Friday, February 26, 2010


The first South African to congratulate Sachin on his 200* at the end of the Indian innings was Wayne Parnell. Well done young man! Sachin hit almost 2 runs of every ball he faced from the young Parnell. He gave Parnell an important lesson about bowling to a class batsman in One Day Cricket. And Parnell acknowledged it.

When the South Africans were shaking Tendulkar's hand at the end of his innings, I wonder what they were saying! Was it 'Congratulations' or was it 'Thank You'! Take your pick, I'd say both!

I can write 10 more blogs using numbers - the sheer weight of statistics that the subject Sachin Tendulkar generates can satiate any mathematician. But it would all be pointless. I'll put it in another way. Deviating a wee bit from Navjot Singh Sidhu's famous remark, I'd say: Statistics are like bikinis - they hide the relevant and reveal the irrelevant.

Just like in the case of SRT, statistics will never be able to reveal the entire story. If there could have been an index to measure the biggest causes of joy and happiness to a large number of people, I am certain that such a ranking would have been topped by Sachin Tendulkar.

He made his debut at 16 in 1989. In 1995, at the age of 22, he was married to Anjali Tendulkar, a woman who knew as much about cricket as a fifteen year old knows about astrophysics. By 1998 - the year that is considered to be his peak - he was just 25, and he seemed to have been around forever. His father expired when he was 26 in 1999 - midway through the World Cup. Come 2003, he blasted the way for India's journey to the World Cup finals just before he turned 30. Then came the difficult moments. Injuries, poor form and critics everywhere in media seemed adamant to end his career. A disastrous World Cup campaign in 2007, where he was pushed to bat at No. 4, did not help matters.

And then came the revival. He regained his ability to bring a nation to a standstill. To unite a country torn out by differences. To make a billion people pray together for one common cause. To light up the moments of darkness engulfing the society. To bring a smile to a forlorn face, at the same time bringing tears of joy on a smiling one. To make people forget all their sorrows and rejoice at his success. To swell millions of hearts with pride by saying 'I care about playing for India'.

If I am woken up in the middle of the night and asked who comes the closest to perfection, I will have my answer ready. Sachin has cricketing talent in abundance, and he has always had qualities that would make him a great cricketer. But what makes him the darling of India is the  kind of person he has grown up to become.

The entire nation, nay. The entire world has watched his journey from adoloscence to fatherhood, and watched it with awe. How can a man who has lived more than half his life in the glare of media, in the scrutiny of public, in the imagination of the entire cricketing world be so humble and grounded? Is it humanly possible to be a Sachin Tendulkar? He is a perfect batsman, perfect family man, perfect brand ambassador... just a perfect human being. The eye of the storm is supposed to be calmest place amidst the frenzy. SRT impersonates that eye.

His every achievement, every feather in his extra heavy cap, every milestone crossed, every record broken... all such moments have a very very special place in the hearts of Indian cricket fans. Teammates have acknowledged his great contributions. Their joy at his achievements reaffirms his status as the most loved and respected figure in the dressing room. If his younger colleagues were to choose one person for whom they will willingly give up their position on the team, most would choose Sachin Tendulkar.

Sachin Tendulkar is not just a cricketer, he is an era. An era not only in cricket, an era in the life of a country, still young, seeking its identity in the world. Sachin Tendulkar has gone a long long way in establishing that identity. We are proud of you, Sachin!

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