Friday, February 2, 2007

Sach is life.

Poor Sachin. Whenever he plays poorly these days, people say "He is not the Sachin of the 90s". When he plays well, people still say "He is not the Sachin of the 90s". That's the curse of being Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

Of course he is not the same. Is any one amongst us the same person that he/she was 10 years back? Why should he be an exception? He is no vegetable.Or Dev Anand. With age, the bones start to ache, the muscles start to cramp and crucially, the mind starts playing games.

Let us all admit it. His batting won't probably be as exciting as it was 7-8 years back. There will be times when the old sparkle will be visible, but not as consistently as we are used to. Lets give the devil his due though. He was the proverbial knight in shining armour of the Indian team, when it was choc-a-bloc with either match fixers ( Azhar, Mongia, Jadeja and company) or with a bunch of no gooders ( Venkatesh Prasad, V Raju, H Kanitkar, V Bharadwaj, V Rathore etc).He was the sole reason many people watched matches during that dismal period. At least for me. This is not to demean the contribution of others at that time ( Kumble, Robin Singh and yes, Azhar). But he was the star, the saviour, the messiah.

It was the late 90s and early 2000s that saw the emergence of Dravid as a champion batsman ably supported by Ganguly, Laxman, Sehwag and others. Sachin has seen both the worst ( match fixing controversies, drubbing at the hands of Aus in 99 to quote a few) and the best (first series win over Pakistan, reaching finals of 2003 WC, Ind-Aus series of 2001) of Indian cricket over the past decade or so.

He has done enough to be counted amongst the top 3 batsmen of the modern era. I would dare say, second only to Lara.

There have been doubts regarding his ability to perform in crucial moments and under pressure. Try telling that to a man having played the way he has, with a million expectations of the people of our country. Leaving aside the TV viewers, just performing in front of the thousands of expectant spectators in a stadium is a daunting task. I have been to Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on a couple of occasions for watching international matches. The sheer volume with which he is greeted when he arrives to the crease or plays a dazzling stroke is daunting and can terrorize lesser mortals into meek submission.

I guess that's the curse of being Sachin, the matches he couldn't win for his team is mentioned before the ones he has actually won.Let's celebrate the legend of Sachin while he's still playing for India and cherish what he has given to this team rather than dwelling on what he could have given.

On a related note, this is a good read. The writer makes an interesting point about cricket being just another sport and a form of entertainment at the end of the day. Some of us do tend to cross the fine line between appreciating a talented man's achievements and blind, fanatic worship. It's true for the people at the other end of the spectrum. Those who vandalize cricketers' houses or burn effigies after poor performances on the field. They need to channelize their boundless energies into something more constructive.

Post Script: Yes, i am a Sachin fan. I always was. But I never try to justify his mistakes or try to cover his shortcomings. He is no GOD to me either. But i am a fan nevertheless. The only complain i have ever had with him is with his restaurant 'Sachin's' in Mulund. It sucks.Big time.

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