Dubai: Arjun Tendulkar, son of the legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar has made it to the India Under-19 team for the tour of Sri Lanka starting next month. His selection has made big news with even international news agencies and televisions reporting it.
The surname of Tendulkar will weigh heavily on him and he will be watched and commented on for his performance in the coming matches.
It isn’t easy for any youngster to reach the India Under-19 team and tougher if the youngster happens to be the son of a great cricketer.
Most often his selection will be criticised even though there might be other players in the team who did not match his performance in domestic matches.
Arjun is essentially a left-arm pacer who can bat well too.
It is indeed a wise decision since being an all-rounder, the pressure on him to live up to his father’s batting records will be much lesser.
In cricket, the skills are nowadays measured based on the number of runs he scores and wickets he claims.
The pressure due to surname can be destructive in many ways because a casual comment that he lacks the qualities of his father is enough to destroy his confidence, especially when growing up.
I was a reporter in Mumbai when Sachin was making waves in schools cricket. Almost every day we published his exploits in the newspaper and Sachin was never under pressure to perform. When he made centuries after centuries, he began to be compared to Sunil Gavaskar but was never under pressure to be the next Gavaskar. Unfortunately, Gavaskar’s son Rohan Gavaskar had to face the pressure of expectation.
Rohan was an attacking left-handed batsman and bowled slow left-arm spin. He played for Bengal and produced many match-winning performances and showed the verve to play in 11 One Day Internationals.
Very few can take the pressure that surname puts on him and keep going. Don Bradman’s son did not play cricket but still changed his surname to Bradson to avoid attention. Lala Amarnath’s son Mohinder and Surinder played for India but only Mohinder lived up to their father’s calibre.
Arjun will have to face the pressure of social media and will be trolled. Sarcastic comments stating that he may become a Test player due to his father’s influence have already emerged. Some have blindly stated that he would be a failure like Stuart Binny, the son of Roger Binny, even before he started performing.
Those who comment on social media are aware that Arjun is now 18 years old and hadn’t created history like Sachin, who made his Test debut at the age of 16, but still enjoy questioning his skills. He is right now just another talented youngster hoping to make his mark.
Being the son of Tendulkar, he did get the opportunity to bowl in the nets before a Lord’s Test match between England and South Africa and struck England Jonny Bairstow’s toe with a yorker that created an injury scare. He had also got to bowl against many international cricketers in the nets in Mumbai but was not an automatic selection for Mumbai’s junior team. In the Cooch Behar Trophy last year, he produced two five-wicket hauls, against Railways and Madhya Pradesh.
When BBC interviewed Arjun and asked whether the surname is putting stress on him he said: “I don’t take that pressure.”
Arjun then quickly added that his father has backed him. “He has helped me a lot. But he didn’t force me into it.”
In Nov 2015, while playing for Sunil Gavaskar XI against Rohit Sharma XI, he scored 106 & 40 and also picked up five wickets in the match (including a 4-wkt haul in the first!) at the Sachin Tendulkar Gymkhana Ground, Mumbai in Nov 2015 in the MCA Under-16 Payyade Trophy.
For various junior sides
Matches: 19 Inns: 18 Runs: 501 Ave: 27.83
100s: 1 (106 for Sunil Gavaskar XI v Rohit Sharma XI at Mumbai in Nov 2015)
50s: 1 (70 for Ravi Shastri v Sachin Tendulkar XI at Mumbai in Jan 2013)
Balls: 1865, Mds: 69 Runs: 956 Wkts: 36 Ave 26.55
Best: 5/95 in 26 overs for Mumbai U19 v MP U19 at Mumbai in Nov 2017).
— Stats by Mohandas Menon