Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why do people criticise Sachin? - A Cognitive Psychologist explains

(This post has been serialised in the author's Cricket Country column)

A quest : I had memories, statistics and inferences, but not the answer to a burning question. And that made me travel to Amsterdam.

I have memories.

My wife sometimes refers to my ability of recall  as ridiculously eidetic. While it has never enabled me to remember proofs of theorems or the final date of income tax filing, when the action shifts to the flannels on  green it is indeed striking.

I remember a young lad of 16, blood streaming from the nose, sprinkling the pristine white batting pads with  rivulets of red, and yet refusing to retire hurt – facing up to Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Zakir Khan and Waqar Younis in his fourth test match. Coming in at 38 for four, he saves the match with a three  hour vigil at the wicket scoring 57.

I remember a 17 year old, patient yet scintillating, coming in at 110 for four, save India once again with defeat staring in the face, working  his way to the first of 99 international centuries at Old Trafford.

I remember him as an 18 year old, taking on the fiery Australian pace attack on a lighting quick Perth pitch, scoring what remains one of the most talked about hundreds Down Under even as bigger and older names fall like nine-pins all around him.

I remember him waging lone battles in lost causes. Each time coming in at next to nothing for two. The 122 in Birmingham 1996 as I sat in the ISI hostel TV Lounge in Delhi. The 136 which brought India from 6 for 2 to the doorstep of victory against a rampaging Akram, Waqar and Saqlain in the fourth innings at Chennai. The 169 in Johannesburg against Donald, Pollock, Klusener and MacMillan after taking guard at 25 for 3. The 116 at  Melbourne against McGrath , Gillespie and Brett Lee while the rest of a vaunted line up collapsed like a pack of cards.

I remember him turning things around with a magical second innings 155 that gave Shane Warne nightmares and won the test and virtually the series for India in a fascinating counter attack under pressure. The two hundreds in Sharjah that had Tony Greig exclaim “Sachin Tendulkar wants to win the match.”  The one man assault he carried out with the bat and sometimes the ball against the Aussies all through the late nineties.
In the new century, in spite of a better Indian batting order around him, lone hands were often required. Rescuing the team from 45 for 4 at the Bloemfontein with a murderous 155. Batting out time to save the match from 11 for 2 in the second innings at Calcutta, toting up 176 against the West Indies.

For twenty years and more he has come in to bat with enormous expectations, seldom has there been a respectable score on the board and even now battling the odds after quick loss of wickets.

Through the amazing last few years, he has won an emotional Test Match against England with a fourth innings hundred chasing down a steep total on a turner. He has walked in to bat at 38 for 2 chasing 478 against Australia and has won the match with 214 and 53 not out. He has battled the pace of Dale Steyn to score two hundreds down in South Africa at the age of 37, each time coming into a boiling cauldron of heat and pressure.

I remember him winning the VB Series finals with  two flawless demonstrations of batting, taking India to the final in the 2003 world cup with a calculated assault on Shoaib Akhtar that left all speechless except the bowler who now answers with a pen. And he achieved his goal of a World Cup win, topping the batting averages yet again, changing the match in the semi final, with a chancy yet colossally important 86.


I have statistics.

99 centuries, 30000 runs – several days of light between him and his contemporaries. In test matc wins, more than 5400 runs with 20 centuries.

India has won 61 tests when he has played – they had won all 43 matches in the 57 years before he made his debut. In  ODI finals he averages 54. In won finals he averages 96. Chasing in finals, what people would consider high pressure, he averages 54 with a strike rate of 92.

If we count only test innings where he came into bat in high pressure situations, he has 18 centuries and 26 fifties.

I have inferences.

Mann Whitney tests show him ahead of all the others in Test Cricket. In matches won by India he is significantly ahead of others.

A categorical analysis show him to be the pivotal factor in Indian victories beyond any doubt.

However, I still had questions.

I can see the data and statistics, I can remember the results, I can vouch people justifiably calling Sachin Tendulkar the 27 for 2 expert of India.

 I have followed his cricket in ways more than that of a cricket enthusiast. I have swayed with him each time a fast thunderbolt of fury have passed him on foreign pitches, I have winced every time his elbow or back has given up on him. I have felt the pressure he has had to deal with each time he has paused and turned to look at the sun before making his way to the pitch, the score perpetually not much for 2.

The questions: Yet, why did people still voice their conviction that Sachin was not a match winner? That he crumbled under pressure? Even supposedly intelligent people with statistical education.

Why did people believe Lara has often won matches with second innings centuries and Sachin always failed in such situations when Sachin, according to data, outscores Lara and has 3 centuries in second essays of won matches to Lara’s 1.

What makes numerous people wallow in make-believe quagmire of their own where a man worshipped by cricket fans all over the world is brought down in his own land?

I was seeking answers even more as a result of my recent visit to England. The old country was full of admirers who considered Sachin the absolute master. Why is it then that India abounds with people who turn their collective backs to data, statistics, logic and facts while embarking on single minded bashing of the greatest modern cricketer?

There were questions I posedas I met Dr. Suprakash Roy, cognitive psychologist and researcher in Leiden Medisch Centrum.

Both of us loved the night life of Amsterdam, the mellow yellow light of the warm bars, the endless excitement of the city, the cohabitation of physical and chemical sin with the quiet erudite introspection of the Dutchmen. However, for this meeting, Dr. Roy suggested Amstelveen, inside the green expanse of Amsterdamse Bos, in front of the VRA Ground which had hosted a handful of World Cup cricket matches in 1999.

As we began our discussion, the embarrassingly academic looking Dr. Roy wiped his glasses and looked at me with an accusing eye.

“I am disappointed in you, Senantix.”

As co-writers for Scroll, we have been meeting each other off and on during the last year, but I could not remember what I had done to cause his dismay.

Cognitive Illusions “I understand that before a cricket writer, you are a cricket lover – I can excuse you for that. What I cannot excuse is that you continue to expect too much from your fellow men even when you have a statistical education. To cap it all, you are a novelist. You of all people should know how the human mind works.”

I politely reminded him that it was his job to know how the human mind worked.

“Ah ... it is my job, true, but in this case, what I am going to explain could have come from you as well. Tell me Senantix, you really expect people to be data aware? To understand probability?”

I said that there are criticisms that are baseless. Sachin, at one point of his career, was criticised heavily for supposed failures in second innings. He went on to save a Test Match with a second innings of 176 at the Eden, he won with a 103 in Chennai chasing down a steep target in the fourth innings ... on numerous other occasions he performed as the best batsman in the world should, statistics pointed to that and yet ...

Dr. Roy smiled and looked at me.

“You want people to have your memory for cricket matches? You remember the occasion when we were watching the highlights of the 1986 Lord’s Test in which Vengsarkar scored his 3rd hundred and you went on blurting out the exact words of the commentator ..”
“I saw the same highlights capsule in 1986 and I remembered ...”

“Twenty five years later? Do you think it’s natural? You expect the others to remember every cricketing and statistical detail?” he laughed. “You see, Senantix, when people criticise, they seldom do it with data to back them up. It is not that they are malicious or have a hidden agenda – in some cases they do, but often they don’t. It is just the way human mind is fashioned.”

I frowned back at Dr. Roy’s smile. He just kept smiling.

“I see that you take slights to Sachin’s name personally.”

“You bet I do. I would do the same if people peed on the Taj Mahal.”

“Ah, but this is different. They know not that they pee. Let us look at the problem at hand. The assertion is 
that Sachin fails if there is pressure. This induces a conjunction based judgement. Sachin’s failure will have to be considered in conjunction with India’s crisis situation. Human beings in general suck at such assessments.”

“You are kidding, right?”

Dr. Roy turned serious. “I am talking of Cognitive Bias, Senantix. I cannot be more serious. It is part of my research. In 1974, a pair of scientists, Daniel Kanheman and Amos Tversky proved the assertion through a series of experiments. You know, I wish we could talk in hyperlinks. That’s what the internet makes of us. Wish you could click a link and see what I mean.

“However, the most common demonstration of this is the Linda paradox, followed by the Taxicab problem. Look them up sometime. But I will give you a more sporting example. Lean back and think of 1980. Wimbledon. What do you remember?”

“Borg and McEnroe.”

“Excellent. And you remember that before 1980, Bjorn Borg had already won the Wimbledon 4 times in succession. So, he was a favourite. A group of people were asked three questions. One- what is the probability that Borg would end up winning? Two – what is the probability that Borg would lose the first set? Three – what is the probability that Borg would lose the first set and still win?”

“Okay.”

“The people in general concluded a high probability for Borg’s win, a low one for his losing the first set. But the funny part was that almost all put the probability of Borg winning after losing the first set in the middle.”

“Ah ... hang on ...”

“Right. If a trained mathematician thinks about it, he sees the fallacy. The third is an ‘and’ condition on events one and two, and so it should have a lower probability than both event one and event two. But, not many normal human beings think that way. People recalled all the recent Wimbledon wins and mentally computed a high probability of his winning. Winning in spite of losing the first set was also a relatively high probability outcome, but Borg the champion losing the first set? That is very improbable. This is known as conjunction fallacy. This experiment was conducted by Kahnheman and Tversky and documented in 1983. In fact, according to studies, the proportion of people liable to make this sort of fallacy error is as high as 90%.

“So, if you now conduct an experiment with a sample of Indian cricket fans before an innings and ask them the respective probabilities of Sachin failing, India facing crisis in an innings and Sachin failing with India facing a crisis, I can tell you what the results will be. Sachin, being the number one batsman of the world, will end up with a low estimated probability of failure. India, with the current anchoring heuristic of the English tour, will be given a high probability of facing crisis. But, Sachin failing and Indian crisis will have a high probability – defeating the probability rules altogether.”

He paused as I tried to reflect on this.

“But why is this firm-wired into the thought process that Sachin fails in a crisis situation, whereas throughout his career he has been playing in crisis situations? He has 18 centuries and 26 fifties coming in when the scores were little more than nothing for two or more. None of the demi-gods of Indian cricket, barring the two other greats Dravid and Gavaskar, even have 18 centuries.  “

The doctor smiled patiently.

“I was coming to that. Tversky and Kahneman tried to explain it by the representative heuristic. And they did a fairly good job. They normally did good jobs, especially if you consider that Kahneman got a Nobel Prize in 2003.

Inversion Fallacy “The fact is that human beings are not Bayesian. I am not talking about a walking talking encyclopaedia of cricket such as you. Ordinary fans do not remember scores with that degree of accuracy. And when it comes to computing a probability of failure of Sachin given crisis, they mess it up. The expansion of the Bayesian is pretty complicated to the human mind.”

He wrote it down : P(Sachin fails| crisis) = [P(crisis|Sachin fails) x P(Sachin fails)]/[P(crisis|Sachin fails)xP(Sachin fails)+P(crisis|Sachin does not fail)xP(Sachin does not fail)]

“Most men lose it when it comes to prior probabilities. In fact, in 1993, Dawes, Mirels, Gold and Donahue explicitly tested and confirmed that P(A|B) is most often approximated by the common human mind by P(B |A)”

“What?”

“Right,” the doctor smiled. “I will explain with this specific example. This is called Inverse Fallacy. Suppose a normal fan is asked to estimate the probability of Sachin failing in a crisis situation. Will he go by data? No, he will go by recall and representativeness. He will try to remember all the occasions of crisis.

“Now, when Sachin plays well, most often the crisis is averted very quickly. After an hour of Tendulkar at the wicket, there is no longer a crisis that seemed to threaten India. Now, with his modified style, maybe it takes a while longer. Most of the 18 centuries and 26 fifties that you speak of belong to this category.  People without the sufficient degree of interest and attention to detail will seldom remember when Sachin came in, and will not jot it down mentally as a crisis. The 214 he scored coming in at 38 for 2, chasing 478. If I have done my homework correctly, India ended up scoring 495. That will not register as a crisis situation.

“However, when Sachin fails, very frequently Indians do enter a crisis period. Very natural, given he has been the mainstay of Indian batting for 22 years. And these register as a conjunction of Sachin failing and crisis. Hence, you see what happens to the estimated probability? Probability Sachin fails given crisis is replaced with probability of crisis given Sachin fails. It is the representative heuristic. Normal fallacy of the human mind.”

He wrote P(Sachin fails |crisis) ≈ P(Crisis|Sachin fails). Cognitive illusion.

I was digesting this eagerly. At long last there was a scientific basis for all the hideous mutilation of facts I had been experiencing for a decade and a half. Amazingly it made sense.

“So, you mean to say there is no hidden agenda. This is a human failing?”

Other Biases The cognitive psychologist looked skywards and thought for a while before replying.
“I would not say that. This is the primary reason, but there are other external influences as well.

“First of all, we will deal with the Indian press. Especially, the vernacular one. Is there a limit to which they can stoop to bring an icon like Tendulkar down? They repeat every failure over and over again, in numerous sensation pandering television channels with the same intention of providing crude media masala. Repetition does lead to more and more acceptance of fables as facts. It is called, with minor variations, misinformation effect, mere exposure effect and validity effect. One can see the study of such effects in the works of Arkes, Hackett and Boehm in 1989, Schwartz in 1982 .

“Validity effect occurs when mere repetition of information affects the perceived truthfulness of the information. It takes on the form of recognition memory and is probably an automated process.  Hence, people are very difficult to convince even when they face data, since they believe that they remember. However, memory is nothing but a largely reconstructed structure based on current knowledge, beliefs and goals. The effect occurs for true and false facts equally. Advertising and propaganda are excellent examples. And what was done in the press from 1997 or thereabouts to tamper with Sachin’s image is nothing short of propaganda. Natural in a country where zonal bias tries creating own regional gods by pulling down legitimate greats. Also speaks volumes for a culture where Match ka Mujrim is so popular. You do recall that in the late 90s, a battalion of regional dailies went all out to tarnish Sachin’s reputation to place local gods on a pedestal.”
The caption with this picture in a Bengali daily
2nd Feb 2006, was -
"will Sachin stay on after such a dismissal?"
After that Sachin has scored
 another 4500 runs with 16 centuries in 52 tests at 56.53,
21 of them Indian victories (8 centuries) and 14 losses



Oval : Senantix (seen in reflection) taking the
 photograph of a journalist who penned
many such articles on Sachin ...
as also a glorifying biography

“I do indeed. I recall a line, even while keeping the little master of Bandra in mind we have to say that the number one batsman in current world cricket is ... And in 2005, when one demigod was sure of the axe, they reported that how could Sachin stay in the team even after his embarrassing dismissal? You know, I met one of these gentlemen who wrote such nonsense. At the Oval.”

“Did you throw him from the stands?”

“No I took a picture of him, actually. Unlike his writings, he looks a decent fellow.”

“ Anyway, to get back to what I was saying, if the same failure in the face of crisis is discussed over and over again by the media, picked up by the discussion forums of thousands of websites, recall becomes so much biased. That is the availability heuristic. Apart from creating the representation fallacy of identifying only Sachin’s failures as crisis as I explained some moments back, one also recalls the same press articles over and over again and these are more prone to immediate recall than the other fabulous innings played in similar situations.

 “I will give you an example of how immediate recall messes up actual statistics. In a well known experiment, participants were asked to deduce which is more – the number of words beginning with a letter, say ‘k’, or the number of words that have ‘k’ as the third letter. For k and also other letters, almost unanimously – or an overwhelmingly statistically significant part of the participants – concluded that the number of words beginning with the letter was more. However, the actual truth is the opposite. If you think about it, it is much easier to recall words beginning with k than words that have k in the third place. This is the availability heuristic, so prominent in the case of Sachin. It reinforces the representativeness bias.

“If you are wondering how Brian Lara gets the mantle of a great crisis player who wins matches in the fourth innings on the basis of one 153 he made against Australia, the answer is the same. Repetition induced availability. That particular innings has been talked about so often, it is an immediate recall. How many Indian fans have followed the career of Lara as you have done?

“And then there are the little things of belief and confirmation bias. This is a tendency to endorse arguments whose conclusions you believe, regardless of whether they are valid or not. Evans, Barston and Pollard published a well known study in 1983. The confirmation bias – people searching their memory to conclude a hypothesis they want to prove.”

I laughed now.

“All these studies will come to nothing. Belief heuristics are so strong, they will not even listen to argument, however scientific. Nothing will get through.”

“Right. Most often these people will casually ignore the statistical arguments, data or numbers. They will bank on words and tangential arguments.”

I jumped up, excited.
“Exactly. Tangential arguments, little or very erroneous statistics. Even from statistics  post-graduates from reputed institutions.”

The doctor laughed. “Believe me, even experienced clinical physicians fall for heuristics and fallacies when making diagnosis. Causal criticism is so much easier, and all the hard work on statistics and truth can be bypassed by spurious remarks.”

“Yes, they draw weird parallels, with politicians, with poverty line.... anything but actual data based arguments. And sometimes smoothly evade statistical work saying suavely, I leave it as an exercise...”

“Ah ... statistical hard work is beyond one’s ability disguised as beneath one’s dignity. But, don’t be surprised at supposed intelligent people falling for cognitive illusions. And don’t succumb to the illusion yourself that all the graduates of a particular university are smart. Without pen, paper, calculators, excel sheets, cognitive bias is very difficult to overcome. Only one percent will make the effort. So, don’t beat your head against the wall.”

I grunted.
“But, when asked for statistical arguments, they take the discussion elsewhere – attacking Sachin because he chickened out of captaincy, bringing metaphysical arguments about it not being correct to call him god, googling Cardus comments about statistics to come across as erudite ...”

The Argumentative Narcissist “Stay right there, Senantix. Let me put my finger on what is going on here. I am sensing this took place as a series of exchanges on the web. If I know you correctly, you are not very averse from using your skill with words to paint your adversaries in poor light in an open forum. First of all the barrage of numbers are too much for lazy critics. Secondly, I am sure you have used ill disguised intolerance, contempt and generally degraded them in your posts. Well, human beings, especially narcissistic ones, are not very welcoming to that sort of treatment. So, when everything else fails, blatant criticism is bound to take place where truth and facts go out of the window. As the author of The Best Seller you are the last person who should be a stranger to this phenomenon. You have described it so well in the book.
“If someone else – a regional icon say – had given up captaincy to concentrate on his batting, the consensus would have been that the great man was giving up personal glory because India needed him as a batsman. In Sachin’s case, he chickens out. If Lara scores 600 runs in three tests all of which West Indies lose to Sri Lanka, he is a great batsman making runs against odds, as he indeed was. But when Sachin does that, the consensus is that if he scores India loses. Who can argue with irrationality?”

“Well, laughable as it sounds, one such guy also said that India wins in spite of Sachin.”

“Look,  Senantix, if suspect pens are used to wage a war of words, one can expect some inane graffiti to hide the writing on the wall. However, if one capable of such a rampantly ridiculous statement, does he merit a discussion?

Revel in Sachin “There are a lot of people who say Tagore could not write, Ray could not make films. Why care about such tweets?

“Want to gauge how great Sachin is?
“Look at the records and find out which other Indian has played a pivotal role in 61 victories.
“Look at the team mates and the way they look up to him.
“Look at the opponents and their reaction once he is out – and even more once his catch goes down.
“Look at the real connoisseurs of the game.
“I have a patient who used to play first class cricket in the 80s. He works for a Professional Management group. On some evenings, a lot of ex cricketers get together over a few drinks and lambast everyone in the Indian cricket team. There is one exception. No one speaks against Sachin Tendulkar.   
“Look at Don Bradman and whom he invited for his birthday.
“And enjoy his mastery for the few more days that he continues to play.
“Forget idiots and egocentrics. Let them fight on against the mountains of runs, the century of centuries and the barrage of wins.”

He matters to the ones who matter
Never compare genius ... Neville Cardus


72 comments:

  1. Thumbs up if Harsha Bhogle sent you here

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  2. Actually every1(in the world) knows maybe Indian batting lineup go down but if there is sachin they r relaxed..and when sachin goes down..heart attack type..heart attack you can imagine.. dats y ppl criticises sachin bcoz of lots of hope in every match..1 more thing ppl remembers failure..

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  3. Great Article,Sachin Scored 169 at capetown not at joburg

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  4. I think now this document should also be treat in a way so that the immediate recall is the positives and not negatives about him.

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  5. What a Classy stuff! You rocked it mate! I have read numerous articles where writer tries to defend Sachin and ends up long story of stats! But here you have perfectly described the human nature and all the physiological elements which Criticize him!

    Hats off!

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  6. In the blur of thousands of runs and hundreds of centuries, Sachin lacks that "Ah Ha" moment, the kind Kapil Dev has -- the twin successes of saving the match at Tunbridge Wells and the subsequent victory at Lords, that can stick to our (nonCricketing) memory cells. That is why even though our head ( and your statistics) tells us that he is great, our hearts are a little grudging in our acceptance of the same.

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  7. complex yet wonderful! Thanks For Sharing mate :)

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  8. I totally agree with Prithwis Mukerjee jee, Sachin has not own India any Big match - he run away from taking responsibilities so he opted to be a Captain, World Cup was own single handily by MSD and all were singing praise for Sachin, what he did - if he could have he could have own us 96 final but he was playing for his record.

    Come on Guys accept the fact Team India is one who plays for country and Sachin is not team India who plays for his records.

    Give way to talented players

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    1. There is no requirement of an argument here, however... for all those who say "he doesn't score in the finals", first ponder as to HOW INDIA REACHED THE FINALS AT ALL!!

      And then again, making way for youngsters- it is for the youngsters to stake their claim with inspiring performances and not for Sachin to make way. I know the pleasure some derive out of deriding their own team, countrymen when they are in doldrums... personal problems being humbled by the corrupt politics and what not... For two decades now, Sachin has denied you that opportunity to crib... for he brings joy and does great things that we lesser mortals cannot dream of... so go on... take your pitchforks and sickles and try to get rid of him... When the he retires, probably you would feel better as the problems around would dwarf your own, again...

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    2. @travelIndia : What you call as run away from taking responsibilities is all what you understood it personally.He never said no to captaincy when he was given for the first time;he took it and on the roles in he understood may be he not capable enough to take the job,so he resigned. And when u say MSD took it single handedly in world cup,m sure your stats are very poor. If at all I am not mistaken, sachin was the only batsman after Dilshan,who scored 450+ runs in 2011 world cup. MSD was a complete zero apart from WC finals, dats it. And as said above by Shashank, sachin is not stopping the youngsters to get the opportunity, if they have the capability and talent let them make their own way...BCCI is not sachin,s property, selection committee can very well look into all that.

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  9. travel india : dont u remember yuvi and ghambir who fought for world cup .....just striking in one match is not important .....sachin doesnt play for record .......it is msd who play for record and his first place in odi

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  10. Travel India is the perfec exampl eof what the article talks about , and yes the last para nails it.

    @prithwis mukherjee, too many aha moments for Sachin as opposed to one or 2 by others ..... 98 sarjah, 2003 world cup pakistan , 200* .... majority of his career has been an aha moment .

    people will remember laxman's 70 something in mohali for a long long time, but have already forgotten Tendulkar's 214 and 53* in the next match.

    For a lesser player such performance would be an aha moment

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  11. Travel India and welcome!! Love you guys! The proof of the article lies in its comments :-)

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  12. Amazing Effort.

    A few things though...

    "He has walked in to bat at 38 for 2 chasing 478 against Australia and has won the match with 214 and 53 not out"
    Sensationalism, In test cricket batting in the 2nd innings is called chasing ? ROFL

    And the Shoaib Aktar Saga..All it took was 3 balls in that over to say Sachin pwns Akhtar n ridicule Akhtars statement?. A case of "Repetition induced availability" ??

    And also 'Tendulkar won the match vs England with 103',Sehwags 83 was way more important than Sachins and the 100 next to Sachin denotes nothing,if Sachin had score a few less,wouldnt have mattered..The point is - as Sachin and his fans seems not to understand,there isnt a difference between 99 and 100 runs.And i would rather have the greatest batsman of all time play the Sehwag knock that the other wayround.

    I for one think the main reason why people criticise Tendulkar is because of his selfishness.

    P.S Not calling Sachin 'the GOAT' does not mean they are a critic of Sachin.

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  13. One of the best articles I have read on Sachin.
    Why didn't it come sooner.

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  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  15. Greatness of this article is - The Critics could not stay behind here as well! And again pretty mindless stuff from those!:)

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  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. Those who criticize sachin are all same...they call him selfish, they say he plays for himself, when he plays india loose, he never performs when chasing and so on....critics should be achievers first...he is delivering since 20 years for the game and nation and still not stopped...is it not enough ??? cognitive illusion and inverse fallacy both hold good in sachin's context...
    great stuff, wish i could explain this to every sachin critic...!!

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  18. @Sportsfan,

    Re: Chennai test against Eng, Sachin ensured Sehwag's knock didn't go waste, as many of his own such knocks have been squandered by his team mates. Wouldn't you have blamed Sachin if he had got of out for 2 runs instead of hitting that 103? Then why deny the credit saying his hundred denotes next to nothing?

    Double standards much?

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  19. I dunno whether it is sad or funny that even after such lucid explanation about a human mind really works, some people continue to demonstrate the very same trait that this article is highlighting. I guess they never learn. :)

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  20. Brilliant effort to explain and enlighten! But as you well knew, there will still be those that refuse to be swayed! :) (not that I am one of them!)

    A memory I'd like to share with others is the 45 (in 33 balls) that he scored in SA in the 1997 tri-series final in Durban (if memory serves).

    The absolutely STUNNING strokes he essayed that day on a skiddy wicket (due to rain) against bowlers like Donald, Pollock, Bryson, etc. remain with me till today. That was sheer genius on display! (If anyone has a clear video of that, could they please upload it on youtube or elsewhere, kindly? There was a FEROCIOUS square cut of Pollock and a FANTASTIC pulled six off Donald that you just have to see!)

    PS: @Sportsfan - Do you know of any other "selfish" player who has 84 (just to be clear... Eighty-four) scores of 80+ in international cricket that have led to team victories?

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  21. its funny, when i first came in afternoon here,there was just one comment. but now there's a line of it.
    brilliant read. highly educative. and no non-sense. Dr.Roy is really a genius; the way he understood the various biases our conjunctions are creating against sachin. would have given anything to have this chat one-2-one with him.

    really fascinating stuff from Dr.Roy. Double Thumbs up!!

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  22. i just love you for writing this article as a fellow sachin fan it feels awsum...awsum. hats off to the master and kudos to you :)

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  23. Incredible.. Am sure all Sachin fanatics will read it with a lot of pride.. like I just did :) great article sir :)

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  24. @sportsfan,Travel India: Guyz .. you are educated, can't you follow simple logic ??

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  25. that was a gem of a writing sir!!!
    I too want to become a fine blog writer and working towards it...
    read my article ...Crash landing of the helicopter
    my blog address- http://cricketindia-dilse.blogspot.com/

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  26. Arnab,

    Great article and very well explained. I had a similar theory that certain innings being associated with people and considered as a prototype. In Tendulkar's case, his 136 @ Chennai being followed by Lara's 153 shortly lead to the perception of Lara being a better chaser/4th innings batsman than Tendulkar. Once that is ingrained in mind, people assimilate future data in purely those terms. They register only innings where Tendulkar failed than the ones he succeeded. Not too dissimilar to the way in which we spot only bad qualities in people whom we have judged as bad and good qualities in people whom we have judged as good.

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  27. loved it.. gr8 explanation.. thumbs up for the blog ..

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  28. what irony!! the most insanely illogical behaviour finds a logical explanation... ah well..

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  29. After reading this article and relating it to my just concluded study on Probabilities a month back, I resort to oppose the theories that Dr.Roy has come out with. I agree to what he has panned out here and while reading it, it perfectly seems to be awesome, but the very contradiction that I bring to this blog-post is that statistics are mere numbers which can woo an industry and can be gauged to the specifics of a manufacturer or an experiment with something that is sell-able or that is "under construction". Statistics to a human man scoring runs is outrageous for one, two it makes no sense to me as I am also a umpire associated to Cricket Australia (Read Cricket Victoria); because I know how tough it is to build innings and score fluently and in context to Sachin Tendulkar or any other cricketer statistics are mere numbers what actually matters is the fact that when there is need to score runs for the team its a totally new day to perform. three even if statistics are to be gone by, I believe there should be statistics where his numbers are to be gauged only and only through the bowling attacks and the kind of pitch he played on, Bowling attacks for one because each bowling attack has its own aura and abilities to which they are called LETHAL and pitches because each pitch has an essence where it makes a batsman and bowler go down to use it to extremeness.

    Lastly Sachin Tendulkar is a phenomena who I believe is naturally talented and selfishness creeps in at times because he is also human. To senantix Don Bradman called him for celebrating his birthday not because he thought he was the greatest batsman on earth, but because he shared the similar style of batting and two he is a humble human being.

    To the fools who in cricket sit down and can streamline that Sachin is GOD or Mr.X is better keep doing it because no one is bigger than the SPORT!

    I come under none of the categories where I sit and say that Sachin is GOD or LARA was better because what Sachin can do cant be replicated by Lara and what Lara can do cant be replicated by Sachin or any other batsman in that context (For replication read the shot selection and application of themselves as players in dressing rooms and pitches). They are great in their own terms because I believe they are diverse just by looking at their appearances and reading their respective names!

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  30. made my day for 2 reasons - (1) found another die hard sachin fan whose fists clinch (or as they say in mumbai "kaan ke niche do bajane ka" man karta hai) when some idiots "talk" about the god of cricket (2) got priceless gyan on the "human mind" and how it is wired.

    with this knowledge i forgive all those who know not what they utter when they open their mouth to speak about sachin. amen.

    he matters to people who matter ... well said.

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  31. Briliant stuff.. though I might have to read it for a second time to understand the biases. Point well made and backed up.

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  32. Brilliantly written, all I can say is this man has given millions of us great reasons to smile for the last 20 years. The least we can show is some gratitude

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  33. This article does the impossible of finding rational explanation for the most irrational behaviour, order in chaos, method in the madness of Indian cricket fanatics. The probabilistic explanations are incredible and researched, and the language is brilliant.
    I have a point to pick with Mr. Ramani here. Statistics do not matter when one starts the new innings - very true. It is a game played with a bat and a ball on a pitch.
    But when evaluating performances - and rationally - it is a tool that has to be used. Else, it boils down to the inane abusive discussion that one sees in most forums.
    In retrospect analysis of performance, one cannot do with anything but figures.
    Lara and Sachin ... senantix does point out with the picture at the end that one should not compare genius.
    Besides, did Bradman tell you personally why he invited Sachin?
    Anyway, absolutely brilliant article.

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  34. Very refereshing insight into the annals of Cricketing gossip, which I have fortunately steered clear of for much of my adult years, partially due to my disinterest in the game of late and partially due to recollections of sheer disgust that followed the match fixing scandals that brought down some of my most favorite heroes from the high pedestals that were the foundations of my love of the game as a child.

    Nonetheless, this brings me to recollect the famous "Quantum debates" that ensued between Einstein and Bohr in the earlier half of the last century... Einstein, one of the most gifted minds ever to walk on Earth, a brilliant statistical thinker himself, was averse to the idea of what he percieved as absolute physical realities being merely reduced to probabilistic occurances by the Solvay gang.. It even led him to unleash the (in)famous remark that at any rate he didnt believe god played dice! It was indeed surprising to many how the same man, who had brought Newtonian thinkers to their knees by causing one of the most revolutionary thought breakthroughs, was refusing to believe that causatory explanations of phenomena could be abandoned to embrace abstract mathematical matrices that were better able to explain (alteast on paper) what were observed "anomalies" in certain physical phenomena.

    I especially wanted to point this out to you in response your observation that "statistical hard work is beyond one’s ability disguised as beneath one’s dignity". Although this may be a very near-to-reality assessment of the dymanics that lead to such slander, I believe that the "belief heuristic" is a significantly more powerful phenomenon that drives people to do the conclusions that they reach.. I'm sure there was not dearth of ability in Einstein to comprehend the work of Born in terms of the mathematics involved, but as many critics felt it, Einstein was refusing to embrace the new way of thinking simply because he belived that Nature or God or whatever could never be discontinuous and that there "had to be" a simple explanation!

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  35. Splendid article. Great mathematical and psychological analysis.
    Chiranthan Ram : Interesting comment with a flaw. Anyone with Einstein's capability and intelligence would not go about criticising Sachin as the Indian 'fans' do.
    The part about conditional probabilty and inversion fallacy - some of the best stuff I have read in years.

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  36. I never felt the media (esp Indian media) ever highlighted Sachin's misses to such a great extent that it made people think he was not a crisis man. I still feel media only accentuated Sachin to a greater level than any other cricketer. Forget Lara, why do we still hear many of our own people think that other great guys who played along Sachin never got the limelight like he did even tough his knock was not the most crucial in a match. May be the anti-Sachin cult only increased because there were too many, unnecessary eulogizing of their god.

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  37. Super duper article.
    And the comments reflect what the writer was talking about.
    Akhil - missed the point totally, didn't you? It is bias of probability which gets enhanced with media harping. Have you read the zonal newspapers? They generally had a space reserved for criticising Sachin.
    TravelIndia and Welcome - grow up guys.
    Prithwis Mukherjee - I think Sachin has redrawn the benchmark of aha for himself ... scoring hundreds from 38 for 2 and winning for India is a once in a lifetime effort for others except maybe dravid, but an everyday job for Sachin.

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  38. @Aniket I wished Bradman came and told me about it personally, But I read in his Autobiography that is published for all. Actually in hindsight I forgot to mention along with the points that I have mentioned, The numbers look beautiful when a player has retired and has to sit and review his life on how well has he taken on with the game and how much had he got out from the game for himself. I only point out that Statistics are mere numbers because in sense of number of runs scored Graeme Hick or Jack Hobbs also has to be considered as one of the greatest people to play Cricket in terms of Numbers and should be compared along with Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Ricky Pontings and many other greats.. But these names cant be gauged and said He is great for scoring "x" number of runs.. I say so because Greatness is not in numbers but in the persons demeanor and his class of batting and their methods of application of themselves.Tendulkar,Ponting, Kallis and many others who go to bat out there are diverse and great in their own sense and Statistics are mere numbers even to these men.

    They only get Selfish when they are batting on 99 because there is sense of satisfaction that has to be achieved when you start to build on something and get to a finish line; this is natural human psychology. You can always see the difference in the approach of all batsmen once they have got to 100, the criticism of people come when they put this very equation of personal satisfaction ahead of the team's achievements.

    That is why I say nothing can get bigger than Cricket!

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  39. Mr. Ramani
    I also agree that nothing is bigger than cricket.
    At the same time, cricket matches are won with runs and wickets. Whoever is more consistent will contribute to his team more. That much should be axiomatic.
    The better batsman will definitely stand a better chance of ending up with a higher average and more runs given equal number of matches and conditions.
    You talk about Jack Hobbs, one of the greatest batsmen ever - and Greame Hick who scored tons of runs in county cricket but never shone in the highest level. How are they comparable?
    In a sport with so many numbers, if we know how to interpret them, we will stand a better chance to know the game.
    I agree Sachin, Lara and Ponting are all great in their own way. The difference of Sachin with almost all others is that he has played consistently at the highest level of his game longer than any other. Ponting had a long peak, but then crashed down and is trying to make up now, but cannot even begin to catch up with Sachin. Yousuf Youhana had a small short stint when he seemed the best batsman, then went down. Sachin has been playing - with minor breaks due to tenns elbow and other injuries - at a consistent 55 plus average for over 22 years. Numbers do point to his greatness.

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  40. Senantix,

    A wonderful narrative. I missed a lot of Sachin's glory years having lived in the US during the 90s, but the two I really remember are the assault on Shoaib in the '03 world cup and the wonderful innings against England in a win set up by Viru's quickfire 83. The shot I'll always remember is a pre-meditated pull of Andy Caddick in the 03 (?) WC to a ball outside off, and seeing it sail out of the midwicket stadium wall. Good memories:) All this despite SRT's documented slump in 04-06, when his arm gave way.

    The cognitive problem of P(B|A)~P(A|B) is very common to users of statistics. Consider the misinterpretation of the p-value and of confidence intervals. Bayes theorem is logical and rational, unfortunately its users, and specially its lay purveyors, are not. That is why the classic example of seeing the positive predictive value of a pathology test be poor even though the sensitivity and specificity of the test is very good, never fails to surprise students:)

    All in all, a great job. Keep on shining....

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  41. The USP of the article is the last para.it sumps up all the emotions of millions of Sachin's diehard fans.
    "And enjoy his mastery for the few more days that he continues to play." already tearing my eyes.Sachin's career has been like a beautiful dream to me which i never want to end...

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  42. Mind blowing , Heart meets Brain finally for all those critics :)

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  43. Dear Man, every word you wrote made sense...
    Puts me in more confidence about Sachin which I already had.

    :)

    An issue which needed to put under the right light...Keep going. Goodluck!

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  44. Too good man !!!

    Never before had I seen the use of basic class 12 probability P(A/B). U used it to show how the mind of most humans generally works. Awesome !!!

    Hail the God of Cricket !!!!

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  45. weldown// awesome explanation abt sachin scata.. keepn gng.. plz.. make dz 2 read a common people.. so, dat my god atleast nw stops 4m blaming...

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  46. Excellent Article...As a true fan of the "God" I was always intrigued by this very questions as to why so many Indians criticize him? Now I can just peacefully enjoy the 100th ton and many more to come!!!

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  47. Maybe the team loses because they think Sachin can win single-handed. From what I remember from most of the matches where Sachin scored centuries and India lost, only Sachin scored. And cricket is a team's game!
    Well written, sir!

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  48. a well written article.. thts explains why .. some ppl face criticism even if they hav no fault in it.. :)

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  49. Thanks for the article, am sure that it reflects the sentiment of masses. Just want to see him bat long.

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  50. simply amazing article..... so much research put into it!!! hats off to the author!!!!!

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  51. I get a partial explanation at least, now, for the question I have had for years !!

    Wonderful article, sir.

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  52. All said and done, my dear (un)educated brothers and sisters, let us see if you are able to extrapolate the number of theories/arguments used in the article regarding, beliefs, attitudes, their formation and expression-- cognitive illusion, heuristics, etc. to social, cultural attitudes, problems/practice of caste, our concept and practice of patriotism, (mis)treatment of women in the country--the list goes on. After we all have the same brain, all that changes is environment, information and access to information.

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  53. relieved to read this...but the problem is most of the people reading this article are die hard sachin fans...and not the people who actually need to read this...and they will never accept this...even if they find this convincing, they will never admit it....

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  54. Excellent article... Thank you for writing one like this...

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  55. Sachin did well in some games.
    Period.
    Sachin did not do well in some games.
    Period.
    India loses sometimes, wins sometimes.
    Sachin scores a century sometimes, sometimes not.
    Sachin should be selected based on his form and fitness.
    Sachin should retire when he wishes to.

    Why the hell do we have to connect any of these statement with each other?

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  56. majestic!!the article has made me realize that there is no point arguing with people who criticize the great man with trivial and absurd arguments..

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  57. In my opinion Sachin is the GOD of cricket not because he has scored 35k runs, not beecause he has the highest no of centuries, not because he has highest no. of 50s against his name but becuase of sheer joy and pleasure he has given me by watching him play. The entire nation used to forget ,and still does, their problems when he used to come to bat. He is perhaps the only cricketer in the world with whom the aspirations of an entire nation, ravaged by riots adn corruption, was aligned. His success was treated as the success of an entire nation, his failure a national failure. No other cricketer has evoked such emotions nor anyone will ever be able to do. True we had Dravid, Ganguly, VVS, Sehwag as great players and still they failed to capture a nation's consciousness as SRT did. If soprts are entertainment then SRT is the greatest entertainer ofall times. I am sure it has happened with everyone(even with Sachin's hardcore critics)that when India is batting the first question asked is "how much Tendulkar has scored?", and if he is batting well then we would leave all work and watch his innings or if he is out we would get with our daily chores. I dont remember who said this (probably Srinath)"If I have to ask someone to bat to save my life it will be Dravid but if God asks me whom would see bat as your lastwish it will be Tendulkar". This man deserves respect. I am sorry to say but India and its people dont deserve an icon like Sachin. Sachin deserves better following than Indians.

    Sachin is the greatest ambassador Cricket can have.

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  58. Excellently articulated! A comprehensive article. One might say it is one sided, but, what the hell, what is there to say negatively about the GOD! :)

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  59. awesome article..really loved it...!!! gr8 explanation..hats off to Dr. Roy....!!!!

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  60. Dear Writer, every word you wrote made very quite sense...
    Puts me in more confidence about Sachin which I already had.

    :)

    An issue which needed to put under the right light...Keep going. Goodluck! Very nice article indded.........

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  61. Superb!!! now I will haven't say anything to anyone who don't know about Sachin Tendulkar and his magnificent magic in world of sports. Thanks a lot. Great work indeed. Well done.

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  62. Super Senatix...what an article...hats off to you

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