Monday, October 11, 2010

A Nation Walks with Sachin

It started when I started sneaking surreptitiously out of the strict confines of a Roman Catholic institution to follow the exploits a fellow schoolboy whose blazing trail had just been sparked off in neighbouring Pakistan.
Two decades later, the trail continues to blaze along pristine paths where no mortal has treaded before. And now, as a supposedly responsible manager, I creep with a careful ALT+TAB past the forbiddingly workmanlike windows, to peep at his continuing saga of success in the pages of Cricinfo. While he sustains the insatiable appetite to score more and more, I retain the childish craving to break the rules to follow his awe-inspiring achievements. The ageless wonder has also managed to keep me mentally young.

The story of Tendulkar has for long been intertwined with the story of the young Indian growing up in the eighties and nineties. His meteoric rise in the late eighties and early nineties was representative of the spark of genius which shone on painfully rare occasions in a very prolonged while in the field of Indian sports and games, rising from the shadows of despondence that defined the arena of a developing nation. But, even as a country battled with the remnants of bureaucracy, the adamant refusal to computerisation and open economy, and chugged along with drastically dated information about the world, a teenager showed that change was around the corner. It was reflected in the audacity as he stroked the ball, throwing caution and the baggage of the past to the winds, carving the revered Qadir for consecutive sixes, hitting the knighted Hadlee inside out over the covers, taking on the might of the Aussies at the fast, furious Perth while established pillars of batting crumbled around him like pieces of brittle bread. Impossibility was just about to be redefined, limits re-laid.

With the coming of globalisation, slowly but surely, India emerged as a force to reckon with. Along with the newfound confidence of being a player in the world in her own right, Team India too underwent metamorphosis. The 27 for two specialist of the team no longer had the enormous responsibility of carrying the burden of batting on his own shoulders. He was no longer forced to ensure that India qualified for the finals at Sharjah before proceeding to loft those sixes off Kasprowicz and Fleming to try for an impossible win, bearing the brunt of the media if his single handed attempt at the impossible did not come off.

There matured a Wall to secure the innings, an artist to paint it in peerless patterns, a dada to stand up against the bullies of the world and a nuke from Najafgarh to blast opposition attacks to smithereens. Sachin evolved from the one who specialised in fighting losing battles, the engineer of ephemeral dreams, to the quintessential torchbearer who could plant the flag of the nation on the highest pinnacles. In boom time India, Sachin was that extra yard, that final frontier, that elusive peak which the Indian woke up to realise was within grasp. The country no longer followed the crumbs dropped along the way by the Hansel and Gretel of the west, it cut furrows where no other nation dared to tread. It was this boy who had grown into a man who taught the nation how to.  Taught them to live in the way he went about scoring runs.

Through his straight drive, one was taught the art of persuasion, the ball coaxed to the fence with the minimum of forceful negotiations. In his paddle sweep was the schoolboy who continued to live, finding cheeky non-existent gaps in patrolled confines to sneak out of the restricting oval into the forbidden boundary. In his upper cuts one came across real innovation, the new Indian who knew to take risks that amounted to audacious calculations. And his pull spoke of colossal confidence in self that defined the emerging superpower.

And now, 49 centuries and 14000 runs later, with almost double the figures if one considers the One Day Internationals, he still goes on and on. The dada has passed on into the shady confines of the IPL, cracks and crevices appear on the great Wall that for long sheltered the batting order and an work of inspired genius by the artist is often followed by days in recuperating recess. Passage of time has probably rounded those rough edges of excitement that used to accompany every foray into the middle. The fractional fraying of the hand eye coordination has probably curbed the audacity of the stroke-play, now passed on to the more than capable hands of Virender Sehwag. But, for each small diminution of the treasure-store of ability, there has been replenishing pearls and diamonds from the many splendored vaults of experience. Time's erosion has been replaced and secured with timeless foundation. Having shown the way to take on the world, he is now the wise general who knows the virtue of consolidation, of accumulation. He has never looked so invulnerable, so impregnable.

He is now the Bhishma Pitamaha of Indian cricket, who cannot retire until the last sling and arrow of fortune in the war for the world cup is shot. The one who has perfected his batting to resemble the benchmark of the Don in the last year, and yet has that last frontier to conquer.

While Sachin Tendulkar has without doubt been the crowning achievement of the sport of cricket and the rejuvenated nation of India, what follows in the wake of his gargantuan glory brings to light the ancient Upanishadic teaching – everything positive comes with its own inbuilt negative.
There are hordes of so called followers of cricket in our very nation who lift their hind quarters to pee their quaint peeves on the monumental achievements of the man. These consist of the self proclaimed defendants of the society who try to hide their irrational envy behind righteous indignation at a man making money for his phenomenal contributions, and the zonal yellow journalists, with a flair for statistical ignorance, who try to cut down each and every exploit of the remarkable cricketer with reasons and ratios that redefine ridiculous. A most pathological bunch of losers if there ever was any. If the master symbolises the height of Indian achievements in the past couple of decades, these callous critics probably underline all that is wrong with the nation, bringing alive the celebrated history of colonial divide and rule, the propensity to wallow in the muck of one's own making, of being satisfied with glorified mediocrity.

However, the collective contamination of these social stinkers can do little to tarnish the halo that has been the result of two decades of resplendent brilliance. 15000 runs, a 100 hundreds, a World Cup triumph? Whatever is the final goal, I await it with an amalgam of hope and trepidation. While nothing would be dearer to me than this giant of a little man to conquer whatever peak he sets sights on, summits the less of ability can hardly make out with the naked eye, a part of me dreads the day when he will make for the pavilion the last time. I have not known adult life without Sachin Tendulkar at the crease. Without the little man walking out at two drop for India, a whole generation of Indians will start walking alone.

35 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Awesome article. Right up there with point to cover laxman article. Well done mate

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  3. last lines bought a fear in me....really can not imagine.....

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  4. I cant imagine Indain team without sachin. Awesome last few words ....

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  5. Super Duper article..a fitting tribute to the finest of the fine cricketers.

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  6. I must say, I cried in buckets after going through this article. The man is like a parent who gives that protection to our morale psyche. The day he is gone, we all will be orphans.

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  7. when you read the last two lines and you realise the reality behind it, it feels like crying a few times just to let the emotions go away. I can not even associate with any other cricket in India team that I would follow cricket hereafter

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  8. Had tears in my eyes mate...when you wrote about those buggers trying to bring the man to their own level...SUPERBLY WRITTEN - may be the best poem I have read about the only man I am in awe of and rever with full heart and mind - I have been lucky to be born and growing up (had heard stories when he was touring Pakistan from one Ashok Saheba who I think is now an umpire - at the HL Commerce College Ground in Ahmedabad) ... then, saw the boy and then the man of steel - have only had one ambition - I keep a small photograph of Mahatma Gandhi (I love him but let his critics, like that of Sachin, know as I would ask them a simple question - if someone throws you out of a train's first class in a totally racist South Africa in the middle of the night, what would you have done?) - I want a photograph of life size of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar inspiring me for the rest of my life The man is a master. I thank you for such a wonderful article.

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  9. I am 30 now getting close to 31... and every time Sachin bats the young kid in me is let free.. I dread the day he retires.. for that kid would be lost forever..

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  10. The best article I have read about THE BEST batsmen in the game of cricket. Hes been a true inspiration. The last lines....I better forget about them. The very thought of his retirement is frightening. Also very nice comments.
    Especially by Guru-"I am 30 now getting close to 31... and every time Sachin bats the young kid in me is let free.. I dread the day he retires.. for that kid would be lost forever.." AWESOME

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  11. I would be always proud to say I was in the era of sachin... but cant imagine him not coming to the field... cant imagine him not playing.. that day is night mare which I would never want to come... I dont want to see that day when Sun rose without sachin on the field... Hope he plays forever......

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  12. written straight from the heart... a beautiful article... perhaps ... years later when we are all old men of seventy, we will look back upon these glorious days of Tendulkar and sigh.... "those were the days"....

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  13. These consist of the self proclaimed defendants of the society who try to hide their irrational envy behind righteous indignation at a man making money for his phenomenal contributions, and the zonal yellow journalists, with a flair for statistical ignorance, who try to cut down each and every exploit of the remarkable cricketer with reasons and ratios that redefine ridiculous. A most pathological bunch of losers if there ever was any. If the master symbolises the height of Indian achievements in the past couple of decades, these callous critics probably underline all that is wrong with the nation, bringing alive the celebrated history of colonial divide and rule, the propensity to wallow in the muck of one's own making, of being satisfied with glorified mediocrity.

    Loved this mate...It takes more than one sachin for Indians to see the light and walk out of self-annihilation for sure.

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  15. Great article .. loved every single bit of it.

    Just curiously, 'The 27 for two specialist' had a small relief in his last innings. He walked in at 38 for two.

    And made Australia wait just Nine hours and seven minutes :)

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  16. Geniuses are born to be genius..they r gaudy like MJ..and they are like Sir Don Bradman..but sometimes we fell short of words for Geniuses like Sachin...no wonder if i call him as Sir Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar...he is a perfectionist time has ever seen and will never see...i want to close my eyes and dumb my ears hearing Sachin .hit a sixer yaar..

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  17. Fantastic..cannot imagine cricket without Sachin..the last lines got my heart beating faster ..jus cannot even read tht..

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  18. The article is no doubt one of the best article on The GOD of cricket, if not the best. Reading the comments by the fellow-worshippers, I could not help but cry.

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  19. best tribute to Sachin was from haydon, He said, I have seen GOD, he plays for India at No 4 position in test cricket. Can't imagine a day when cricket is played without sachin!!! It would be like walking on a bank of a dry river or boating on the sand!!!! Thanks Sachin for making us believe in us, giving us Indians joy when at times nothing goes right!!! Thanks for distracting us from the real life problems and just give us pure joy!!!

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  20. I very nice write up..Thanks for sharing..The impending thought of missing the maestro at second down really brings tears to eyes.Remember the days when I used to switch off the tv and leave the room whenever he was out..yrs back I used to expect he will play every match and he can't be out..at least for the sake of supporters like me..in 20 yrs I have become such a follower of his game no match is complete without him..no cricket stands if he is not there in the team..I always felt life is a blessing being a part of the journey he has been through last 21 yrs. There is nothing more I can ask for from the game of cricket.

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  21. Sachin is so ingrained in our psyche...just cant imagine life devoid of him. Really dread the day when he calls it a day. He is here, there, everywhere...in our blood. I am 31 and grown up watching sachin. Remember the times when i would switchoff the TV when sachin got out. Those days are gone but he still is the soul of indian cricket. A non-indian will never understand what sachin means to us.
    Anyways, this is a brilliant piece of writing. Thank you so much for this and other articles about cricket on your blog. The one about laxman-pull was also brilliant. Thanks again...do consider writing for cricinfo.

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  22. excellently put to be precise !

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  23. awesome man !! In a nation where cricket is a religion, well..... we all know who the God is !!
    :respect

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  24. An article to keep for your grand children. Beauty.

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  25. dude, seriously. this is one of the best articles that i have read about Sachin. and trust me that I have read a number of them. It ranks high up there in my TOP 3 of all time.. such a delight to read!

    Thanks a lot :)

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  26. Excellent article. Why this is not appearing in cricinfo?

    Your words about the cynics really hit the HEAD hard and ofcourse all the sachin fans feel the same way as you do in your last paragraph...

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  27. If there ever was a Nobel Prize for sport, the first and probably the finest Laureate from India would be Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
    Rakshas to Brahma in 2010 BC: Give me eternal life, superpowers and glory!!
    Rakshas to Brahma in 2010 AD: Let Sachin Tendulkar score the winning runs in the World Cup Final!!
    May he conquer all the peaks he has aimed for and I can retire from following cricket in peace. Cannot watch cricket without Sachin, it is just not worth it!!

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  28. I am happy to see a person have exactly the same feelings as I had for Sachin!

    Well written, and well emoted.

    Aparajita

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  29. A piece of real artistry..... for an artist who has drawn every possible impression that could have been thought of in the realms of cricket.....

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  30. Only when you think what else new you can write on this person, The God of cricket, only to realize that there are people like you who have immense respect for him and comes up with something brilliant like this one. Dude, there is no word for what you have written here...
    You have summed it up well in last sentence. India will walk alone the day "The Got" will hang his shoes...
    If i god give me one thing to ask for, I would blindly ask him to give strength to rest of our team to support Sachin in this world cup!!!!!!!!!
    Salute to you and The God...
    Umesh

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  31. Sachin, followed by Dravid, Lax and Dada, and of course the irrepressible Sehwag, have defined batting for India in the past few years. And Sachin has had a greater burden to carry on his shoulders than the rest for a longer period of time. I can only feel for Indian Cricket after these stalwarts decide to ride out into the sunset after extremely distinguished careers. And Yes, the thought of Sachin retiring will bring tears to our cynical eyes and it will leave a big void in our hearts

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  32. Sensationally well written, like most of your other posts! Like everyone else above, just imagining Sachin's final international innings brought a lump to my throat. Sehwag, Laxman, Dravid, Dada all hold place of pride in the Indian cricket fan's hearts, but Sachin is something slightly more...
    Here's some stuff I wrote on the little big man

    http://virtual-inksanity.blogspot.com/2010/02/god.html [Post his 200*]

    http://virtual-inksanity.blogspot.com/2007/11/sachin-ala-re.html

    And one for the Wall too

    http://virtual-inksanity.blogspot.com/2009/04/unthinkable.html

    and for the extra volatile Indian fan too
    http://virtual-inksanity.blogspot.com/2010/05/get-life.html

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  33. Awesome Article !!! Too good and would recommend worth a Read !!!

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