March 17, 2012

Indian cricket

Hail the boy king Tendulkar

Kanishkaa Balachandran

The batting feats of WG Grace and Don Bradman were once thought to be unchallenged. Until Sachin Tendulkar came along. David Frith, writing in Daily News and Analysis, says he was fortunate to be there at the very beginning, when Tendulkar scored his first international century at Old Trafford.

His patience was clearly obvious to the onlookers: he waited almost an hour for his first run of that first Test century. And afterwards he came into the press room to receive the Man of the Match award and a huge bottle of champagne. I can still recall his high-pitched response: “But I do not drink!”

In Mumbai Mirror, Santhosh Desai writes that Tendulkar did not score his 100th century so that he can retire. He scored his century so that he does not have to retire.

Through the course of the last few years, Sachin has become a site of manufactured expectations, a storehouse where we stockpile a nameless unexpressed rage. Even his 100th century has been a milestone we have imposed on him. Every game India has played since March 2011 has been consumed in reverse, from Sachin’s hundred downwards. We have put him before the game and then accused him of doing the same.

In the Guardian, Mike Selvey writes that Tendulkar's feat is a statistical irrelevance. Taken in isolation, the fact that he has scored 51 Test centuries is sufficiently eloquent on its own.

The addition of one to the other to create something else is mixing apples with pears to create a fruit bowl, as if a voracious media and public have striven to create yet another monument to Tendulkar's greatness that they might not accord others.

Angus Fraser was the bowler Tendulkar pushed past mid-off at Old Trafford to record his first century. In The Independent, Fraser writes that Dravid's retirement might encourage Tendulkar to carry on a little longer, because his appetite for runs hasn't diminished over 22 years.

In BBC, Suresh Menon writes that for anyone to emulate Tendulkar, he will have to start his career early and play for two decades, averaging five per year.

Indian cricket is based on passion, on easily-stirred emotions; players are worshipped for what they do, romance trumps realism, sentiment pushes out logic and reason. A Tendulkar ton in defeat is feted more heartily than a 40 in victory.

Sachin Tendulkar was an individual who always let his performances do the talking. He is also an intensely private man who rarely showed his emotions on the field. Vijay Lokapally recounts his experiences with Tendulkar in The Hindu.

His popularity stems from his desire to show respect to his fans, especially the younger lot. On one occasion, at The Taj Palace in Delhi, the local manager, a former Delhi first-class cricketer, brought some 30 kids unannounced to Sachin's room. We were in the middle of a dinner when the kids rang the bell. Sachin, though caught unawares, kept his annoyance to himself. He coolly placed a chair in the middle of his room and invited the children in, requesting them to do so in a disciplined manner.

It was easy to forget that there was a match to be won by India. In First Post, Ashish Magotra asks if the milestone obsession cost India the win.

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Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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