Asia Cup 2012 March 14, 2012

The joy of Tendulkar

Tendulkar has already played more Tests and one-day matches than anybody else. Surely the relentless grind of international cricket would have bored him by now? Think again

It is now more than a year since Sachin Tendulkar scored his 99th international hundred. On that day in the World Cup when he made South Africa look clueless for 40 overs in Nagpur, it seemed the 100th was imminent. At 37, he had just had his most productive year of a decorated career, and had made two masterly centuries against top opposition in the World Cup.

Now, after 33 century-less innings, one less than his longest barren spell ever, and the disappointments of England and Australia, even the usually reverential media are raising questions about his place in the side, at least in one-dayers. Is the burden of the 100th weighing him down? The man himself hasn't said much. But would someone who has shouldered surreal amounts of pressure all through his cricketing career buckle when faced with a milestone that many have argued is a made-up one?

Tendulkar made his debut in 1989; on Tuesday's game against Sri Lanka, the team-mate with the next longest career span was Gautam Gambhir, who entered international cricket nearly 14 years after him. Was Tendulkar losing his appetite for the game, especially as the more familiar faces in the dressing room are starting to disappear? Not on the evidence of Wednesday's training session.

It was an optional session, and it was expected that on the day after the win against Sri Lanka, only the reserve players would turn up. Only three members of the 15-man squad showed up; Tendulkar was one of them.

A meticulous 70-minute batting session followed, as he faced Yusuf Pathan and Rahul Sharma, besides some sharp medium-pace from new bowling coach Joe Dawes, more mild medium from the computer analyst and throwdowns from fielding coach Trevor Penney. There was plenty of chat with the bowlers, and Fletcher kept a close eye on the batsman, providing the stray bit of advice. After the session, Tendulkar had a long conversation with Fletcher.

Till then, there had been a few laughs but the training had been mostly business-like, bearing the hallmarks of a batsman short of runs trying to iron out problems. He rarely bowls these days, and his practice for the day could have ended there, and he could have retired to the shade.

Instead, he stuck around and immensely enjoyed himself with a cat-and-mouse spell of legspin bowling to Rahul Sharma. First, he tested each of the bats Rahul had carried out, and picked out the best one for Rahul to use. He sent down a ripping legbreak that Rahul tried to clobber from the nets to the main Shere Bangla ground, only to be beaten by a long way, to Tendulkar's amusement. The next legbreak was solidly defended, prompting Tendulkar to jokingly ask why he didn't try to slam that one as well. There were googlies that thudded into Rahul's thigh, a straighter one which fizzed on to middle stump, and many times when the batsman struck the ball, Tendulkar would signal that it would have been caught at mid-on or midwicket. The session ended with Tendulkar giving Rahul some batting tips.

Tendulkar has already played more Tests and one-day matches than anybody else. Surely the relentless grind of international cricket would have bored him by now? Whenever asked why he continues to play, Tendulkar invariably says he does because he still loves the game and enjoys it.

It may sound like a pat cliché but in that brief spell against Rahul, it was clear that even after all these years, he still relishes playing the game and derives much delight from it. Add to that the rigorous preparation and the craving for improvement he showed while batting, and it suggests he is in no hurry to join fellow batting legend Rahul Dravid in retirement.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on March 16, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    16/03/2012 at 5.06pm BST,Dhaka,Bangladesh. World has not seen this moment before and most unlikely it will see again.I'm lucky,I live in the same country,where Sachin Tendulkar lives.

  • ultrasnow on March 16, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    I'm a late riser and just have this horrible problem with opening my shop on time every morning (am invariably late). Tendulkar's work ethic should be an inspiration for people for all ages. His attitude and being approachable to his younger team mates is what sets this man apart. Rahul Sharma is a very fortunate young man.

  • rohanblue on March 16, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    @JChandi u criticizing sachin is like a 3rd standard fail criticizing stephen hawking.....

  • JChandi on March 16, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    Sachin getting 100th hundred in subcontinent against B'desh not a big suprise(suprise if he coulden't) but its somthing that Indian fans can proud of and happy that he will retire soon giving youngsters a chance. Also he is going to prove that entire wold is correct over that past year that he can only get 100th against B'desh and Zimbabwe, and that is also only in subcontinant.

  • JChandi on March 16, 2012, 10:05 GMT

    Sachin is gonna score 100th 100 against B'desh!....he he

  • Busie1979 on March 16, 2012, 8:22 GMT

    This talk about the 100th hundred is starting to get boring.

  • teedee_india on March 16, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    So ... "Sachin enjoys optional nets" ? that at least is the text of the link to the above article. That's about all he enjoys and he's selfish enough to carry doing what he enjoys. Never mind if he's blocking the path of some other player who has been working hard trying to get a regular place in the India 11. Granted that all cannot be Tendulkars but surely the other 10 in the team also are needed. This obsession of 100th hundred is hurting the team and Indian cricket. Regardless of what he feels, Sachin at his age is at least 30% slower than many other youngsters in the team and he needs to show some respect for the nation by gracefully retiring. The old saying" Go when people ask "why?" and not "why not?". He's done a lot for Indian Cricket but if the weak kneed BCCI Selectors don't have the guts to drop him, the Sachin should have the decency to move on himself.

  • RISHI2016 on March 16, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    It would be fitting if SRT gets somewhere around 70 to 80 runs in a competitive strike rate and save his best for pakistan. For people bashing sachin why is there no one in the history of cricket to have 99 international cricket. This number wont matter for him and numbers have never mattered to him. Its simple. Save and enjoy all that is left of this great servant of game. Thank him for what he has given us, for its we who made him God and lets not forget he is human. It wont be a surprise if he announces his retirement within a year. His celebration wont be dramatical. He wont swear.He wont point out. What do we know of Sachin of what Sachin knows of Cricket ?

  • dummy4fb on March 16, 2012, 6:30 GMT

    he is the best player. let him to play till he wants. do not give him extra burden. i am sure he can make more than 110 international centuries. god of cricket do not be nervous. make it today.

  • on March 16, 2012, 6:25 GMT

    Ha ha this article reminds me of a page 2 article which said 'SACHIN SIZZLES IN NETS'..

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