Ganeshbabu Venkat | 3:32am gmt 30 Aug 2009
There are only a few who have played the game as only they can play, Sir Don Bradman, The great Gary Sobers, King Viv Richards, Prince Brian Lara and The sheik of Tweak Shane Warne, The list will not be complete without mentioning Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar who has produced such an exalted level of batsmanship that mere mortals can only dream off. Although I'm tempted to say that Sachin Tendulkar is yards above everybody, including the great Sir Don amongst men ever to have wielded the willow or hurled the red cherry. It could be considered a blasphemy to make such a bold statement. Some might even consider this a sacrilege against Sir Don Bradman, so this piece is just a joyous celebration of one of the best players to ever grace this beautiful game.
Having made his debut against Pakistan he destroyed one of the best spinners of all time, Abdul Qadir especially in his own backyard during his debut series at the age of just 16. Tendulkar did not show case his total brilliance in that series. Nevertheless he made people take notice of a tender teenager with unruly curly hair who was destined for greater things. He first shot in to prominence with his match saving century against England at Old Trafford, From then on there was no looking back. We can never forget his destruction of the Aussie Fast bowlers at the Bouncy WACA when he was still in his teens.
Tendulkar's current statistics show that has got 12,773 Runs at an Average of 54.58 in 261 innings with 42 hundreds and 53 fifties in Tests. In ODI cricket, Tendulkar has scored a whooping 16,684 runs in 425 matches at an average of 44.37 with 43 hundreds and 91 fifties. Rest assured we won't see this record broken in our lifetime for sure.It is indeed a great credit to the little champion that he has survived the rigors of the modern game today.Cricket today is not merely a pastime but a profession. In this day and age, cricket just like other walks of life has become so fast paced and is played for about 200 days in a calendar year by a modern day cricketer thus testing not only his skill but also his fitness and they are under the scanner of the prowling media both on and off the field. Especially with Tendulkar every minor failure is magnified by the cruel media scrutiny.
The game has evolved over all these years that fielding was not even considered one of the fortes in olden days. In modern day cricket we have had sides not only pick specialist fielders like Jonty Rhodes but also expect all of its players to field like one. The advent of technology in modern-day cricket has lead to run outs and snicks being referred to the electronic eye hence modern day batsmen don't benefit from doubt as much as their predecessors.Kudos to Tendulkar who has withstood the pressure of so much of cricket of three different formats and the stresses both on the body (and the injuries one keeps picking up) and the mind. He has performed on the hardest of tracks like at the WACA, to the greenest of tracks in Durban to the dustiest of tracks in the subcontinent. He has endured and performed the toughest of conditions ranging from cold and muggy conditions of England to the hot and humid conditions of Chennai and Sharjah and the expectations keep on mounting as he scores more runs and gets more hundreds.
Tendulkar's career has been nothing but a pressure filled one. For some time in the mid and the late 1990's the Indian team was dubbed "Ten"dulkar, implying he was the team and had to carry the responsibility and expectation of ten of his teammates. The buck did not stop there, he also had to carry the hopes of a billion of his own countrymen for nearly two decades. Geniuses can be rendered stroke less wonders in a situation by the weight of pressure. Tendulkar passed the test with flying colors when match after match he had carried the entire Indian team and also the weights and expectations of the people praying, crying, and wishing for their hero to do well.
In ODI cricket ever since he opened the batting in Auckland and scored a whirlwind 82 of 49 balls, Tendulkar has taken ODI opening batting to newer heights. He did not get his maiden hundred in 78 one-day internationals.But once the flood gates were open there was no stopping him. No cricket lover can ever forget the entertainment he provided on a fine afternoon at Centurion Park in WC 2003 in probably the mother of all battles against possibly the greatest pair of fast bowlers, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.His masterpiece against the ruthless Australians at the Deserts of Dubai should rank amongst the best one-day innings ever played. He single handedly carried India to the semi-finals in the 1996 World Cup and his century against Kenya in the 1999 World Cup after he lost his father were stuff of the dreams.
In Test cricket his clinical annihilation of the greatest leg spinner Shane Warne on a dust bowl at Chennai when the Aussies were threatening to run away with the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 1998 to score an unbeaten 155 and his Magnificent 136 in the losing cause against Pakistan in 1999 were gems. Most recently his match-winning hundred also at Chennai against England compensated for the Pakistan loss which still continues to haunt him.These are all just a few gems in the crown of the little master. He has won a numerous matches for India and I can possibly go on with the list and never finish.
It was indeed a pity Wisden neither classified Sachin Tendulkar as one of the five Wisden's Cricketers of the Century nor did not list any of his innings in the top 100 list. However one cannot deny the fact that in the hearts of millions of cricket lovers all over the world, Sachin Tendulkar has a special place.There is that little something he has done throughout his career besides doing a small task of scoring a mountain of runs. He has captured the imagination of cricket lovers all around the world. He has held sway the moods of a passionate nation for over two decades. It was on his shoulders that the hopes of zillions have rested for nearly two decades. This quote from an unknown nameless genius from BBC summaries the passion that Tendulkar has kindled and why he should be celebrated as one of the best and gives him a special place in the pantheon of cricket's greatest batsmen. "When he goes out to bat people switch on their Television sets and switch off their lives".