Needless publicity and 'Sachin'
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 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.