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Tendulkar is just too good

By Ameet S. Jayawant
March 27, 2003 20:21 IST
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Let's see, it is 3 am and India just lost the coveted World Cup a few hours ago. Yes, many hopes were, proverbially, dashed, and even more proverbial dreams shattered, when we saw Ricky Ponting hold aloft the tattered remains of the hopes and aspirations of 1 billion people, which had remained rather steady, except for that one instance a month ago, through out this wonderful tournament.

I shall leave the dissection of the peculiarities of the final to more learned commentators, and I shall let the regular sports journalists exploit the virtues and disadvantages of the decisions made by either side. I shall let the pundits at Wisden tally up the overall individual rankings, and let us know, albeit tongue in cheek, as to who the best and worst players were; and I shall certainly not venture to espouse any "Siddhuisms" on the nuances of lost chances and strategies gone "aw-ry".

My sole purpose in writing this, whatever u wish to call it, is to bring to light one of the great events that has taken place in this tournament. Sachin Tendulkar is that event, and not withstanding his "nod" as being the best player of the tournament, I feel that one must exploit this opportunity to once again remind the cricketing community in particular and the public at large, as to what this one diminutive person represents to the game that we all love.

Let us finally put to rest all this talk of one man not performing well. Of Sachin not playing to his potential; of Mr. Tendulkar not taking a stand when it mattered most; and of him making it, as one enlightened commentator put it, "a habit of getting out in his 90s".

Let us look at Mr. Tendulkar for what he really is, and let us all agree of what he is not.

I do not find it appropriate to put him on a pedestal. I do not feel that when I say "him" that I should capitalize the "h", like he was some God. I do not feel that Mr. Tendulkar is anything more than a sportsman who is at the top of his game, and is looking back to find that the road to the top is rather bereft of any contemporary competition.

On what he is I can say only these few words: When people talk of him not performing in "crunch" situations let us just look at the recently-concluded tournament and in particular let us examine his 36 against Australia, when India were all out for 125.

His 50 against England, when the likes of Caddick and Hussain were weeping tears of blood, and Mr. Anderson could only look on in utter disbelief at this one man taking apart a vaunted pace attack; of the thrashing that the terrible trio took when Mr. Tendulkar decided that he was spotting the ball early enuff to take the Rawalpindi Express for a joy ride, and make Mr. Akram wish that he had retired before the much talked about India-Pakistan match; and of Mr. Waqar Younis hoping against hope that this one small chap would retire hurt, either due to a ham string injury or due to the divine intervention of the Almighty.

On what he is, is the fact that he has played more ODIs than most of the top order of the top ODI playing countries.

Of what he is: he has a consistent average that the top 3 Aussie players would gladly give all 4 of their limbs for, and happily roll out to play in a wheel chair, holding the bat in their mouths, if only to hear the fervent screams of 1 billion people in their heads, and all of those present in the stadium, wherever in the world that may be, in their ears. Yes, please ask Messers Ponting, Gilchrist & Hayden if they would like to trade places with Mr. Tendulkar, and then you can slap me silly if I am wrong.

Of what Mr. Tendulkar is not is that he is not a machine, and let us not forget that one salient point the next time he goes out to bat.

Of what Mr. Tendulkar is not is that he is not a crowd pleaser. He plays his game as the most thorough of professionals, and does his best every time that he dons the "blues", for himself but more so for his team and by extension his country.

Of what Mr. Tendulkar is not is that he is not a punching bag for those pundits who never in their lives had to face the pressures of carrying so much on their shoulders.

Of having the aspirations of so many people to look after. Of having to take criticism, or for that matter applause, when they cared not for such fleeting moments of fancy.

No, what Mr. Tendulkar is is that he is a person, and should be as such treated with the same respect and dignity that we would like accorded to us. He has not asked for your graces, and therefore he should be treated fairly without being maligned every time that he does not perform like a circus monkey for us.

Mr. Tendulkar is that one rare sportsman, seen once is a very, very long time, and we should be grateful for the fact that either by fate, or design, we have been lucky enough to have been a witness to the greatness of his craft.

Apart from that let us leave him alone, and let us learn to enjoy the magic that he weaves every time that he waves the willow and sends the leather orb crashing across the boundary ropes to the tumultuous applause and frenzy of his much beloved public.

He is the quintessential sportsman, for he does not perform to please. He performs 'coz by grace of God, or whoever, he has been blessed with a talent that is seen, like Halley's comet, once in a lifetime.

Editor's note: Rediff believes that like its own editorial staffers, readers too have points of view on the many issues relating to cricket as it is played.

Therefore, Rediff provides in its editorial section space for readers to write in, with their views. The views expressed by the readers are carried as written, in order to preserve the original voice.

However, it needs mentioning that guest columns are opinion pieces, and reflect only the feelings of the individual concerned -- the fact that they are published on Rediff's cricket site does not amount to an endorsement by the editorial staff of the opinions expressed in these columns.

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