Much like the arrow that lodged itself in Achilles’ heel, every Indian wants to know which Trojan has infected Sachin Tendulkar’s batting program. So much so, that if cricket fans had the choice, they would love to file an RTI application to find out why the 39-year old is getting bowled so often. But the question is why? Didn’t the team just win a series 2-0? Why are we fretting over a batsman’s dismissal, than celebrating the team’s success?
The ‘three jeers’ question is prompted by Tendulkar’s inability in the last fortnight to protect the three stumps that he is known to guard fiercely. For a batsman, watching his bails fly is worse than getting hit on the box. It is possibly the worst way to get out to a bowler, for it inflicts a loss of pride that can take even the best some time to recover. Ask a goalkeeper how it feels to watch the ball go past him into the net, but he at least gets the luxury of staying on, on the field.
Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell and Tim Southee are the Kiwis who have managed to send the little champion’s stumps flying, forcing a country to count its sheep as it tries to sleep over the latest setback inflicted on its supposedly favourite batsman. He is getting old, yes he is, he must retire, that’s up to him — this is pretty much the living room conversation everywhere. All over again. Living with Sachin Tendulkar’s failures can be more difficult for the Indian fan, if not for the batsman himself. Did India defeat New Zealand 2-0 or lose it 0-3?
Three good deliveries, and the brickbats are out with brand new grips, with everyone scampering for a cricket coaching manual, turning its pages to figure out why the man is going across/back when he should be going forward. Writing a critique of a batsman’s technique is easy, but it will be a lot better and helpful if you are holding his bat, and not yours. Finding out the weight of Sachin Tendulkar’s bat may be a lot easier than measuring the weight of expectations on his shoulders. But reminding fans, however gently, to keep this in mind, would be asking for a piece of theirs. Received with thanks!
While the knives are out, it might be better to hold on to the fork before starting out on the last supper. For in the past, the batting ace was blamed when he took India close enough for a win, only to be beaten by the opposition at the turn, while the others escaped flak. Trying to defend Sachin Tendulkar’s scores of 17, 27 and 19 against New Zealand is not what is being attempted here. All we are saying is that by working on that 21-gun salute for the man’s career, you might just be jumping the gun. The swan decides when to sing, so don’t organize a concert when it has a bad throat.
It’s an old story with a new script for anybody who works in the limelight. Everybody likes a hero when he is winning; they praise him all the way to heaven, but pin him on the mat and give him the camel clutch when he fails. The game belongs to the fans, but a win belongs to a team, and by focussing on the failure of one man, they are guilty of diluting the success of the other ten.
Maybe Achilles left saying, “Are you just going to watch? I wouldn’t mind a hand.” Probably too many came forward to help. That isn’t always a good solution.