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END-ULKAR - Monojit Lahiri - The Sunday Indian
 
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END-ULKAR

 

MONOJIT LAHIRI | Issue Dated: November 17, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Sachin Tendulkar | Cricket |
 

Beyond cricket, showbiz & the sporting world too appear to be freaking out at Sachin Tendulkar's recent retirement news.  Hello – haven’t other icons also, at some point, packed up? How come not a fraction of this mad outpouring of emotions happened?  What’s so special about the guy to inspire this tsunami?


For starters, the purple prose & insane gush describing the cricketer and his impact on team mates, opposition, critics, umpires, fans … remains unprecedented & fit to wake up the dead!


 Australia’s Mathew Hayden opens the innings with “I've seen God.  He bats at No. 4 for India!”  Confesses the feared speed star Dennis Lillie “If I’ve to bowl to Sachin, I’ll bowl with my helmet on.  God, he hits the ball so hard!”  Salutes the great Brian Lara “Sachin is a genius.  I am a mere mortal.”  Adds the legend & Sachin's guru Viv Richards.  He is 99.5 percent perfect.  I’d pay to see him.”  Comments the great veteran umpire Dickey Bird “He was the nearest to play like Bradman.  He is truly one of the all-time greats and someone who gave a lot of excitement to fans around the world.”  Says the great Imran Khan “His passion, focus, concentration, discipline & unquestionable ability made him one of the finest players of his generation and clearly set him apart.”  Rahul Bhattacharya goes misty-eyed and describes his batsmanship as “ethereal knocks sprinkled with celestial dust,” while SRK is amazed at his converting “stones to milestones” and Aamir Khan considers him to be “the ultimate role-model & pride of every Indian”.  Cricket Scholar Boria Mazumdar goes poetic “He’s our square yard in sporting heaven”, a heaven, believes social commentator Santosh Desai “that only he has the keys to”.  Even the towering Big B dismisses any comparison with “I haven’t achieved even half of what Sachin has …”


However, there are other, disparate, voices too. Veteran Cricketer [famous for his roobish accent!]  Geoffrey Boycott suggests that his legacy to cricket is more important “than playing for another couple of years. That will not enhance his reputation, only swell his bank balance.”  Earlier his [once?] best childhood buddy & school team mate Vinod Kambli went on record to state that Sachin should have retired after the 2011 World Cup Final with author & historian Ramachandra Guha seconding it with a strongly worded & well argued article.  While the public is notoriously famous for its selective memory, the discerning will remember how, [just a couple of years ago] people were baying for his blood and wishing that he would go [instead of being shown the door], calling him a selfish cricketer who despite disastrous performances hung around, secure in the fact that no one could dare touch his celeb status, blah blah blah.  Predictably, the same lot today is shedding vast amounts of crocodile tears!  Another Devil’s Advocate believes that Sachin clearly outstayed his welcome and points towards his performance-graph across the last two years.  Last Test hundred:  In 2011, Cape Town against South Africa.  Test Average 2012 – 19.8.  2013 – 32.  Had he any business to stick around?


Respected cricket commentator Ayaz Memon, first off the block, believes that the hoo haa about the timing of Sachin’s retirement is really trivia.  “Celebrate his legacy and the sheer joy he gave so many for so long while batting across all those years.”  Sure he has heard the barbs and seen the knives come out during Sachin’s lean phase, but Memon believes both turncoats and bad times come with the territory and no one can deal with them in a more confident, effective & dignified way than the little master himself.  “However, these are tiny, insignificant glitches on a canvas that overwhelms!  A life that stunningly embodies passion & purpose. Discipline & determination.  Ambition and achievement.  Decency and dignity.  No one in the history of Indian cricket – or any sport – has fired the collective imagination of so many for so long as Sachin.  Sure, we have had greats earlier on – [Merchant, Naydu, Pataudi Gavaskar, Kapil, Ganguli, Dravid, Laxman – and now Dhoni, Kohli & gang] but Sachin is a planet apart, for 24 years the nation’s No.1 go-to saviour!  For countless fans, Sachin’s dismissal was the time to shut the TV or leave the ground!  That’s what makes him special. Obviously, these emotions will reflect in their collective reaction to his retirement announcement, right?”  Regarding the mass hysteria, Memon reminds us that we live in media-driven times where the public is ravenous for red-hot, juicy, easy-to-digest news every second and so the media is forced to turn on the heat & deliver, any which way … and Sachin’s retirement is a god-send! When the great Gavaskar retired two decades ago, sure there was disappointment but it was, comparatively, low-key & muted because neither the public nor media were on steroids!”  What makes Sachin a path-breaker – Memon insists – is also because he was the first cricketer to attract multi-national corporates & big-ticket advertisers to successfully convert him to a Brand. “The reason was simple: Sachin Tendulkar epitomized everything that was good, positive & strong.  An achiever from a modest background who was fearless, propelled by his self-belief & confidence to conquer the biggest, through action, not words. A Champ who cherished his middle-class values, respected his serious, never ever flaunted his super-star status and throughout remained grounded, humble & real … traits he shared with the other great icon, Amitabh Bachchan  and therefore was the perfect connect between the consumer and the brand.”


Kishore Bhimani is up next.  Another respected veteran journo & cricket commentator notorious for calling a spade a shovel, Bhimani refuses to play footsie or mince words.”  Sachin Tendulkar is the finest batting talent I’ve seen in the last four decades plus that I’ve been closely connected with the sport – even surpassing the great Sunny Gavaskar – but, even genius has an expiry date!  His best is clearly over and it is both painful & embarrassing to see him struggle, a shadow of what he was.  Salute his monumental talent and all that he has brought to the game, but for chrissake don’t elevate him to godly status!  That clearly is ridiculous!”  Bhimani reckons that Tendukar should be remembered for three outstanding qualities: Courage, uncompromising, single-minded commitment to the game and his total/unflinching loyalty to the team as a team player.  Over & above this, his humility & grounded-ness, total access to all the new kids in the team and inspiration, both as a class act & role-model.  However, all good things must come to an end and nothing goes on forever, so it is curtains for this great cricketer.  Who knows, the way some of the new kids under Dhoni’s inspiration captaincy are faring, a new star could emerge …”


Maybe, but for now, the aura of Sachin Tendulkar is all-pervasive – a sweeping tidal wave that has prompted the highest cricketing authorities to do the impossible – flout the rules and allow Sachin to play out his last two tests in home-town Mumbai [where his mother & coach could be in attendance] and later Kolkata!  Such is the crazy anticipation of these matches, that cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle wonders “if the opposing team, West Indies, think they are the guests looking on at someone else’s wedding instead of a test match!”


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Post CommentsPost Comments
Posted By: George Mathew | Bangalore | November 13th 2013 | 17:11
It is sad to hear that Sachin Tendulkar's inning is over. What he has given to the Indian Cricket Team is priceless. Good luck Sachin!




Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017