July 15, 2012

Indian cricket

Needless publicity and 'Sachin'

MV Swaroop
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee presents an award to Sachin Tendulkar for scoring 100 international centuries, Kolkata, May 12, 2012
After the man's 100th international ton, the world celebrated him even more than it did when he reached far more significant milestones  © AFP
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A friend gets agitated every time someone refers to Tendulkar as Sachin. "It's always Ponting, Lara, Dravid, Kallis … and Sachin," he cribs. He then rants about how this clouds the world's assessment of a man is who, at best, "above average". He makes detailed tabular columns and excel sheets with statistics, painstakingly compiled from ESPNcricinfo's Statsguru, and forwards it to all of us who refer to the man as Sachin. And he insists, "Stop calling him Sachin, and you'll see him more clearly."

I started watching cricket seriously in 1990. I don't remember cricket before Sachin. In other words, for me, Sachin is as much a part of the game as bats, balls, bails, wickets, pads and gloves. I'm more familiar with his batting than I am with my own. When I watch him these days, I can almost predict his response to the bowling.

So, I explained to my friend that this familiarity meant that I couldn't call Sachin anything but Sachin - I know him that well. He scoffed and told me off for being a romantic fool. The hundredth international 100 tamasha then began. My friend first prayed that it shouldn't happen at Lords' - he didn't want a 'Hundredth 100 at the Mecca of Cricket' celebration. Sachin obliged, and continued to oblige at every potentially historic occasion. Finally, he scored it in a losing cause in an ODI against Bangladesh. Again, my friend was quick to point out that this perhaps led to India's exit from the Asia Cup.

Anyway, the century came. The world celebrated the man even more than it did when he reached far more significant milestones. He was criticised (on this very website) for his media blitz since that century. But this needless publicity hasn't stopped even now.

He was made a Member of Parliament, in what was possibly an unconstitutional appointment. (Article 80[3] of India's Constitution allows the President to nominate 12 persons who have knowledge or experience in literature, arts, science or social service. I am tempted to say his batting is an art, but the Constitution will disagree with me.) This has only put him more in the public eye than he ever was. More pointless interviews, more empty sound bites.

A case in point is the recent interview, which happened in Germany, at the Adidas walk of fame. Through ten questions and answers, one of the interviewers asks nothing new, and Sachin says nothing new. We still ask him what keeps him going, what the ODI format means to him, if he will bat like the Sachin of old. And he still gives us the same answers - he's been a cricketer all his life, he still enjoys the game, cricket is a team game.

The media must remember. For many, he isn't Tendulkar; he's Sachin. We know all these things about him. We could answer that interview as well as him, and we would largely be right. Whatever there is to be said about Sachin, has been said. Evocatively. Eloquently. Many times over. Maybe it's time they just moved on.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Ravi on (September 16, 2012, 18:42 GMT)

@ Naikan: Avg of 38 in first 20 tests could mean not only loss of place but goodbye to their careers, however, SRT could carry on and can carry on as long as he pleases without any significant performance. Yardsticks are anyways different for different players; take the case of Yuvraj or Harbhajan. Without proving in a domestic game they have made it to the team! Indian politics in sports well demonstrated.

Posted by Shishir on (August 9, 2012, 3:48 GMT)

An interesting read and very articulately expressed. Loved the writing as much as the truth about it.

Posted by Naikan on (July 30, 2012, 4:05 GMT)

I believe it has to do with the fans he generated as a 16 year old. A majority of the fans took to that young boy and one normally refers to a boy of school going age by name rather than by the sirname/family name, especially if it is so easy to quote as "Sachin". Now a majority of the fan following remained from that time and thus the calling card seems to have remained. In truth I was then amazed by the support he got from the establishment at that time, as in his first 20 tests, he averaged less than 38, which would generally mean loss of place for most batsmen. However because of his extreme youth a lot positive feelings flowed for him and of course he was from the Mumbai establishment. I feel he came into his own thereafter and especially when he started opening in the one dayers. While he has scored tons of runs in all formats - I feel the place he is truly special is in the one dayers.

Posted by lakmal raja on (July 29, 2012, 15:21 GMT)

With 100 tons and almost all other batting records to his name,I honestly think Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has nothing more to achieve ! God bless him!!!

Posted by Raj on (July 19, 2012, 21:07 GMT)

@Vimalan

My language skills? How bizarre. One could say you might be showing off your envy, and an inferiority complex and overly prickly and defensive attitude in your uncritical adulation of SRT. Except that of course it wouldnt be showing off, rather more reflecting an overwhelming lack of insight. There are millions of people who think speak and write in a similar vein. They could be said to have had an education. Guess to be educated in your eyes means they must all be showing off

Posted by girish on (July 19, 2012, 9:36 GMT)

anything spoken against god is a sin. and srt is god. so be careful and just let him rule cricket till he wants. respect ...........

Posted by Syed Ammar Saeed on (July 19, 2012, 5:44 GMT)

I wonder why on earth has not noticed (pardon me if i am wrong) that despite all accolades won by Tendulkar, a tripple century has not been on his cricketing resume. His highest score 248 and that too against Bangladesh is a point his critics must be happy to mention in arguments. So at least there is much STILL to achieve. So this question may also be asked and a tripple ton may be demanded / expected as Kallis despite all his greatness had to endure comments about lack of a double century in his illustrious career which he finally achieved. So folks be prepraed to witness CONTINUED episode of Tendulkar saga if this missed milestone comes into notice of both Mr. Tendulkar or his fans.

Posted by Saad on (July 19, 2012, 5:07 GMT)

Only well written. Nothing else in material

Posted by Abdul Siddiqui on (July 18, 2012, 18:49 GMT)

A well-written piece. I would agree that the media frenzy is a bit annoying, but I think that is perhaps the culture of today. This has less to do with cricket and more to do with the age of Kim Kardashian, William/Catherine's wedding and Shahrukh Khan. Perhaps, as fans of the gentleman's game, we wished for immunity from the new age of yellow journalism but, let's face it, even cricket can't be safe from this drivel.

Posted by Dashamlau Singh on (July 18, 2012, 15:06 GMT)

Now, Now, Swaroop, Each of us are given only a certain amount of words to write and have published. Why don't you use it wisely?

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