November 23, 2011

Sachin Tendulkar

Hurry up, please, Sachin

Andrew Hughes

Saturday, 19th November Do you believe in fairy stories? Me too, even though over the years I’ve been badly let down by the likes of Santa Claus, the Loch Ness Monster and those leprechauns that my friend said would definitely appear at the bottom of the garden if I sat under the magical oak tree for long enough. After three hours sitting in the wet grass, I learned an important childhood lesson: never put your trust in imaginary little people.

But there’s still one story I believe in, though like many, my faith is being tested. All summer I sat staring at the television, waiting in vain for it to happen. I’m referring of course to Sachin’s hundred. According to the man himself, it’s “just a number”. Well, yes it is, Sachin, but that’s like an astronaut saying Mars is just a planet. And as you know full well, cricket is a number freak’s paradise. In fact, numbers are cricket.

Consider the jellyfish: a beautiful, delicate, ethereal underwater presence. But take it out of the sea and all you’ve got is a pile of squelchy stuff. So it is with cricket. When it goes the way of the dinosaurs, what will be left of it? A few glorious paragraphs from Cardus, the odd faded photograph of Doug Bollinger, and great piles of fossilised numbers. Numbers are cricket’s skeleton, its structure, its substance.

And a hundredth hundred is such a beautiful thing numerically, it is the dot on the exclamation mark, that feeling of inner peace you attain when you’ve solved a sticky piece of algebra, dug the last weed from the vegetable patch or finished wrapping all the presents. So please don’t keep us waiting any longer Sachin, we really need this. I just hope this isn’t the tooth fairy episode all over again...

Monday, 21st November For those of us who had wagered on an Australian win, the second Test was a rollercoaster, although not one of those tame theme-park affairs. No, this was a bowel-twisting, stomach-churning ride in a runaway mine cart with a wonky wheel, travelling at breakneck speed along a disused underground railway whilst being pursued by savage cutthroats waving sabres and unpaid utility bills.

Naturally, Patrick Cummins is my new hero. Not just wickets, but the endearing grin of a teenager who can’t quite believe he has been allowed to play with the grown-ups; and, gloriously, big, fat timely boundaries. As we know, teenage fast bowlers can let you down, but I’ve every confidence that he is the next Ray Lindwall, or possibly the next Craig McDermott or at the very least, the next Chris Matthews.

The only whiff of negativity about the thing was the realisation that this was all there was. It was like someone snatching a chocolate bar away from you just as you were getting to the crunchy bit in the middle, or the lights going up just as Hamlet says, “To be…” and the actors asking you to please remember to take your belongings with you on the way out and expressing their hope that you’d enjoyed the show.

Well, yes, it was a corker, I’d just like to see the rest of it to find out what happens.

Tuesday, 22nd November It was with some sadness that I read that Martin Crowe had retired again. I didn’t see his final game. Despite my badgering the young lady at the call centre, she did not budge from her, in my opinion, rather inflexible stance that my subscription did not entitle me to live coverage of New Zealand club cricket. I wasn’t asking them to fly Gower, Botham and Hussain out there. I’d have settled for Bob Willis with a camcorder. Then I had to explain who Martin Crowe was. I despair of modern youth.

So as I say, I didn’t see the game, but I imagine that even at the age of nearly over the hill, there was more style, panache and gold-plated star-quality in his three-ball retired-hurt duck than all of the rest of us combined managed in the entirety of our willow-swishing careers. Enjoy your second retirement, Martin.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Ashish on (November 30, 2011, 8:53 GMT)

My theory......Sachin should play ODI's to make his 100th hundred. Not only because there's less pressure and not much scope of slowing down near hundred(which sometimes does him in), there's another reason. The media should instead write about his 50th ODI century and pressurize him for that. We all know that he's prone to nervous 90's but not to nervous 40-45's. It's easier for him to get to 50 mark rather than hundred mark. Moreover this will make him hit 2 centuries and not only one. So 101 it is then.

P.S.- @Statistic freaks- I perfectly know that sachin has a high rate of conversion of 50's into hundreds(of course that's how he's hit so many). So just enjoy the pun.

Posted by Jonathon on (November 25, 2011, 8:34 GMT)

agree with chris... 100 international centuries is not that big of something to celebrate. DId people celebrate Murali's 1000 wickets? or Warnes? Why should we celebrate Tendulkar's 100 100? Should not be additive. In the future, they will add T20 centuries as well and will that be fair? Celebrate when he breaks 50 centuries in ODI's (if he plays them anymore...)

Posted by Satish on (November 25, 2011, 6:20 GMT)

It seems the Australians will be privileged to see the 100th 100 score in their own backyard because even I dearly want to see him score that here but I'd prefer it on the lively track of MCG or WACA rather than a strip of road of Wankhede. And don't worry Sachin you were, are and will be great in our eyes..

Posted by Thomas Winter on (November 24, 2011, 12:33 GMT)

I my self am a sachin fan, being a sri lankan. He is my book is the undisputed champion. BUT, i hate to say.... what if he fails to do it? then waht? is he a lesser person?....i hope not! SKP

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Posted by Spike on (November 24, 2011, 7:20 GMT)

The pitch in Mumbai certainly was not prepared for a result; some might even suggest that it was prepared to.. let's not say that out loud. For the sake of all us non-Sachin worshippers (I don not despise him, I just think his stats are helped a lot by pitches like they are currently playing on), can we please just get this over and done with?

Posted by Kaizenn on (November 24, 2011, 4:01 GMT)

Numbers indeed tell the story at a later date. 99.99 - Bradman 400 - Lara 800 - Muralitharan 555 - Jehangir Khan 10 - Nadia comaneci. 16 - Federer. 438 - South Africa

Posted by Raj on (November 24, 2011, 2:04 GMT)

well friends Sachin is waiting for a T20 match to complete his 100th ton....

Posted by Il Magnifico on (November 23, 2011, 22:47 GMT)

Hundredth Hundred? Did you realize he already got to the mark of 50,000th step on the pitch, 1,000,000th box-adjustment (including those during family gatherings), 3 billion total teeth brushed, 17 billion finger-flexes, and most importantly, 99 billionth let's-see-you-face-Lee-without-cr@pping-your-pants stare at a pencil-necked reporter who is throwing platitudes around?

Adding numbers form various forms of cricket and making up a milestone is like saying you're approaching 555,555th year of existence, if you count all your ancestors, going back to the Mother Gorilla.

Useless anticipation...Let it go already!

Posted by RB01 on (November 23, 2011, 19:31 GMT)

A century of centuries is quite a statistical gem, but in Cricket almost perfect also has a place. The last ball duck of Bradman is stuff of legends, and so if Sachin gets stuck at 99 it might not be so bad.

Posted by Chandra on (November 23, 2011, 17:45 GMT)

"that’s like an astronaut saying Mars is just a planet" - Andrew - you just rock!!! Just superb writing...excellent selection of words and phrases...hats-off!! Add me to the list of millions who are waiting with a bated breath for SRT's 100th 100!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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