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Celebrating Sachin Tendulkar's 20 glorious years [Update: 28th year]

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Eighteen months down the line' date=' I found myself sharing the same dressing room with the boywho was to become the Little Master. [b']Always in the company of Sanjay Manjrekar, it appeared as if Manjrekar had been given the duty of grooming this prodigy and making him at home. And lookat what moron Manjrekar has been saying since he retired from the game.
Jealousy, complexes- the man is buried under them. Manjrekar at one time was one of India's brightest hopes and then came Thendulkar and Manjrakar got overshadowed so much that he was not even visible anymore.

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Eighteen months down the line' date=' I found myself sharing the same dressing room with the boywho was to become the Little Master. [b']Always in the company of Sanjay Manjrekar, it appeared as if Manjrekar had been given the duty of grooming this prodigy and making him at home. And lookat what moron Manjrekar has been saying since he retired from the game.
Well it is called opinion mate and he was not the only one. Ofcourse I forgot, in India you can't challenge the God.

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There is a difference between criticism and hate.
Oh yeah!! So give me a conclusive that it was hate, since this same man was criticized in the initial part of his commentary stint for talking too much about Tendulkar in pleasant terms. It just fanboys struggling to deal with some criticism that is bound to come in any man's career. Bradman, Sobers, Schumacher, Woods, Jordan are not averse to it, so why Tendulkar. It was an opinion shared by Barry Richards and Ian Chappell at the time. It is a land of prima donna worship, as simple as that.

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TBH I started appreciating Srinath near the end of his career.. I remember he used outbowl Z.Khan, Nehra on most of occasions in this decade...Though as someone mentioned above, he didn't do significantly great in 90s other than those marvellous spells in South Africa

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Oh yeah!! So give me a conclusive that it was hate' date=' since this same man was criticized in the initial part of his commentary stint for talking too much about Tendulkar in pleasant terms. It just fanboys struggling to deal with some criticism that is bound to come in any man's career. Bradman, Sobers, Schumacher, Woods, Jordan are not averse to it, so why Tendulkar. It was an opinion shared by Barry Richards and Ian Chappell at the time. It is a land of prima donna worship, as simple as that.[/quote'] When the criticism transends the boundaries of the game, i.e, cricket and enters into the realm of questioning a player's intention and calls him greedy and selfish, it ceases being criticism and turns into a personal attack. Sanjay went to the extent of accusing Sachin of faking injuries. Is that criticism or hate? I dont think anyone had any issues with people questioning Sachin's form. But some people started questioning his loyalty to the country and the motive for which he plays. I dont think that has happened to the players you named. BTW you certainly seem to have a bee in your bonnet about Sachin and dont miss an opportunity to jump in and showcase it, sometimes, like in this instance, without understanding the context

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Also the facts remain, that those who supported Sachin when he was down on form and suffering from injuries turned out to be 100% right and the ones who wanted him dropped were proven to be wrong. So if the critics get a bit of stick now, they deserve every bit of it for making such an error of judgement. If it was up to critics like Manjerekar, we wouldnt have had the highest run chase in 4th innings in a test in India or the first 200 in an ODI

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When the criticism transends the boundaries of the game, i.e, cricket and enters into the realm of questioning a player's intention and calls him greedy and selfish, it ceases being criticism and turns into a personal attack. Sanjay went to the extent of accusing Sachin of faking injuries. Is that criticism or hate? I dont think anyone had any issues with people questioning Sachin's form. But some people started questioning his loyalty to the country and the motive for which he plays. I dont think that has happened to the players you named. BTW you certainly seem to have a bee in your bonnet about Sachin and dont miss an opportunity to jump in and showcase it, sometimes, like in this instance, without understanding the context
Exactly. Criticism of Tendulkar was not limited to cricket but got personal. Idiot Chappell went to the extent to suggest that he was hanging around for the money and endorsements. Absolutely retarded and gutter level thinking.

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Oh the memories. There were so many experts here who agreed with Mr. Moin Khan and his acumen on cricket (and character I'd guess). Sadly all of them went quiet :((

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Sachin Tendulkar: The “Little Master†Sachin Tendulkar: The “Little Master†There have been quite a few batsmen who can be categorized as the one of the best batsman to have played the gentleman’s game. The debate will go on and on especially when the world has witnessed and cherished the likes of Don Bradman, Gary Sobers, Sunil Gavaskar, Allan Border, Javed Miandad, Viv Richards, Jack Hobbs, Steve Waugh and Inzamam-ul-Haq. Focusing on the recent crop of players, who stand out for their majestic batting displays are Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, Mohammed Yousuf, and Rahul Dravid. When you think about the greatest batsman in history of cricket instantly, the name of Sir Don Bradman immediately comes to mind for his phenomenal average of 99.94 which remains miles ahead of others. He needed only 4 runs in his last inning to achieve the feat of having an average of exactly 100 but emotions got the better of him and he got out on a duck, which kept him at bay from reaching the milestone. Realistically it looks to stand forever as the best average by a batsman in Test cricket. With all respect to the Aussie little master there is another man who perhaps can be touted as the best batsman of all time Sachin Tendulkar, who has overhauled almost all the batting records. Regarded as the cricketing God in India, Sachin holds the record of scoring most centuries, 48 in Test and 46 in One-day Internationals. He also became the first batsman to score 50 international centuries. Not only this, he now heads the list of cricketers who have played the most Test matches in history surpassing Steve Waugh’s haul of 168 matches when he played his 169th Test match against Sri Lanka. Even legendary Shane Warne went on to say that the batting maestro from India is the greatest batsman he has ever seen. Not only this when Sir Don Bradman was alive he listed his all time eleven and from the present generation only Sachin’s name was present which is some achievement when you look at players who have been there with amazing performances. The batting phenomenon from India is the first player to score 10,000 ODI runs and 12,000 Test runs. He has also amassed over 30,000 runs combining all form of International cricket which in itself is an astounding record. He became the only second batsman to score 10 centuries against the mighty Australia, a mountainous feat which was first achieved by Sir Jack Hobbs. When he equalled the record of Bradman’s 29 Test centuries the formula one team Ferrari and its world champion presented him a Ferrari Modena. For his outstanding contribution to the game of cricket, Tendulkar was nominated as the second best all time Test and One day batsman by Wisden only to be behind Bradman and Viv Richards respectively. But now comparatively Sachin seems to be better than the two greats particularly, when there are bowlers that are much harder to play than those of previous time. He has faced and succeeded against the likes of Wasim and Waqar, Walsh and Ambrose, the greatest spinners in history Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Saqlain Muhshtaq and Daniel Vettori, Shoaib Akhtar, and various other speed sensations which include Brett Lee, Dale Steyn, Shaun Tait and Shane Bond. Sachin definitely is the greatest batsman of all time, no matter what people say his performances and statistics can never be neglected and his greatness can never be undermined by the cricketing experts and fans. http://blogs.bettor.com/Sachin-Tendulkar-The-Little-Master-a29763 by Michelle Beckett

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The heart goes on - by Steve Waugh

I have often been asked whether I knew Sachin Tendulkar was destined for his remarkable run in world cricket-a run that is punctuated with records, some coming in the 22nd year of his international cricket-when I first saw him play. It is always hard to spot exceptional talent in a youngster, but when I first saw Sachin, I knew I was watching a special player. He was batting at the WACA, Perth, on a pitch that in those days was a fast bowler's paradise. Australians found it tough going at Perth and here was an Indian teenager, on his first tour to Australia, batting with great composure and exceptional ease to score one of his finest centuries. The signs of a special talent were clear for the world to see and I knew Sachin would make a mark on cricket. Today,twodecades later, there is still plenty of fuel left in Tendulkar and it is fascinating to see his hunger for success and the discipline to remain fit and focused at this level. From the point of view of a contemporary, I find it amazing that he has remained the key wicket that the opposition prizes for more than two decades. It's one thing to be around for that but quite another thing to remain the linchpin of the team right through that period. It was in the early 1990s that the Indian fans really started to warm to Sachin's talent and persona. The decade saw Sachin develop from a promising youngster into one who values his talent and is willing to work hard to make the most of it. It's not always that exceptional talent translates into a great career, but Sachin had the temperament and the discipline to exploit that ability. Right through the 1990s and even thereafter, Sachin has always kept some of his most brilliant knocks for Australia, and very often it was really a pressure cooker situation because you had an unstoppable cricketer as well as thousands of screaming fans to deal with. It was a cauldron, and you could see that Sachin would feed off the fans and the cheering and expectations would actually get him going. As a captain you knew you had to get him out early and if you did not manage that, you were in for a hard time. There were a few plans we had for him, the one that comes in occasionally trapped him in front of the wicket and we often found him impatient if he were kept away from the strike for long. These tactics worked at times, but very often they did not. I remember seeing him scoring at century that is known as the 'sandstorm knock' in Sharjah. Australia won the game, but if in the change room after the match, you would have thought we were the losing side. I voiced my concern about Sachin's form and Allan Border consoled us saying that it would be impossible for him to bat that well in the finals and that Sachin in fact was due for a failure. Sachin famously scored another century, this time on his 25th birthday to seal the trophy for India. At that point common opinion was that Sachin could not get much better than this. It's hard to say what motivates a player, and when a career spans two decades, the targets must have shifted often and the desire to raise the bar must manifest itself in various ways. Who would have predicted that Sachin would breach the 200 mark in ODIs in his 22nd year? Today he has gone past my 169 Tests and I think he looks good to cross 200 as far as Tests go as well. Perhaps the 200-Test mark is the motivation that is taking Sachin through the training sessions, the travel and the hard yards that might make a player feel jaded after two demanding decades. Today, we are looking at at least two more years of Sachin Tendulkar. However, it was not always this way. He had a bit of a dip a few years ago, but he emerged from that 12-month slump with greater determination to prove that there some fire in the belly. In fact, my last Test was a significant one for Sachin as well. It was the Sydney Test from when we saw a new, cautious, more accumulative batsman take over from his earlier, free-flowing avatar. He had been struggling through that series, and this when the rest of the Indians were actually scoring a lot of runs. Sachin reassessed his game and cut off his off-drive which forced the bowlers to bowl to him while he was content to play the waiting game. It seemed that he had decided that this was the role he wanted to play and this phase continued for many seasons. Again at the SCG in 2008 he played delightfully in the Test that ended in controversy. Few who saw him play would forget his effortless strokeplay, and the manner in which he put the bowlers away in the first innings. Today, Sachin plays smart cricket, but he also seems to be enjoying himself. The body does give him reminders of the wear and tear it has been through, but he has gained in experience and knows his game well enough to adapt himself. He also seems content to preserve himself and does take a break every now and then. Significantly, he has opted out of the Twenty20 format even though he looks very good when he turns out for Mumbai. There is a lot to remember Sachin by whenever he decides to call it a day. There are records that will stand the test of time and there will be some that are bound to be broken. For instance, who is to bet that Virender Sehwag will not score a triple century in onedayers! The game is shifting and reshaping itself all the time, and scores are going to get increasingly stratospheric. However, the one record that he might have for himself is the one for Test appearances. I remember thinking 168 Tests would be a hard number to get past, but it has happened in six years. However, with the number of formats that have now come into the equation, it will be hard for a player to sustain himself for the number of years it takes to play 200 Tests. I am assuming that that is the motivation that will keep the little master hungry for a couple of years more. For all you know it's the 100 centuries in Tests and one-dayers that is keeping Sachin hungry. His centuries are coming at a regular rate once again after a dip in 2005-2006. He is pulling away from the competition, and at 48 and still counting, he might have the record for himself for quite some time. Every player has his own reasons for calling it a day. Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath wanted to sign off with an Ashes series. When I decided to retire, it seemed right to call it a day at Sydney against the Indians. I had made my debut against India in 1985 and it seemed like a cycle would be completed if I were to retire after playing against India. When I hung up my boots, I knew that the goals that would keep me hungry were no longer there. It's clear that Sachin too has earned the right to decide his future on his terms. We are talking about a mature, fit and sensible cricketer who knows he has the desire to play on coupled with the ability to do well. I see the legend growing for at least two more years.
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/Story/111357/the-heart-goes-on.html

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Good article from S. Waugh

I find it amazing that he has remained the key wicket that the opposition prizes for more than two decades. It's one thing to be around for that but quite another thing to remain the linchpin of the team right through that period.

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The “symbolical†cricketer by Mike Marqusee

This tribute to Tendulkar has just been published in SACHIN : Genius Unplugged, edited by Suresh Menon, available at Flipkart . “Cricket is first and foremost a dramatic spectacle,” wrote CLR James in Beyond a Boundary. “It is so organised that at all times it is compelled to reproduce the central action which characterises all good drama from the Greeks to our own: two individuals are pitted against each other in a conflict that is strictly personal but no less strictly representative of a social group.” Where “the dramatist, the novelist, the choreographer, must strive to make his individual character symbolical of a larger whole,” in cricket that “symbolical” quality is inherent. “The batsman facing the ball does not merely represent his side. For that moment, to all intents and purposes, he is his side. This fundamental relation of the One and the Many, Individual and Social, Individual and Universal, leader and followers, representative and ranks, the part and the whole, is structurally imposed on the players of cricket.” In the case of Sachin Tendulkar, that representative, “symbolical” function has been exponentially compounded. I like to imagine him roaring around a late night Mumbai in one of his flashy cars, revelling in the surrounding darkness, the emptiness, the anonymity. Free of the burdens of representation. Able to be, for a moment, not the One who must bat for the Many but merely one among many. I was travelling in India in the autumn of 1989 and followed the mounting excitement over the 16 year old batting phenomenon. At the time, having watched a succession of talents traumatised by teenage celebrity, I worried whether any youngster could survive such attention and expectation without damage. Since then, the pressures of sports-stardom have intensified. Can we be sure that the geniuses of the past would have been able to sustain their best form in the relentless glare of today’s celebrity culture? Or that they would have succeeded in negotiating the numerous pitfalls accompanying a degree of wealth and renown previously undreamed of? It has been argued that Tendulkar is the beneficiary (and victim) of a an Indian culture of hero-worship, but this theory severs Tendulkar from his times and therefore obscures his significance. His career coincides with the rise of neo-liberal India and its competitive, aspirational ethic. For the class of Indians that in these years entered and embraced the global consumer culture, Tendulkar became a powerful signifier. If Sachin hadn’t existed, India would have had to invent him. The dominant culture of the day demanded an icon of success. This success has been seen as simultaneously “individual” and “national”. Tendulkar’s personal achievements were represented as a triumph for India as a whole, a sign of the country advancing on the world stage – like Indian corporations opening plants in Europe or the USA. Unwittingly and unwillingly, he found himself at the epicentre of a popular culture shaped by the intertwined growth of a consumerist middle class and an assertive, sometimes aggressive form of national identity. National aspirations and national frustrations were poured into his every performance, and this during a period in which the nation passed through some very dark moments (Kashmir since 1989, Ayodhya in 1992, Mumbai in 1993, Gujarat in 2002, Mumbai in 2009). How he’s not been crushed by it all remains at least in part a mystery. Tendulkar has been a modern man playing in a modern style in the modern marketplace – and that’s what makes him of supreme importance to Indians. He’s a home-grown genius excelling in a transcontinental spectacle, a high-value icon of personal success in a globalised economy, a world-beater bred in the heart of Mumbai’s status-hungry middle class. Yet he’s survived largely untainted by the turmoil, factionalism, jealousy and corruption surging around him. Tendulkar must be one of the least criticised of all modern super-stars. No other figure of remotely comparable celebrity has been treated so kindly by the media and the fans. Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, not to mention Azharuddin and Ganguly, his predecessor and successor as Indian captain, all had much rougher rides. As did Warne, Lara and Muralitharan, not to mention Amitabh Bachhan, Shah Rukh Khan, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan or David Beckham. Tendulkar has never been subject to the kind of detraction, justified or not, which all these others have suffered. Why should that be? For a start, Tendulkar has been careful to make no enemies and give no offence. He has accepted the friendship of every political party and refused none. Despite his exalted status, he knows his place as a sports star and has been careful not to overstep its bounds. Playing cricket has always seemed his exclusive priority. His occasional poor spells may have raised concerns but no one suggested he was distracted, arrogant or indifferent. The modest demeanour is said to be unaffected, but it has also served well as a personal survival strategy. It enables him to avoid controversy and thereby apply himself exclusively to the one battle he really cares about: against the opposing bowlers. What’s more, India (and the larger cricket world) wants and needs Tendulkar to be pure, innocent, transcendent. Somehow he has managed to absorb that mass projection and reflect it back; he stands solidly on his pedestal. Sachin started young but unlike many others he’s managed to stay young. It’s clear he takes an unadulterated joy in playing cricket, in solving the endless problems it poses, ball after ball. Cricket has always been his primary means of self-expression, so absorbing, so efficient that he hasn’t needed to assert himself in other ways. Cricket commentary is filled with psychological platitudes: we mutter about “competitiveness”, “determination”, “confidence” and counter-pose them to anxiety, self-doubt or timidity. We take these polarised categories for granted, assuming that one leads to success and the other to failure, though experience teaches us otherwise. It is always more complicated than that. Among cricketers, confidence and doubt are layered one upon another. When Tendulkar bats, there is confidence aplenty, but also introspection and circumspection. The confidence is without swagger. Tendulkar dominates but, unlike Viv Richards, rarely domineers. His low centre of physical gravity is matched by a low centre of psychological gravity, making him much harder to topple. As the inheritor of the venerable Mumbai tradition of cultivated batsmanship, Tendulkar has seamlessly blended power and grace, efficiency and elegance, conscientious craftsmanship and quicksilver improvisation. Calculation and spontaneity are impossible to distinguish. That’s what makes his style “classical”: technique is grafted to imagination. A great run-maker in both the Test and one-day formats, he stands at the intersection of the old and the new; through him we have seen one enrich the other. He paved the way for the contemporary masters of one day cricket not by abandoning his Test technique but by amplifying and accelerating it, opening the field to a wider variety of strokes. His average in the course of five World Cups stands at 57.93 – with a strike rate higher even than Viv Richards’. But among Tendulkar’s numerous statistical achievements, it’s his record number of Test hundreds, one in every five and a half Test innings, that is the most impressive and may prove the most durable. Hundreds shape matches; they set up victories or stave off defeats. More than that, the compilation of a Test hundred is an art in itself, unique and demanding – because of the time it takes and because it requires mastering different bowlers with different styles, as well as changing field placings, weather and ball conditions, not to mention shifting partners at the other end. It demands an eye ever alert to the ball that’s not quite good enough, and equally to the one that’s too good. A test century is a feat of stamina and concentration, but also of vision: comprehending in single moments (again and again) the many possibilities in time and space embodied in the approaching ball. These qualities Tendulkar has possessed in abundance. But for reasons that remain hard to fathom, his tenure as captain was deeply disappointing. He seemed to have all the qualifications: an exceptional cricket brain, an even temperament, the respect of his fellow players. What’s more he led a strong side featuring the likes of Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble and Srinath. Yet in his 25 Tests in charge, he won only 16% and lost 36%, compared to Azharuddin’s record of just under 30% won and 30% lost and Ganguly’s of 43% won and 26% lost. His record as an ODI captain was even worse: winning only 35% of his matches in charge, compared to Azhar’s 54.1% and Ganguly’s 53.9%. Clearly being a “symbolical” representative is not the same as being an effective leader. What was missing? His own batting suffered, but only marginally (his average as Test captain was over 50). The real problem was an inability to bring the team to the boil at the right time, to convert temporary advantages into winning positions. Perhaps the very qualities that enabled him to survive in the spotlight muted and subdued him as a captain. Great captains need personalities with an edge (not necessarily aggressive but at least authoritative); they impose an emotional tone on the team, which helps to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts. Because Tendulkar was without edge, he seemed to lack a lever with which to pry open his team’s talents. One of the foibles of his captaincy was that he under-bowled himself, an error corrected by his successor, for whom he bowled more overs and took more wickets at a much lower strike rate (in both forms of the game). Unlike his batting, his bowling owed little to natural ability and nearly everything to cunning. That mix of off-breaks, leg-breaks and donkey drops appeared innocuous, but its mildness could mislead skilled batsmen into horrendous errors. It was always fun to watch. Does Tendulkar have a dark side? I find it hard to believe that a life of so much creative energy, driven intensity, constant combat (ball after ball) could exist without its demons. Maybe they emerge from hiding during those pre-dawn drives along the Indian Ocean? For non-Indians like myself, the joy of Tendulkar comes unadulterated. The awe he inspires belongs to no culture, carries no national overtones, and is both intimately personal and transparently universal. One of the major pleasures of watching competitors like Tendulkar is the sensation of awe they evoke. There is so much he does with ease that the rest of us can never hope to accomplish, even with prolonged and scientific training. The great thing here is that this awe does not leave us feeling belittled or inadequate. On the contrary, the wonder and marvel at what one of our fellow human beings can do is expansive, life-enhancing: the intricate coordination of mind and matter, the welding together of eyes, feet and hands in the heat of the moment, all driven by a single competitive purpose, yet somehow making a thing of beauty beyond that single purpose. At their best, great sporting geniuses challenge and extend our notion of what is humanly possible. Normally when this happens outside the sporting realm, it is experienced as disturbing or threatening, but somehow, within cricket’s redemptively trivial domain, it is irresistibly seductive. So thank you, Sachin Tendulkar, for giving me as many of those invigorating awe-filled moments as any sporting genius of my time.
wonderful read!

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Just checked their site..that is a special issue dated Feb 1. Not sure it will be available in the stands now :( hloybaba as always is late to inform :angry_smile:

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by Greg Baum

The saint His purity of technique and image make him an icon with more than a touch of the divine Greg Baum November 1, 2003 The two keenest appreciations of Sachin Tendulkar were made from vantage points that could not have been more opposite to each other, and together serve as an incontrovertible cross-reference to his greatness. The first was Sir Donald Bradman's famous remark to his wife during the1996 World Cup that Tendulkar put him in mind of how he himself batted. The second is the widespread understanding in the cricket community that match-fixers will not successfully get on with their crooked business until Tendulkar is out, and an anecdotal account of how Tendulkar once unwittingly ruined a fix by batting too blissfully well. It must be understood that neither reflection would have been made lightly. Sir Donald was not given to hyperbole or glibness, but rather was precise in everything he did and said. Nor would the fixers have bothered with throwaway lines. Together, these tributes convey immutable impressions of Tendulkar that accord with less quantifiable, more aesthetic understandings of the glory of his batsmanship, Here is a man capable of changing the course of any game. Here is a man incorruptible in the face of the venal temptations that so many of his peers could not resist. Outside the laws or outside the off stump, he could not be lured. Here is a man not susceptible to human failing in any endeavour, a man not so much invincible as invulnerable. Here is a man whose name is synonymous with purity, of technique, philosophy and image. If Ian Botham can be seen as the Errol Flynn of cricket, or Viv Richards as the Martin Luther King, or Shane Warne as the Marilyn Monroe, or Muttiah Muralitharan as the hobbit, Tendulkar is surely the game's secular saint. Right from the beginning, he appeared to be touched by divinity. He came among us as a boy-god, unannounced. He was 16 and was hit on the head in his first appearance, but neither flinched nor retreated a step. Nothing thenceforth could harm him, temporal or otherwise. He was short and stocky - like all the best - and mop-topped and guileless to behold. He has scarcely changed since. Tendulkar was born with extravagant natural talent, but he was also driven and indefatigable. When a boy, he would bat from dawn to dusk, and even a little beyond. As with all the greats, he came not from another dimension, nor the mystical east, but from the nets. By such dedication, he came to understand intimately his own gift, and at length to lavish it upon others. His movements at the crease are small but exact. He said once that he did not believe in footwork for its conventional purpose, because the tempo of Test cricket did not permit a batsman the textbook indulgence of getting to the pitch of the ball. Rather, he thought of footwork as a means of balancing himself up at the crease so that each shot was hit just as he meant it. He scores predominantly through the off side, an unusual characteristic for such a heavy run-maker, but of course he can play every shot. Tendulkar's method promotes an air of calm, reassurance and poise at the crease. Brian Lara's batting is characterised by explosion and violence, and Steve Waugh's by grim resolve, but Tendulkar's ways are timeless. His battles with Shane Warne, genius versus genius, have been for the ages. It is said that the common element to concepts of beauty among all peoples is symmetry, a balance between all the parts. So it is with Tendulkar's batting. How easily he carries the hopes and takes responsibility for the well being of untold millions on that impossible subcontinent; in this, he is also divine. All eyes are upon him, day and night, but no scandal has attached itself, not in his private life nor in his cricket endeavours. Across the land, he is the little man on the big posters and hoardings, creating a kind of reverse Big Brother effect; he is not watching them, but they are watching him. Still he stands tall. Sometimes petty criticism is made that he fails India in its hours of need, but it is not borne out by the figures, and besides, no one man could take upon his shoulders all of India's needy hours. Just 30, he has already made more than 50 international centuries. When called upon, he also bowls intelligently, if sparingly. He is sure in the field. There is even about him, as there was about many saints, something of the ingenu. He is not a natural captain for the modern era because he can lead only by example. He does not have a charismatic presence in a cricket stadium, but rather fills it in a different way, as the one certainty in a sea of doubt. Batting is the most fraught of sporting pursuits because even for the best the end is only ever one ball away. Tendulkar seems to turn that verity upon itself. As Tendulkar put Bradman in mind of himself, so he puts others in mind of Bradman. Once I was on a night train winding down from Simla to Kalka that stopped halfway for refreshments at a station lit by flaming torches. On a small television screen wreathed in cigarette smoke in the corner of the dining room Tendulkar was batting in a match in Mumbai. No one moved or spoke or looked away. The train was delayed by 20 minutes. Not until Tendulkar was out could the world resume its normal timetables and rhythms. This piece first appeared in the November 2003 issue of Wisden Asia Cricket. Greg Baum is a writer with the Melbourne Age.. This article was first published in the November 2003 issue of Wisden Asia Cricket magazine
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The Run, Before It Is Ran By Harsha Bhogle

Another World Cup arrives and inevitably the mind wanders; pausing at happy milestones, speeding past forgettable moments, allowing a surge of exhilaration to reappear as events come alive again.... Often the anticipation of an event is more fun than its actual occurrence! With Sachin Tendulkar, there are many World Cup moments—the audacity of his assault on Australia in 1996 at Mumbai, the tragedy of his return from the 1999 World Cup and the emotion behind the century that followed at Bristol, the dismissal to Dilhara Fernando that effectively sealed India’s exit in 2007 at Port of Spain.... But nothing quite tingles the senses like that innings at Centurion and nothing quite revives the senses like that shot he played. No, not the upper cut for six off Shoaib Akhtar; that was dramatic as indeed was the ball that got him later. The shot I remember came very early that evening and told a tale. Normally, Tendulkar always started at the non-striker’s end, Sourav Ganguly took first strike and it seemed both parties were quite happy with that arrangement. But now Ganguly had dropped to number three and a young Virender Sehwag was opening with Tendulkar. And taking the first ball. But as they walked out that day, the master and the pupil, something else happened. After that World Cup, Tendulkar agreed to be a guest on Harsha Online, my programme for ESPN Star Sports, and said that as they were walking out needing to get a daunting 274 to win, it flashed through his mind that the great Wasim Akram might have a trick or two up his sleeve. And so he told his young partner, “I’ll take the first ball today.†Off the third ball of Akram’s first over, Tendulkar leant back marginally and caressed the ball to the cover boundary. He plays many great strokes, the straight drive is especially beautiful, but nothing quite compares with the majesty of the backfoot cover drive. And it was a majestic shot, the kind that causes you to say “wahâ€. I don’t know how many times I have seen him play it but I still feel uplifted when I see it. When Tendulkar is done with the game, and I no longer write about it, it is one of the moments I will remember. On that programme, Tendulkar said that as soon as he played that shot, he thought it was going to be his day. It was. In the next over, Shoaib Akhtar’s first, the fourth, fifth and sixth balls went six, four, four and Tendulkar was away. He made 98 from 75 balls and not a person who watched it can dare say he doesn’t remember it. India still needed to win the game but it was down to 97 from 134 balls and Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh finished it off. Towards the tail end of that innings, Tendulkar was struggling. It might have been cramps and surely a runner was needed. But he continued to hobble, waving all requests away. I asked him about it and his reply revealed how differently extraordinary men think. Whoever ran for him, Tendulkar said, would have to be at least two yards quicker than him because he would have to assess whether or not a single was on. He would have to see how hard, or softly, the ball had been struck, where the fielder was and then think of the possibility of a single. But, said Tendulkar, since he was batting, he already knew all that and so had an advantage. His single, he said, began before he hit the ball. I must have looked quizzical, even disbelieving, because he elaborated. He knew, he said, where the fielder was and adjusted his stroke accordingly and so the single was conceived before the ball was played and executed with soft hands. And then, he added for effect, giving an example from the sport that I suspect he secretly wishes he was part of, Michael Schumacher’s race doesn’t begin with the fifth light, that is merely a signal to move. His race begins as soon as the first light comes on. It was an extraordinary story about one of the great one-day batting performances of all time. And he told it like it was a simple narrative. He wasn’t boasting, merely stating things—unaware, I suspect, that it wasn’t quite as obvious to someone else. That to me is the essence of Tendulkar, the ability to conceive an innings and execute it as daringly. Some might have the vision but not quite the ability, some others might possess the skill but not quite the genius to be able to trump situations. Tendulkar has both; vision and skill, talent and hunger. And most critically, ability and work ethic residing in the same person. We saw all that at Centurion on March 1, 2003.

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Bat Out Of Hell By Graeme Pollock :hail:

What makes Sachin Tendulkar a great player? There is the technical aspect and then there is his temperament. He has excellent body balance when he is batting, either in defence or attack. The best batsmen down the ages have all been blessed with this virtue, for the better the balance of the body, the lower the margin of error. Yet, to make runs consistently for so long, mere technique would not be enough. Tendulkar also has great levels of concentration and a tremendous appetite for runs, which sets him apart from the flock. I played till 43 so I know a bit about this hunger. It can surmount physical hardship and other such challenges. The key to retaining this hunger is in the enjoyment of cricket. For most players, the interest starts waning after 10-12 years of battle and attrition at the highest level. But players like Tendulkar, Lara, Ponting, Kallis are different. Their enjoyment of playing at the highest level seems to increase with every passing year. To be so passionate about the game, a player has to love it deeply: perhaps more than anything else in life. With apologies to his wife, Tendulkar is first married to cricket and then to her. The game and everything else surrounding it obsesses him more than anything else in life, I would imagine. There is no great secret to Tendulkar’s longevity once this is understood. He is an intelligent man and knows how to pace his life as he does his innings. Anything that would disturb or disrupt his cricket, he has shrugged off. Such phenomenal success is impossible without single-minded focus. The BCCI has played its part in giving him the breaks when he wants to prolong his career. He is no longer the dominant player he was in his younger days, but that is only to be expected. Earlier he was like Viv Richards, wanting to score at a frenetic pace. Age slows down everybody, but it can also make a player more mature and rounded. Today Tendulkar likes to build his innings, and does so magnificently. His hunger for runs, as I mentioned at the start, remains undiminished. He treasures every single, and as his running between wickets shows, not only is he a good judge of runs, but will not let any opportunity to score slip by. Nothing reflects his mindset more than the way he chases these runs. Why do I think Tendulkar will not quit in a hurry? Apart from his passion and run hunger, he is also a tremendous competitor. Ponting’s career may be at the crossroads, but with Kallis looking good for 3-4 years more, I am sure Tendulkar would like to make it more difficult for anybody else to catch up with his records. Since we are talking statistics, I would add that the comparison with Don Bradman is foolish, and an insult to both. Both are champion cricketers from different eras, the common ground being that both have been the Number One entertainers of their respective eras. In terms of records, had Bradman played 175 Tests, he would probably have scored 90-95 Test centuries. Tendulkar, along with Lara, Ponting and Kallis forms a clutch of outstanding batsmen who have graced the game at the same time. I must also add the name of Viru Sehwag, one of the most dangerous batsmen today. He was inspired by Tendulkar, and there can’t be a better compliment to the Indian maestro.

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Back To Deuce? by Suresh Menon

In 1981, John McEnroe became Wimbledon champion, ending Bjorn Borg’s five-year reign. Some seven thousand kilometres away in the Mumbai suburb of Bandra, an eight-year-old thus found his hero. Sachin Tendulkar (already an aggressive brat with a penchant for beating up older boys) decided he was going to be McEnroe. He moved around with a racquet in hand. The curly hair was already in place, and the headband screamed out his obsession. Wristbands completed the picture. The nickname followed. Tendulkar was ‘Mac’. What if the tennis-obsessed boy had stuck to his first love? What if—like our over-ambitious parents today—Tendulkar’s family had enrolled him in an ‘academy’ and pushed him into age-group tournaments? Given his ball sense, natural competitiveness and sporting intelligence, it is reasonable to assume Tendulkar might have been national champion at 16 —the same age when both Ramanathan Krishnan and Ramesh Krishnan won that title. In a couple of years, influenced by big brother Ajit, Tendulkar transferred his obsession to cricket. What if Ajit had not bothered? The question must take its place among the many ‘what ifs?’ of Indian cricket. What if a sharp-eyed uncle had not noticed a mix-up in the hospital where Sunil Gavaskar was born and had wound up next to a fisherwoman whose baby took his place? He might still have attended nets, of course, but from a fishing boat! What if Tiger Pataudi had not lost an eye at the age of 20? England all-rounder Trevor Bailey once told me that with two good eyes, Tiger would have been in the Bradman class. What if Kapil Dev had been given his proper rations when he attended a coaching camp as a youngster and not been insulted by an official who told him, “There are no fast bowlers in India.†What if, what if.... Historians (and sports fans) love playing the ‘What if...?’ game, except that the former use the more impressive term, ‘counterfactual’. What if Hitler had won the War? Would you be reading this in German? What if Tendulkar had not existed? The glib answer—“We would have had to invent himâ€â€”does not hold because that is made in hindsight. In practical terms, there would have been no gap, no uncomfortable feeling that something was missing from the Indian line-up because we would not be any wiser. Would we have fantasised about a batsman scoring a hundred international centuries and 30,000 runs over 21 years? Sporting fantasies tend to be in the abstract. In 1932, England dreamed of a bowler who could contain Don Bradman, not someone who would bowl bodyline with pace and accuracy, to a specific field-setting. Without Tendulkar, Indian batting would have continued to perform at a lower level. Before Tendulkar, India won just 43 Tests while losing 89. Since his debut, India have won more matches than they have lost (66-50), and in the 176 matches he’s played (not including the Cape Town Test), the figures are 61-46. Over a couple of generations this has meant a major psychological shift. Today, youngsters think, naturally, of victory. Not of honour in defeat, as was the mindset earlier. Tendulkar’s role in the development of those around him (Sehwag, Dravid have talked of this) was crucial. Would this have happened without Tendulkar? Doubtful. He was first among equals in a team with world-class performers—Sehwag, Laxman, Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble. And when the Indian board was flexing its financial muscle, it was important that the national team showed its cricketing muscle. Power comes from both money in the bank and the unstoppable straight drive. The batsman who made his debut soon after Tendulkar, Praveen Amre, began with a century in Durban; another, Vinod Kambli, had double centuries in successive Tests. With the benefit of hindsight we can say neither was a long-term prospect, capable of carrying the batting on his shoulders till a new generation established itself. The role of Tendulkar in the development of those who played around him—both Sehwag and Dravid have touched upon this—has been crucial, and we will never know how well they might have performed without Sachin’s example. Our standards are so much higher now. Tendulkar is without doubt the greatest batsman one-day cricket has produced, yet he has no World Cup to show for it; the Test ranking cannot be so clear-cut. Yet his impact on the team has been greater. Without Tendulkar, we would have been calling Rahul Dravid the greatest Indian batsman of all time, and referring to him as ‘God’ with the usual lack of embarrassment. Statistically there is little to choose between the two, but psychologically it is another matter. Advertisers look either for great performers or sportsmen with attitude. Which means they would have had to wait till Sreesanth, the Mallu Mac, came along to get their teeth into something. Without Tendulkar, budgets would have been smaller and television audiences likewise. On the other hand, we might have had the opportunity of watching a match on a clean screen, without creepy-crawly ads all over or those epaulets selling phones or chewing gum that shine on the batsmen’s shoulders as the bowler approaches. After 21 national championships in a row, the tennis star Tendulkar would have had a bank balance that might have managed an occasional dinner with his friend Dravid. He might even have teamed up with Michael Ferreira to complain about the undue prominence given to cricket. Wimbledon’s loss has been Eden Gardens’ gain.

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The Sweet Spot Lies In Between By Rahul Bhattacharya Some of Sachin’s best knocks were not necessarily hundreds (CC: vaibhav_delhi)

A career as long and brilliant as Tendulkar’s bestows on its observers a unique privilege: a mini-career of their own, of watching Sachin. The business of rating Sachin’s centuries becomes terribly important. There is no parameter called ‘affection’, however. And, curiously, for someone with 50 Test centuries, some of my fondest Sachin innings never got to a hundred. They were little and taut and perfectly formed, much like their maker. Four of them were at Sachin’s playground, the Wankhede, which for two decades was my own home ground as a spectator. Each of them was against an ace attack in peak form and on such bowling pitches that in each instance the match finished in three days. The first was 97 against a raging Donald, Pollock, Klusener and Kallis, not to mention Sachin’s anointed nemesis, Cronje, who had him lbw for 8 in the second innings (padding up in anticipation of away swing, if memory serves). It was the year 2000. Sachin meant everything in those days—those days between 0-3 in Australia and before the match-fixing scandal broke. Only a few days earlier, Sachin had announced that he would resign from the captaincy at the end of the series. We had exams at college. To submit our uncompleted papers in those sombre halls as soon as the mandatory half-hour was over, to race towards the ground, heaving with chants to Sachin, to watch him drive off the backfoot against immaculate and hostile fast bowling was to feel the thrill of youth and cricket and Sachin. To this day, one of my biggest regrets is that I wasn’t at the ground to see Sachin and VVS make their little castle of sand. The other three Wankhede mini-virtuosos were all versus Australia, two of them in the same match: in fact the opening and much under-rated Test of the epic 2001 series. It was a hot-headed and dramatic match, the former exemplified by Michael Slater’s meltdown on the field, and the latter by Gilchrist and Hayden’s stunning counter-attack. But Gilchrist and Hayden didn’t have to face their own bowlers. McGrath, Gillespie and Fleming, getting an Australian lift and carry off the pitch, were bowling ruthless lines. Warne, revelling in the bounce too, suggested he might turn around his record in India with four wickets in the first innings. Sachin’s twin solos against them, 76 and 65, were outstanding. The match was played in the colossal shadow of Don Bradman, who had passed away two days before, and from somewhere up there he would have approved. In the second innings, battling to keep India in the game, it took bad luck and an incredible catch—Ponting swooping in on a pull that had ricocheted off Langer at short-leg—to remove Sachin. As he trudged off the pitch, heroically alone in defeat, it felt that nothing had changed since the 1990s, and nothing ever would. But a lot did indeed by the time the Australians came around in 2004. By now India was no longer a team dependent on Sachin. Yet, to such heights had Australia risen that they wrapped up the series by the time the show moved to Mumbai for the fourth Test. Sachin had missed the first two with injury, and struggled in the third. Both India and he were playing for pride. Perhaps no surface in Indian history has been vilified as much as the sandpit that Polly Umrigar served up at the Wankhede: but it provided riveting, extreme cricket. Twenty wickets fell on the third and final day of the match, which contained a sublime partnership between Laxman and Tendulkar, each crafting a brisk and graceful 50 under pressure. I rushed to the stadium to watch India’s tumultuous defence of 107. However, to this day one of my biggest regrets is that I wasn’t at the ground to watch Sachin and vvs make their little castle out of sand. Perhaps the most heavenly batting I saw from Sachin—made more heavenly by the light—was in the prettiest of England’s Test grounds, with the prettiest of names, Trent Bridge. The weather had been capricious and British: gloomy enough on the first morning for England to pick five seamers. For five days thereafter, it veered between unplayably dark and dazzlingly bright. Sachin’s moment in the sun came late on the fourth day, at the hour when tropical people are startled to find any prospect of light. In the brilliant low sun, the grass, the men in white, the joyful crowd, they all looked beautiful, the sort of image which Martin Johnson described in the Telegraph as “a misty-eyed trip back in time to those Cardusian days at Trent Bridge, when the birds twittered, the sun shone, and it was always 330 for three at 3.30 in the afternoonâ€. Except that for India it was not 330 for three, more like 330 behind, struggling to save the Test and series. Sachin’s batting that evening was stunning. Punches through cover, whips to leg, alert to opportunity, nimble of feet, in one of those moods where he’s looking to move and stroke, not wait and deflect. He raced to his 50 at quicker than a run a ball, laden with boundaries, finishing the day on 56, and diehards will remember the massive offbreak that Michael Vaughan produced the next morning to bowl him through the gate. Ninety-two from 113. Glorious innings. An odd entry in this list is an innings he played in Georgetown in 2002. The now discontinued Bourda Cricket Ground was perhaps the world’s most atmospheric venue, fully wooden in a wooden town, drenched in rum, but alas cursed with heavy rain, terrible drainage and a too-flat pitch. A three-hour 79 on a third-day Bourda pitch against an attack of Dillon, Cuffy, Sanford and Nagamootoo is, therefore, not especially striking. But I remember that innings for its lovely poise. His deliberately minimal movements were calibrated to such perfection that, watching, the great Everton Weekes remarked that not many would appreciate its technical refinement. And this is the second reason I remember that innings. Sir Everton’s comments resulted in a terrific press-box fight between two middle-aged journalists, one of whom claimed to have arranged this exclusive interview, to find unwelcome company. Sachin, always, the story. Opposite Georgetown on the difficulty scale was notorious Hamilton in 2002-03. The pitch was an absolute lawn, the weather was rainy and Shane Bond was in his pomp. It was the kind of match where one day’s play featured all four innings. Sachin’s 32 from 48 balls on that day fell short of being match-turning but, as they say: my word! It was a much-heightened version of Centurion in 2010, not the landmark century of the second innings, but the 36 in the first dig. On the tented, juiced up pitch where Steyn and Morkel had hounded out the top order, he came out and pulled through midwicket and drove through cover at faster than a run a ball. Admittedly the majority of those boundaries were against Tsotsobe, but even so. The inarguable sign of a great player is that he can make shots when others are struggling to make contact. Finally, there is one innings I wish I could have recounted first-hand: Sialkot. Sixteen years old and looking 12, walking in at 38-4 in the last innings of the last Test with the series tied, against an attack of Imran, Waqar and Wasim, who was warned at one stage for intimidatory bowling, hit on the nose by a raw and hot Waqar, he bled on the pitch, waved off medical assistance, struck the next ball for four, compiled a half-century and added with Navjot Sidhu a 100 runs to put the game beyond Pakistan. “Main khelega,†he had said to his concerned partner, and, as ever, he did.

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Too Incomparable By Mike Coward

A salute to Sachin Tendulkar provided a welcome distraction from the unedifying sledging debate which lowered the tone of the Ashes contest as it headed for rarefied air on the eve of the Boxing Day Test match. And, inevitably, Sachin’s achievement in scoring his 50th Test match century prompted another series of comparative studies and analyses with Don Bradman, and begs the question whether this modern master may even be the greatest batsman of all time. There was a time when such a claim would have been considered intemperate—even blasphemous. But no longer. After all, Bradman admired the way Tendulkar plays, believing he could see something of himself in the little master’s technique and temperament. Tendulkar, the most self-effacing of men, is flattered, but deeply embarrassed by comparisons with Bradman. He is of the opinion that there can be no argument, as Bradman possesses the most fantastic statistic in cricket if not in all sport—a Test batting average of 99.94. Of course, this is indisputable. Certainly, Bradman had the added challenge of uncovered wickets, but the fact remains that his 52 Test matches were played on 10 grounds in eight cities in Australia and England. Conversely, Tendulkar has been exposed to the most disparate ethnic, cultural, pitch, weather, crowd and playing conditions on 59 grounds in 52 cities in 14 countries (when you recognise the sovereignty of the countries comprising the West Indian cricket community). And he is averaging 56.91 after 175 appearances over 21 years—longer than Bradman spent in the Test arena. Over the years, his most ardent admirers have often wondered how Bradman would have managed the complexities and demands of the contemporary game. Bradman himself relished the thought, but cheekily observed that his average may have suffered slightly, given that he was a much older man. While lost in such reverie, it is worth considering what Tendulkar would have achieved in the simpler and unhurried times of yore. Although it is the basic instinct of the game’s devotee to read, research, analyse and compare, on this occasion, more is to be gained simply by giving thanks. Certainly those who regret not seeing Bradman at the crease should acknowledge the honour and pleasure of seeing Tendulkar. For it truly is a privilege. As his contemporary and friend, Brian Lara, happily observed: “Sachin is a genius, I’m a mere mortal.†If the gods in the Hindu pantheon continue to look kindly upon him, Tendulkar will be in Australia this time next year on his fifth visit for Test matches. He was first here as a teenager in 1991-92, five years before the creation of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the shining prize for Indo-Australian competition. And the excitement of his return will far outweigh the embarrassment of the critics—your scribe included—who wrote emotional valedictories to him three years ago, when he was accorded standing ovations wherever he played. His third hundred at the Sydney Cricket Ground—Bradman’s favourite place, as it happens—in the first week of 2008 was his 38th. It is staggering that subsequently, he has scored 12 more—seven this calendar year, three of these since entering his 38th year in April. Aussie crowds rarely take an outsider to their hearts. They did it for Worrell, Gower, and now for Sachin. Little wonder Time magazine named him among its 100 Most Important People in the World in May and noted: “Sports heroes such as Tendulkar stand for national dignity in a way that perhaps only a post-colonial national can understand and feel grateful for.†Generally, Australian cricket crowds are unforgiving, unsettlingly patriotic and fiercely protective of their own. But occasionally, they take an outsider to their hearts and rejoice in his success. Fifty years ago, at a critical moment in the evolution of Test cricket, they made an emotional connection with Frank Worrell, the charismatic statesman and first black man to captain the West Indies outside the Caribbean. Twenty years later, they unselfconsciously embraced youthful Englishman David Gower, whose exquisite batting and thrilling fielding brought a new and wonderful dimension to the game. Those aged over 50, the age-group which remains most enamoured with the game in Australia, still talk of Worrell and Gower with great affection. Such memories can sustain. While it may never be definitively known what Bradman and Tendulkar spoke about at their only meeting at Adelaide in 1998, one fancies that the strain of life in the public eye and the curse of publicity may have taken precedence over matters of technique. Bradman’s dislike of publicity increased with every passing year, and as he became more obsessive about his private life, his distrust of the media bordered on contempt. Tendulkar has somehow managed to cope with the intrusiveness of the forever burgeoning Indian media and has remained open and accessible despite being the most worshipped cricketer in the world. What is known is that Tendulkar rejoiced at the opportunity to spend time with Bradman, who is revered in India despite only once stepping foot in the country—in 1953, when the plane carrying him to England to cover the Ashes for England’s Daily Mail refuelled at the Dum Dum airport in Calcutta. In the music room of Tendulkar’s home in Bandra West, Mumbai, a photograph takes pride of place. It is an image of Tendulkar with Bradman taken in the family room of the Bradman home at Holden Avenue, Kensington Park, in Adelaide. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, a change-of-life child who has been kissed by the gods, will enjoy returning to Australia, where for a few weeks he can live with a greater sense of freedom. And he will be welcomed back with open arms.

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Shabaash, Sach, That’s The Line By Manggy

South Africa sent India on a leather hunt in the first Test at Centurion. Mahendra Singh Dhoni had run out of choices and finally tossed the ball to Sachin Tendulkar. To my surprise, Tendulkar decided to bowl his leg-spinners. Of late, Tendulkar does not bowl much and when he does he mostly bowls seam up and off-spinners, but never leg spin. So it was after a long time that I saw Tendulkar bowl his wrist spinners, which, by common acknowledgment, is a more difficult art than finger spin. And guess what? Tendulkar landed his first leg-spinner on the perfect spot possible. Ravi Shastri was in the commentary box when this happened and he too, I could see, was amazed by that and reacted likewise. This reminded me, and I suspect Shastri too, of something that had happened many years back in our playing days. It is an event that Shastri and me often remember when we talk about Tendulkar. Yes, after talking the whole day on television about cricket, commentators often end up talking on the same subject in the evenings. And when the topic is cricket, it is just a matter of time before the conversation gravitates towards Tendulkar. One incident that comes to mind happened during a Duleep Trophy game in Chennai in the 1990s. Shastri, Tendulkar and myself were part of the West Zone cricket team scheduled to play another zonal team. We were having our usual preparatory net sessions a day before the match at the Chepauk, and had the opportunity to take a good look at the pitch on offer. As it turned out, one look and it was clear that this was going to be a spinners’ paradise. And as luck would have it, we did not quite have enough spinners in our team, especially a quality off-spinner. What was to be done? Ravi and I talked about the matter, Tendulkar was around too. At one point a soft voice interrupted me and Ravi: “I will bowl my off-spinnersâ€. Both of us were astonished. We well knew by then that we had a cricketing genius in our midst who could do wondrous things with the bat and sometimes with the ball too. But both Ravi and me had never seen Tendulkar bowl off-spinners. And this was not a 50-over game where a decent five-over spell would suffice. This was a five-dayer where a spinner was expected to bowl at least 25 overs in an innings, if not more. In that match, Sachin Tendulkar ended up bowling almost 30 overs of off spin, all with short leg and silly point in close catching positions and we never felt short of a quality off-spinner. I suspect that was the first time Tendulkar had ever bowled off spin in a match at any level. This, his first attempt, came in a vital first-class game and he bowled like a veteran, often overshadowing the seasoned spinner at the other end. Basically what happened in Chennai that day was that his mind decided that it wanted to bowl off-spinners and his body responded accordingly. Today, that body is much older, but still continues to obey the Tendulkar mind like a minion at whatever it desires in cricket. That bowling performance is not one of Tendulkar’s significant feats, but both Ravi and I remember such little-known moments when we occasionally sit down and indulge our fascination with this extraordinary cricketer. I firmly believe that if Sachin were over six feet tall and a little more athletic, he would have been the Gary Sobers of the modern era. In fact, it’s safe to bet that he would have given Sobers a run for his money. Just like Sobers, there is nothing in the game that Tendulkar cannot do well. Except wicket-keeping, I guess; somehow that aspect of the game never seemed to appeal to him. Tendulkar will rarely be caught standing doing nothing or just watching when cricket is being played around him. He is a batting legend, but I don’t think there are too many great batsmen in the game’s history who have been as interested in bowling as Tendulkar has been. Trust me, bowling gives Tendulkar as much joy as batting does. You will often see him grab a ball and bowl in the nets the moment he has finished batting. No one has kept count but I am certain Tendulkar has clocked more hours bowling than batting in the nets. I am guessing that it is only when he found out in his teens that he won’t grow to be significantly taller that he gave up the ambition of being a fast bowler and decided it had to be batting that would take him to cricketing greatness. Even today, Tendulkar gets more excited when he sees a good fast bowling talent than when he sees a special batting talent. He just cannot hold back when he sees a tall, strapping young fast bowler bowling quick. He will rush to give the kid all the tips possible and share with him all his understandings of seam bowling. It is safe to say here, his understanding of using the seam of the ball is easily better than most seam bowlers who have played for India. When I used to captain Mumbai, I had to very tactfully separate Tendulkar from a young fast bowler. This was to ensure that Tendulkar was not sharing too much of his thoughts with the kid as he was about to bowl. Sachin just can’t hold back from giving advice to a young quickie; the problem is his advice is a bit too complex for most. Also, what he has in mind is often impossible for a rookie fast bowler to produce. I used to feel sorry for him in such situations. It was as if Tendulkar was trying to live his dream of being a great fast bowler through another, more physically gifted, athlete.

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Man Vs Machine By Sharda Ugra

Sachin Tendulkar is a 21st-century sporting superstar. He looks like it, from the outside anyway. He is known, he is celebrated, he is rewarded, awarded. He is the man who thousands of unknown people rest their dreams on. It is what sporting superstars are meant to do: perform, perfect and entertain, and represent a larger aspiration. Tendulkar’s lived this life from around age 20, from when he suddenly became the man to walk out for India in the short game. He may look like a 21st-century sports star but he has not acted like one. Today, he is seen on billboards, on television, in magazines and newspapers, saying this, offering that, standing for something else, a corporation, a clothing, a bank. This constant presence can often dim an athlete’s aura and annoy his public. But magically, not Tendulkar. In the world of advertising and marketing, they may think of him as The Brand, but he is yet to be seen consumed by it. The Brand is not yet A Brand. Unlike what Andre Agassi, Tendulkar’s contemporary at one stage, had become for a while. Or like David Beckham is now. Or Tiger Woods used to be. Or what M.S. Dhoni has tipped over into. As India and Indian cricket have changed during the course of his career, Tendulkar mysteriously has not. In his two-decade-long odyssey, Tendulkar’s main opponents, you would imagine, were bowlers, pitches, the opposition. He was, however, also involved in another contest, running on a parallel track for the same length of time. Tendulkar versus the Machine. It was Sports Illustrated writer Gary Smith who first described the Machine in 1997, as he tried to argue out the (now tragic) claim of Tiger Woods’s father: that his son was not just a golfer but humanity’s Chosen One. Smith didn’t believe the idea, because he said, in the contest between the Machine, with its “chewing mechanism of fameâ€, the athlete could never win. Circa 1997, Woods was what Tendulkar still is and these were Smith’s words: “The machine will win, because it too is destiny, five billion destinies leaning against one...it will wear the young man down, cloud his judgement, steal his sweetness.... The machine will win because it has no mind. It flattens even as it lifts, trivialises even as it exalts, spreads a man so wide and thin that he becomes margarine....†In just over a decade, Smith’s fears for Woods came true. The Machine today is a recognisable, seductive, dangerous thing. It is fuelled by success, fame, money, celebrity, the image industry—all of which has seeped into the Tendulkar career, alongside the startling inevitability of his progress. Every series, every game, every season, every year, every achievement, Tendulkar goes up against his external adversaries and also the Machine. That he has stayed ahead of the Machine so far is as much of an achievement as 97 centuries and thousands of runs. That he has not turned into margarine is a miracle. In an interview, Tendulkar spoke of a moment early in his career when he said what had happened to him, just after pulling on the India cap and T-shirt, “you start thinking that, oh, I’m somebody special.†It was an unnamed friend who then passed on a message to him. “Just tell Sachin that I’ve noticed he is probably starting to think differently; the sooner he realises it, the better it is.†Tendulkar said, “And I sat back and realised, yes it was true....†It is not the most profound piece of wisdom, it was probably a mate saying, “Hey, you, you’re close to becoming a punk, you know.†But it came at the right time. For the particularly gifted and successful athlete, the penny more often drops all too late. Tendulkar’s survival in a brutal business—Indian cricket first skyrocketing to financial highs before a consistency of sporting success—has extended beyond his being the fairly conventional ‘role model’, defined and lauded by ‘good’ public deeds. For a large demographic looking for clarity in a churning world, Tendulkar represents an idea, which will always wrestle with contemporary circumstance: the athlete as a clean, fair, respectful and successful competitor. It is so old-fashioned a notion that it gets called ‘boring’. Being so ‘boring’ is actually hard work. For a man who hates losing, it cannot be said Tendulkar has no ego. (All the great ones have large egos.) For a man who loves cars, it cannot be said he does not appreciate wealth. (Who does not?) What probably overrides both these powerful intoxicants, along with the advice from his friend, is a central belief that keeps Tendulkar a step ahead of the Machine, that convinces him to keep his own publicity at bay. He is not merely a student of cricket but, in fact, a devotee. In this volume, Clayton Murzello reveals how Tendulkar never throws his bat, ever. There is a clue there. He understands what he’d be without that bat. If he leaves the dressing room like a snarling competitor (telling Virender Sehwag before they went out to bat together against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup, “I’m going to get these guysâ€), he returns with humility, the dismissal is a reminder of his flaws, his frailties, his weaknesses. Former India coach John Wright says after he is out, there are no wild swings of emotion. The aggressor and accumulator becomes a ‘reflective’ batsman in the dressing room who sits down and is able to ‘de-brief’ himself. It is why, Wright said, Tendulkar “knows where to go with his mind and his techniqueâ€. It is perhaps why he has managed to stay clear of what most popular sportsmen fall victim to: entitlement. It is what he says to youngsters just into the team, “I know it’s good you are here but learn to respect the cricketers who actually played with you before.†Remember where you came from, “that will help you stay on the ground more than anything else.†Photograph by PAL PILLAI/Getty Images The model: At the ICC awards, Bangalore Essay Man Vs Machine That he has stayed ahead is as much a feat as his 97 centuries Sharda Ugra Text Size PRINT Share COMMENTS Special Issue: Sir Sachin Sir Sachin Sachin Tendulkar is a 21st-century sporting superstar. He looks like it, from the outside anyway. He is known, he is celebrated, he is rewarded, awarded. He is the man who thousands of unknown people rest their dreams on. It is what sporting superstars are meant to do: perform, perfect and entertain, and represent a larger aspiration. The marketing and ad world may see him as The Brand, but he’s not seen to be consumed by it. The Brand is not A Brand yet. Tendulkar’s lived this life from around age 20, from when he suddenly became the man to walk out for India in the short game. He may look like a 21st-century sports star but he has not acted like one. Today, he is seen on billboards, on television, in magazines and newspapers, saying this, offering that, standing for something else, a corporation, a clothing, a bank. This constant presence can often dim an athlete’s aura and annoy his public. But magically, not Tendulkar. In the world of advertising and marketing, they may think of him as The Brand, but he is yet to be seen consumed by it. The Brand is not yet A Brand. Unlike what Andre Agassi, Tendulkar’s contemporary at one stage, had become for a while. Or like David Beckham is now. Or Tiger Woods used to be. Or what M.S. Dhoni has tipped over into. As India and Indian cricket have changed during the course of his career, Tendulkar mysteriously has not. Remembering debts: with coach Achrekar In his two-decade-long odyssey, Tendulkar’s main opponents, you would imagine, were bowlers, pitches, the opposition. He was, however, also involved in another contest, running on a parallel track for the same length of time. Tendulkar versus the Machine. It was Sports Illustrated writer Gary Smith who first described the Machine in 1997, as he tried to argue out the (now tragic) claim of Tiger Woods’s father: that his son was not just a golfer but humanity’s Chosen One. Smith didn’t believe the idea, because he said, in the contest between the Machine, with its “chewing mechanism of fameâ€, the athlete could never win. Circa 1997, Woods was what Tendulkar still is and these were Smith’s words: “The machine will win, because it too is destiny, five billion destinies leaning against one...it will wear the young man down, cloud his judgement, steal his sweetness.... The machine will win because it has no mind. It flattens even as it lifts, trivialises even as it exalts, spreads a man so wide and thin that he becomes margarine....†In just over a decade, Smith’s fears for Woods came true. The Machine today is a recognisable, seductive, dangerous thing. It is fuelled by success, fame, money, celebrity, the image industry—all of which has seeped into the Tendulkar career, alongside the startling inevitability of his progress. Every series, every game, every season, every year, every achievement, Tendulkar goes up against his external adversaries and also the Machine. That he has stayed ahead of the Machine so far is as much of an achievement as 97 centuries and thousands of runs. That he has not turned into margarine is a miracle. In an interview, Tendulkar spoke of a moment early in his career when he said what had happened to him, just after pulling on the India cap and T-shirt, “you start thinking that, oh, I’m somebody special.†It was an unnamed friend who then passed on a message to him. “Just tell Sachin that I’ve noticed he is probably starting to think differently; the sooner he realises it, the better it is.†Tendulkar said, “And I sat back and realised, yes it was true....†It is not the most profound piece of wisdom, it was probably a mate saying, “Hey, you, you’re close to becoming a punk, you know.†But it came at the right time. For the particularly gifted and successful athlete, the penny more often drops all too late. As big as Big B: endorsing Pepsi Tendulkar’s survival in a brutal business—Indian cricket first skyrocketing to financial highs before a consistency of sporting success—has extended beyond his being the fairly conventional ‘role model’, defined and lauded by ‘good’ public deeds. For a large demographic looking for clarity in a churning world, Tendulkar represents an idea, which will always wrestle with contemporary circumstance: the athlete as a clean, fair, respectful and successful competitor. It is so old-fashioned a notion that it gets called ‘boring’. Being so ‘boring’ is actually hard work. For a man who hates losing, it cannot be said Tendulkar has no ego. (All the great ones have large egos.) For a man who loves cars, it cannot be said he does not appreciate wealth. (Who does not?) What probably overrides both these powerful intoxicants, along with the advice from his friend, is a central belief that keeps Tendulkar a step ahead of the Machine, that convinces him to keep his own publicity at bay. He is not merely a student of cricket but, in fact, a devotee. In this volume, Clayton Murzello reveals how Tendulkar never throws his bat, ever. There is a clue there. He understands what he’d be without that bat. If he leaves the dressing room like a snarling competitor (telling Virender Sehwag before they went out to bat together against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup, “I’m going to get these guysâ€), he returns with humility, the dismissal is a reminder of his flaws, his frailties, his weaknesses. Sachin never throws his bat, ever. He knows what he’d be sans that bat. He eludes what others fall prey to: entitlement. Former India coach John Wright says after he is out, there are no wild swings of emotion. The aggressor and accumulator becomes a ‘reflective’ batsman in the dressing room who sits down and is able to ‘de-brief’ himself. It is why, Wright said, Tendulkar “knows where to go with his mind and his techniqueâ€. It is perhaps why he has managed to stay clear of what most popular sportsmen fall victim to: entitlement. It is what he says to youngsters just into the team, “I know it’s good you are here but learn to respect the cricketers who actually played with you before.†Remember where you came from, “that will help you stay on the ground more than anything else.†Larger than life: refuge for hopelessness Those around him say he forgets nothing about his time in cricket, about the others who shared the field with him, what happened, what was said to him. Be it in his neighbourhood as a school boy, or in his first club game or during a match played before thousands when a nation held its breath. It is why he goes to meet his now-ailing coach before every tour, how he stays true to his gift. It is how he dodges the Machine. Twenty years on, what is easiest to understand about Tendulkar is his cricket. How it all falls into place: the eye reads the length of the ball, the mind decides to pick a stroke, the feet follow that instant of shot-selection, the arms and torso choreograph toward the moment of impact, where the bat ends up and where the ball. It’s the man who has evaded the Machine who is the mystery. People say it is his background, his family, his deep moorings but the Machine has always seen it all before and still won. Maybe it is because he comes from another era, when he played a different sport to the one he now explores. He comes not only from a time that is now just memory, his familiar surroundings as a growing boy have now turned into another place. When Tendulkar first broke through, he was a very shy teenager, a prodigy who didn’t like being treated as one, who hated attention and barely spoke to strangers. Who disliked being photographed outside his area of work. Who had police constables standing outside the exam hall where he gave his XII standard exam. He could have folded up, he could have fled, but he has looked the Machine in the eye and stood his ground. It means now, on the field, the crowd bears down on him, surrounds him, demands of him. There won’t be a public space in India he can walk free in; his holidays in Mussoorie, for the last few years now, begin and end with a short press conference. It is the Machine, always at his side, purring, growling, always trying to win. He will have to do so for the rest of his life, but for the moment, Sachin Tendulkar is winning.

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