March 4, 2010

Indian cricket

Together for Tendulkar

ESPNcricinfo staff

Sachin Tendulkar's record has united a nation © DC Thomson & Co Ltd

Only Sachin Tendulkar, perhaps, can unite India’s often fractious, bitterly divided members of Parliament. His record-breaking ODI double-century has prompted the MPs to put aside their differences over budget deficits and spiraling inflation and their concerns over terrorism and armed insurgency to demand that Tendulkar be awarded the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour.

The award – which translates as “Jewel of India’ - has been conferred on 41 people since it was first instituted in 1954, and has seen only three recipients in the past decade. It’s also an award more associated with age and experience – the average age of a Bharat Ratna is 60-plus, though Rajiv Gandhi’s posthumous award came when he would have been 47. No sportsman has been given the award but it’s fair to say that, as in most other spheres, Tendulkar has a shot at creating history. He even has the public backing of his former team-mate Sourav Ganguly, who said only a Bharat ratna deserved the Bharat Ratna. The man himself, typically, says he would prefer to focus on his game. No rest for bowlers, then.

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Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo in India

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