, this distinction in the coaches' approach highlights the discipline and team-play that used to be the hallmark of Mumbai cricket... especially Shivaji Park cricket under the coaching camps of people like Ramakant Achrekar and other lesser known coaches. It was this discipline that made batsmen play 'correct' cricketing shots along the turf. Because, the punishment for an unnecessary lofted shot (or for that matter for a spilled catch) was usually at least 5 rounds running around the huge Shivaji Park. ;-)

I can only hope that Manoj and Shaibaaz's feat is not a flash in the pan. Instead, I hope it's an indication of the exceptional talent that chief selector, Dilip Vengsarkar was hoping to see more of... in domestic Indian cricket!

3 Responses to “Of mammoth partnerships and stern coaches”

  1. # Blogger cherish the record

    well I have some objection in putting Mumbai or as a matter of fact shivaji park ahead of other cricket zealous states. and also R achrekar getting the credit of being a better coach than others. This in no way would take the charisma out of R achrekar who has been churning out great cricketers apart from sachin tendulkar and vinod kambli.
    first of all I would like to point out that this was a limited over match and the question of declaring does not arise,which would have been quite foolish to say the least. This could be equated to australia declaring before the 50 overs quota in the Australia- South africa epic match. thus the question of comprimising with the team winning at the cost of records does not arise. This was not the case with Sachin- vinod duo record where they were not playing a limited overs match.
    The 721 run record was made at a run rate that even international cricketers could not fathom and thus the credit should not be taken from these young Kids just on the basis of the other team bundled out for a paltry 21. However pathetic the bowling of the other team was, still the ball needed to be hit and hit with vehemence to get to a score like this with the caveat that one mistake on the part of the batsman and you plunge into one of the numerous teams around the globe who play professonal sports without being noticed by anyone.
    I would like to bring to your notice that during the record breaking epic of sachin-vinod, I too was unfortunate ( or rather fortunate) to get the wrath of this school. Our school ( i was a member of the team)was bundled out for a paltry 26 in response to their 624. I did see these guys play some wonderful cricketing shots but none of them came close to making a record inspite of our poor batting record.
    Long story short, its too premature to herald these two guys as our next tendulkars but we do have a ray of hope  

  2. # Blogger Sameer

    cherish the record>> Thanks for your comment. I tend to agree with you for most of the part. But have a look-see through the post and you'll find that I've talked about Shivaji Park's glory days in the past tense. And yes, in it's heyday, the cricketing tradition of Shivaji Park (and Bombay in general) was unparalleled. Personally, I have had friends aplenty who have learnt their cricket on the dusty ground at Shivaji Park and they have had greater regard for some other coaches (for the coaching effectiveness and discipline) as compared to Achrekar. But the fact of the matter remains that Achrekar's wards have been far more accomplished than others.

    As far as the declaration is concerned, who's talking anything about declaration. I am not! I am only talking about the coach's attitude. And of course I haven't seen the opposing team play, so basis of my surmise about their abilities can only be their performance, which was quite shoddy!

    I agree completely with you that its way too premature to label these kids as tendulkars or sehwags... but one does hope! :-)  

  3. # Anonymous Aditya

    the pictures of the young boys r everywhere.
    but can u bring a video of their innings.
    eventhough if it isnt a spectacle.
    it would still b nice t c the opponents and their age(size for that matter).
    or the pics of the opponent teams.
    many people r interested in that as well.

    but its a good article that u have got here Sameer.
    stern coaches r a part and parcel of most gr8 sportsperson`s past.
    though i dont know any1 else.  

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