Sachin Tendulkar was in Australia, he got a standing ovation every time he went out to bat and every time he returned to the pavilion. He told me earlier this year that while he really liked the reception he kept asking himself whether they thought he wouldn't ever return!
But back he is and with a rather pleasant problem to surmount. While many batsmen on either side are wondering if they can cement Test places or enhance their reputation, Tendulkar has to think about whether he can get a hundredth hundred. It tends to put things in perspective.
Personally while I would be delighted if he got it on Boxing Day, I am not losing sleep over it. A century is an outcome of good batting and if he bats well it will arrive at some point. It is not a brand launch or a movie release; it cannot be pre-determined and planned. It must happen and when it does we must celebrate that moment not brood or lament over why it doesn't come when we want it to.
Nature has a way of denying you what you want desperately until you don't crave it any more. And there is a reason for it. When you want something as if your life depends on it you are obsessed with the outcome whereas it is the journey that will take you there.
When the craving diminishes it means you no longer fret over the outcome and are free to focus on the present. I know this sounds a bit like a self-help book but it is true and we only need to look at our own lives to know it is. I desperately wanted a particular job when I was graduating and it was the worst interview I could have given!
This time, though, while Tendulkar will still get the standing ovation he won't have to wonder why. Even though India are due to visit Australia more frequently than before, and for a few one-dayers in between, I am not sure he will be around another three years. Neither, in spite of his amazing renaissance, will Rahul Dravid and sadly, neither will VVS Laxman. India’s past batting star, Sourav Ganguly, will be there, not with a flashing blade but with scathing words in his armoury.
Hopefully it will be a magnificent hurrah and hopefully the tension in our minds over that hundred will not deny us the pleasure of enjoying good cricket.
And why Misbah is not to blame. More »Why A Good Misbah Performance Is Bad For Pakistan