By speaking his mind in typical Aussie fashion, former captain Ricky Ponting has disappointed several Indian cricket fans by rating Brian Lara ahead of Sachin Tendulkar as the better player.
Comparisons can be fun, but they won’t, just like mere statistics, help you determine which is the better player because of different eras. Sure Lara and Tendulkar began their international careers at around the same time (Tendulkar in November 1989, Lara in December 1990) but while Lara played his last Test in 2006, Tendulkar is still around.
Sure, Tendulkar has not scored a Test hundred for more than two years, but there have been missed hundreds in that period as well so he still cannot be called a passenger in the team.
Ponting may have been kept awake at night as captain with the thought of Lara walking into bat the following day, but the Australian only captained Australia for two years while Lara was still playing. In those two years, Ponting only captained against India in one Test — at the Wankhede Stadium in 2004 when Tendulkar hit a vital 55 in a low-scoring game which went India’s way.
Does this tell you something? Probably, but we are not getting into any comparison game.
Lara to his credit has batted splendidly against the Australians ever since he first clashed with them in 1992-93. It must also be noted that the West Indies were still kings of cricket (mainly due to their pace force which India didn’t have) and the first time they lost a Test series in 15 years was when Mark Taylor’s Australians beat them in the West Indies in 1995.
It is unbecoming of a player of Ponting’s stature to compare two greats because you can never really get a fix through comparisons. While Ponting harps on winning, cricket lovers ought not to forget that he is the only Australian captain to lose three Ashes series.
Both Lara and Tendulkar are great players and probably this issue would never have seen the light of day had the Indian not decide to extend his career when his best is behind him. But then, Ponting did the same.