A special ability to stay in the moment

A former New Zealand captain pays tribute
Martin Crowe November 18, 2013

Sachin Tendulkar hooks during a tour game in Napier in 2002 © Getty Images
related links

Sachin Tendulkar completed the most incredible, wonderful 24 years imaginable. While the records stand out, it is the humility and inspiration that will last forever.

It will be his temperament that I will remember the most. When he batted against New Zealand at the tender age of 16 in the first Test in Christchurch in early 1990, he lasted just one ball, caught behind off Danny Morrison. The ball was too quick and too tough for this young boy.

A week later, on a slightly slower pitch in Napier, he found his feet and the pace of the bowling and went on to play a beautiful innings of 88. He fell just short of becoming the youngest Test centurion of all time. What astonished me at close quarters was his ability to forget the nerves and pain of the previous week, and to instead focus on what was in front of him.

He batted with a freedom from expectation and simply embraced the moment and his joy and love for the game. He moved easily, stroking the ball late and with power, playing each ball on its merits. As the century came closer, for the first time in the innings, he felt the sense of occasion, and not the sense of the next ball. He got out playing loosely, throwing his hands at the ball early, a sure sign his mind was getting ahead of himself. I have no doubt he would have learned one of his most invaluable lessons from that dismissal. From that moment on he would have learnt to stay in the moment no matter what the score, no matter what milestone approached.

The only other time I have seen his temperament falter, as it did as a 16-year-old in Napier, was when he went through that agonisingly long period of trying to register his 100th international hundred. That period seemed to last an eternity. It was simply too much of a burden mentally for him to knock that miraculous milestone off, as he had done the previous 99 hundreds. So in many ways getting his first hundred, and then his last, were indeed the hardest.

That he never got another hundred after the hundredth tells the story of a man who had climbed his Mt Everest, with nothing more to be achieved. In the end he went back to being the greatest example of humility and inspiration, as he spent the last three years simply playing for the love of the game and the love of his people.

It was the perfect end in Mumbai. If he had scored another hundred it would have conjured up more desire within, to keep going. By faltering and falling on 74 he proved to himself that the time was perfect.

Sachin, you graced those 22 yards in a way that no other man or woman has ever done. You graced the game of cricket on a level that has never been matched. From WG Grace to now, you stand above them all.

Posted by PSandeepMath on (November 22, 2013, 13:21 GMT)

"If he had scored another hundred it would have conjured up more desire within, to keep going. By faltering and falling on 74 he proved to himself that the time was perfect." Perfect analysis. Every Indian fan and a Sachin fan would have loved for him to continue till eternity. But as life goes, it had to end at some point. In the end, he had to let go and we had to let go. # ThankYouSachin

Posted by Sandeep.M.J.D on (November 19, 2013, 7:58 GMT)

ashwin.boda, please refrain from talking about criticism, notice what you are currently doing. People represented nations are not God sent people, they succedded just one step further than others for what ever the reasons. It is not always true that one played the game at highest level knows better than you or him, you know, all great batsmen are not necessarily good coaches. Sreenivias had a point, if you agree, appreciate it. Otherwise write something about what you think.

Posted by ashwin.boda on (November 19, 2013, 3:57 GMT)

Sreenivas Mangipudi, a few things you should consider. 1. Martin Crowe is a much more accomplished batsman and cricketer than you. I say this because I have not seen your name in any kind of team, so I think it would be safe to say you are just an arm chair critic, who thinks he knows better than anyone else, even if that anyone else is someone who actually represented his country and knows what it is to play competitive cricket. So, when someone who has been there, done that, I think you should just listen and not critique that too. Also, it would be nice, if you had played sport competitively, before commenting on what it is to play sport competitively.

Posted by GrindAR on (November 18, 2013, 18:50 GMT)

Good to see the rememberence from Martin Crowe. In obama's words.... Sachin brought the belief in Indians, that "We Can Do". Shortlyt from his debut, this was the belief that Indian Cricket and kids, yougsters built upon in their own aspirations. There were few who did the same thing, but the sport he represented, had a wider impact and so his presence. So, today's BCCI/Team India have a lot to thank him as the best person they had in ages to bring prosperity to the Subcontinent. Because, he brought belief in every country they can beat any highly caliber-ed team as they do in their back yard.

The sports columns in the news paper those days played on, the self-confidence that blossomed inside now adult like me and many others, did a lot good than bad. I would say, the game Cricket is so popular in India is that the transformation in 1990's people gone through, majorly contributed by Cricket and supporting media. SRT took the center stage for good with SG, RD & VVS chipped glory.

Posted by tickcric on (November 18, 2013, 17:23 GMT)

I visited to find some new Sachin related article. Truth is for the last few days I feel like reading and thinking about nothing but Sachin! So I find two new articles on Sachin and one of them from Martin Crowe (my 1992 hero)! I jump into it both for Sachin and Martin and hoping to get, as always something fresh from Martin... Century the landmark has adorned Sachin the most number of times, in fact a century times! Yet it has also taken from Sachin. It may be argued Sachin has missed a bunch of centuries due to the immense value he imparted on this landmark. I agree with you that in the final few years he was just playing it for the love of the game and that the end have been perfect. Keep on writing sir.

Posted by sk123 on (November 18, 2013, 15:43 GMT)

It's funny how some of the people can't cope with all the attention Sachin is getting. They forget that it is people's free will to like or dislike anyone and it's their right to have their own opinion. For some he may've overstayed in the team, but for the rest of us, it was worth it to see that Straight Drive one more time. Frankly his avg for last 2 years has been better than the 85% of the international batsmen for the same time - especially their avgs against the attacks of England, SA and Aus. He has been a victim of his own standards ... otherwise, some people have had a "good" career with an avg of 33 .. which was his avg for past two years .. I would really like to see another batsman flourish the way he has under the pressure that he has played in. It's hard to live up to the expectations of your own parents, forget living to the expectations of the whole country!

Posted by   on (November 18, 2013, 12:45 GMT)

I admire Mr. Crowe and loved his one day batsmanship, and captaincy. I am not entirely sure I agree with some statements in this article.

My primary crib is with "That he never got another hundred after the hundredth tells the story of a man who had climbed his Mt Everest, with nothing more to be achieved". In the case of some of the lesser mortals or what have you, this fact would have been constantly brought to the table while pushing for a potential ax. Also, the thing with playing sport competitively is that you simply cannot rest or stop. If you feel that you have achieved it all it is time you go and not hang on for a few more years. We must not lose sight while pouring our plaudits and gushing over tendulkar that over the last 3 years of his test career he was the elephant in the room that no one decided to call out. Come to think of it Tendulkar averaged less than 30 over his last 25-30 innings.

Posted by Emancipator007 on (November 18, 2013, 9:03 GMT)

M.Crowe, the 2nd most beautifully aesthetic technician in cricket history after Sunil Gavaskar. Possibly the best batsman during 1st 4 years of SRT's career ( along with maybe R. Richardson,Boony).Handled younger Akram/Waqar's reverse swing with aplomb. I woke up religiously to follow his batting (and tactically astute captaincy) during that dream run to '92 World Cup semi-finals (ending with languid Inzy's blitzy knock-out blow).A career cruelly cut short cos of injuries. NZ's jewel along with the peerless Hadlee. Crowe, never given to hyperbole, means what he has said in last line about SRT supplanting Grace as the most influential cricketer in history (even if not the best Test batsman).That 16-year old was also the ONLY teenager to be a fundamentally Test-ready batsman in cric history- with the same fundamental game intact uptill his last knock (obviously accounting for late career dips/form ebbs).

Comments have now been closed for this article

Features

The man whom cricket loved back

Sambit Bal: Tendulkar was the biggest worshipper the game could ever find, and in that lay the foundation of his greatness

Tendulkar's perfect balance

Sharda Ugra: While the team, the country and the sport changed around him, Tendulkar remained constant

Why do we insist on seeing the 'real' Sachin?

Rahul Bose: You can ask as much as you want for a more "human", more "feelable, touchable" Sachin, but he'll probably not change - and that's a good thing

Zaltz Stats

550,000,000
The approximate number of people in India today who had not been born when Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut in 1989 (calculated from these figures). His batting has been so erotically outstanding that the global population has increased by almost 2 billion during his career, with the biggest increase, understandably, in India itself.

I have played cricket for 24 years, it has been only 24 hours since retirement, and I think I should get at least 24 days to relax before deciding these things.

Sachin Tendulkar doesn't want to think of what lies ahead just yet