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The Heavy Ball

Sachin's greatest challenges, and Sri Lanka's initial advantage

A few things Tendulkar will struggle to achieve, Kapil's doctorate, and the boy who saw it like a football

Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar share a light moment during a net session, Ahmedabad, November 15, 2009

Virender Sehwag demonstrates to Sachin Tendulkar how long he's been around  •  AFP

After all the limited-overs frenzy in recent weeks, cricket has seen a rather sedate fortnight, with the only real highlight being the 20th anniversary of Sachin Tendulkar's international debut.
"Wow, two whole decades! Do you realise that when I started playing, Ian Bishop still had hair while Harsha Bhogle didn't?" quipped a relaxed-looking Tendulkar at an informal press meet. Tendulkar dwelt on how cricket has changed in the 20 years since he arrived on the scene as a cherubic teenager.
"Back then, T20 was a seat number at the Wankhede, South Africa wasn't playing international cricket, and nobody in the Indian team really understood what K Srikkanth was saying. Now T20 is becoming the sport's most popular and lucrative format, South Africa is a top international side, and nobody in the whole world really understands what K Srikkanth is saying," he reminisced with a nostalgic smile. He also agreed that the last mentioned problem could be solved fairly reliably by simply assuming that Srikkanth was saying "Did you know that Sachin played first under my captaincy?" which is the case approximately 63% of the time.
While Tendulkar insisted he had nothing left to prove as a player, he still has plenty of unfinished business to attend to before ending his career. "There are plenty of challenges left. Winning a World Cup. Scoring a Test triple-hundred. Getting Vinod Kambli to return my Dire Straits CDs - which is something even players like Ricky Ponting and Brian Lara haven't achieved," he winked, raising a round of guffaws from the audience. However, he did admit that some challenges were beyond even his considerable skills and influence - such as naming the current Zimbabwe captain, distinguishing between Garry Kasparov and Zaheer Khan, and getting Lalit Modi to stop looking at his BlackBerry.
Tendulkar signed off on a lighter note, saying, "Okay, time to go. Need to attend a few more felicitation functions - before that creepy lookalike guy slyly usurps my thunder. Anyone remember him?"
Another Indian cricket legend, Kapil Dev, was honoured with an honorary doctorate from an Indian University.
"Nice. At least now people will remember me for reasons other than those creepy Palmolive and Vinter Collection ad campaigns," said a beaming Kapil. When someone mentioned that he was remembered much more for his famous World Cup win, holding the record for the most Test match wickets, and his legendary all-round exploits, he looked embarrassed and replied, "Oh! Yeah! That stuff, too. Heh. Heh"
He also denied that, now that he was Dr Kapil Dev, he was going to apply for the post of Team India physio.
Meanwhile the ongoing Test match between India and Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad has seen centuries scored by DPMD Jayawardene and HAPW Jayawardene, and a superb bowling performance by UWMBCA Welegedara, who replaced WPUJC Vaas in the side. There were also decent contributions from KTGD Prasad and HMRKB Herath. "Yeah, I guess we have the initial advantage," grinned Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara, looking mockingly at VVS Laxman. He then left to join the rest of his boys to watch U2, REM, and NKOTB on MTV at a BYOB party hosted by former Maruti Udyog managing director RSSLN Bhaskarudu.
Also, in a rather bizarre incident, a batsman playing in an Under-21 cricket match in England took the fielding side by surprise when he forcefully kicked a delivery through covers for a boundary. "I was seeing it like a football," he explained, causing Sunil Gavaskar to nod eerily in agreement.

Anand Ramachandran is a writer and humourist based in Mumbai. He blogs at
Any or all quotes and facts in this article may be wholly or partly fiction (but you knew that already, didn't you?)