“ Kya shot mara hai, ye Sachin banega”
In India, cricket becomes synonymous with Sachin when a child holds bat for the first time.
It is not a learned fact. It is a subconscious respect garnered over years for a man who has been part of the journey of growing India.
What separates Sachin from Ponting, Lara, Kallis, Dravid and even Don, is the fact that the presence of Sachin at the crease had always meant a ray of hope to fight all odds. He represented the fighting India. The India, which has gradually become one of the strongest batting units, once had to salvage pride more often. The bowlers looked more menacing. And Australia were a team of a different class. It is a tale of those times. In most of those situations one man stood tall among the ruins. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
November 2013 it is. The good news is that unlike Dravid and Laxman, Sachin has allowed us to stand up and applaud a glittering mammoth of a career. The thundering sound of claps in Eden and Wankhede will accompany a billion teary eyes. It always makes a just story when the hero gets acknowledged for his heroics in the end. The bad news is he will leave the stage.
How do you measure the importance of such contribution? Many will state numbers. 24 years of career.100 centuries. 200 test matches. 34000 runs. First to score a double hundred in ODIs. Most runs in ODis. Most runs in test matches. Most man of the matches. Most man of the series. Most ground appearances. A long list of ‘ first player to’ and ‘most’ records. One can keep searching for them with different curious queries and keywords, but the list never ends. That is one way to call him a legend. But those who have seen him play, know that what makes him a legend is much more than mere numbers. Numbers, infact, are just a consequence of what he is.
Century after century. You won’t see a clinched fist or an overboard celebration of a century. A gentle raise of bat towards the stands. A thank you to God. And the helmet gets back on head.It doesn’t mean he has no emotions attached to his game. You will see the delight on his face when India wins a match or when an important opposition wicket falls.
For those who have scrutinized those records and tainted them as individualistic, for those who booed him at his home ground and those fair-season fans, Sachin never spoke a word to justify at press meets. He always proved through his bat. A modest little man with a passion: To play cricket for India, this is what Sachin has been in. He has stepped up when team has needed him. World Cups. Sharjah series. The Commonwealth Series finals. The South African test series. When not?
This is where he I feel he is a legend. A plethora of fans with giant expectations every time he walks in. Another set of people and media steams ready with stones when he fails. Serious injuries and surgeries throughout. A cricket obsessed nation observing closely every movement. This is what Ponting, Lara, Bradman never faced. They might have scored the runs.
But scoring all those runs amidst these conditions for a 24 year old span in all countries against all oppositions in all formats, is what makes Sachin Tendulkar special. A legend.
As Times magazine quotes it
“When Sachin Tendulkar travelled to Pakistan to face one of the finest bowling attacks ever assembled in cricket, Michael Schumacher was yet to race a F1 car, Lance Armstrong had never been to the Tour de France, Diego Maradona was still the captain of a world champion Argentina team, Pete Sampras had never won a Grand Slam. When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company, Roger Federer was a name unheard of; Lionel Messi was in his nappies, Usain Bolt was an unknown kid in the Jamaican backwaters. The Berlin Wall was still intact, USSR was one big, big country, Dr Manmohan Singh was yet to “open” the Nehruvian economy. It seems while Time was having his toll on every individual on the face of this planet, he excused one man. Time stands frozen in front of Sachin Tendulkar. We have had champions, we have had legends, but we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will”
Modesty and a passion to play, resulted in those records. It is sad to see when fans call his retirement a little too late. For a man who has stood so long to hold the fort, people should stop reading the recent dip in his numbers and take a broader look at what he has done for India.
Stay tuned for part II