If you are indeed a cricket lover, one thing you can’t deny is the joy one experiences when the players are sent on a leather hunt by an aesthetic willow wielder. When both “aesthetic” and “willow” comes to your mind, even the most dumbest minds in the planet (who are aware of cricket) will think about Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
Such is the aura of the man that he is almost revered in India and most respected in the cricketing fraternity. Growing up as a kid, we watched Sachin treat the bowlers with disdain, dish out punishment to the likes of Shane Warne, Muthiah Muralitharan and Glenn McGrath who were considered to be the best in business. Nobody can watch Sachin in his prime and not fall in love with his batting. If you doubt me, I dare you to watch the Sharjah Cup in 1998, I dare you to watch how he took Shane Warne apart. Warne admits he had nightmares about Sachin dancing down the pitch and hitting him over his head over the boundary. This comes from a man who made batsmen unsure and unsafe at the batting crease. The 90s saw Tendulkar stand tall over some really tough challenges against Shane Warne, Saqlain Mushtaq and Muthiah Muralitharan. His foot movement could best be described as a silky dance down to connect the willow with the leather. The straight batted drive and the loft over the bowlers’ head will go down memory lane!! During these special tons his strike rate was well above 80 runs per 100 balls. It would be a cliché if I say Sachin is the best modern day batsmen ever!!!!!!
My earliest memory of Sachin Tendulkar remains as the man who was the only Indian batsman to torment bowling attacks. In that Indian line up only one man could consistently scorch magnificence. To an extent, Mohammed Azharuddin made his presence felt with some eloquent flicks. You just need to watch Sachin play a magnificent straight drive down the ground, and you know you are in for a “Tendlya” special. His statistics are a proof of his greatness. How else do you explain 18000 runs in ODIs and 15000 in tests. It is truly mind boggling!!!!!!! His longevity is another testimony to his greatness. He still retains his hunger and passion for cricket even after 22 years since he embarked on a historic journey at Karachi in 1989.
Tendulkar’s ability to play more than 2 strokes for any delivery at any point of time in the game was one of the reasons to help him score runs freely than his peers. One of my favorite moments was best described by John Wright who was then the coach of the team in his book, Indian Summers. It was the big India-Pakistan game in the 2003 World Cup. He goes on to say, “As our openers walked down the long flight of stairs to begin the chase, Viru told Sachin, ‘Don’t say anything to me about my batting except “go and lagaao”’ – basically, go for it. Sachin replied, ‘I’m going to get these guys.’ Such was his intent and nobody could forget that match winning 98. When you grow up to such a player in a cricket loving nation, you are expected to be his greatest fan. I am proud to say I am one of them.
Tendulkar at his very best, is a free scoring colossus who vanquishes all he comes up against. To say the least he carried the team on his shoulders in the 90s singlehandedly. Sachin evinces a romantic love for cricket and more for his batting in all who watch him. For an instance, during the 2007-2008 tour of Australia, an Australian cricket fan came to see Sachin with his son. He had named his son “Sachin” being an ardent fan of the master blaster.
When the inevitable retirement happened, a lot of cricket fans, especially in India have not experienced cricket as it once was. Certainly in my case. My romantic tryst with cricket came to an end with the end of the Tendlya era. is an oft repeated cliché “Form is temporary, Class is permanent”. Though Sachin retired, we still yearn for the “Tendlya” magic that made cricket so special again and again.
“Enjoy the game and chase your dreams, because dreams do come true”, he says after his monumental 100th ton. His biggest dream that came true, he says was India’s world cup triumph. That shows the man’s selfless nature, often portrayed otherwise by some naïve media persons.
The words of Peter Roebuck, who was a renowned sports columnist -
“On a train from Shimla to Delhi, there was a halt in one of the stations. The train stopped by for few minutes as usual. Sachin was nearing century, batting on 98. The passengers, railway officials, everyone on the train waited for Sachin to complete the century. This Genius can stop time in India!!”
What BBC comprehends about Sachin–Beneath the helmet, under that unruly curly hair, inside the cranium, there is something we don’t know, something beyond scientific measure. Something that allows him to soar, to roam a territory of sport that, forget us, even those who are gifted enough to play alongside him cannot even fathom. When he goes out to bat, people switch on their television sets and switch off their lives.
That is as close to the truth as it gets. I am proud to have had a chance to grow up watching Sachin bat.