Any person establishes his mark through his accomplishments leaving behind an image for himself and to be called more than just by their names. We have seen almost everything from heroes to superstars to icons to role models and plenty more. In India, Sachin Tendulkar is someone who just cannot be singled out by any one of those names instead is a super set of all those. He is like an undiscovered chemical compound with a mixture of fame, power, authority, glory, money, critiques, controversies, laurels, tributes, victories, losses. But still today Sachin Tendulkar is an athlete running in a track event in shape of a circular paradox chasing behind his realistic controversies which he wants to shred but is being pulled behind by biased and selfish criticism that just keeps following him.
Unfair criticisms and outrageous thoughts in the form of ink and paper are like letters addressed to wrong individuals. They are better off left unattended but regulating controversies and issues are shredded letters which have to be unveiled to everyone. I would rather choose to pick up the shredded letters from the recently dumped dustbin of Sachin Tendulkar than to pay attention to letters wrongly addressed.
When Kevin Pietersen dictated terms and got mouthy about his cricketing schedule, ECB dropped him immediately for the next test even after his match saving innings of 149. In contrast, when Sachin chooses to alter and flexes his cricketing caledar, BCCI sincerely obliges. “He has served for Indian cricket for more than 20 years so he has the right to choose which series he wants to play”. Such comments follow paying due respect to Sachin and Board’s decision. I have never understood how an individual can be considered more supreme than the team. Unfortunately, it has been an everlasting scenario in the face of Indian Cricket. If you are going to automatically choose Sachin as the first on the list for the squad selection, it speaks of Sachin’s contribution, but when you are going to let him choose which squads he wants to get automatically picked, you are putting self above country. Until then Sachin will keep skipping ODI’s in the name of rest.
The 100th hundred episode was a classic. In the words of Sachin himself “When we were playing the World Cup, no one were talking about the 100th hundred, but then why after that”. But believe me Sachin would be even more surprised if that had not happened. The question he put up is worth asking and the question if he really meant to ask is also worth debating. How can a player skip an overseas tour? Sachin’s intentions were pretty clear that celebrating his 100th hundred at Lord’s( and thereby making it up to the honors board) would be more fitting than achieving it in the Caribbean islands. But unfortunately, a player can never write his own script. Bradman’s exit and Muralitharan’s exit are striking examples. What they had in common was that they never chose to accomplish a feat before leaving the green pitch for one last time. The grass was less green then.
As I was travelling in a train back home one evening, I suddenly heard the news of Sachin achieving the remarkable milestone at Dhaka. There was a sense of relief initially and then slowly turning into joy and bringing smiles but only later to be felt disheartened after India had lost the match. More than the loss, the aftermath of the match was very disappointing for a true Indian cricket fan. It was very shameful to see your country’s people and media placing an individual milestone ahead of a team’s defeat. The loss to a minnow was painful, looking at my team getting eliminated at the group stage of Asia cup was shocking but I could not digest the fact the media submerged the defeat with Sachin’s 100th hundred.
Few days passed and yet it was not over. Advertising agencies queued up for appointments with the milestone man. Sachin Tendulkar was suddenly talking to the press out of nowhere something which he never chose to during the embarrassment in the overseas tour or the Asia Cup humiliation. It was all about “a sense of relief”, “shedding 50 kilos”, “starting a new chapter”, ”toughest phase so far” but not a word out of scope of the 100th hundred. Few days later I had come across a piece written by Mukul Kesavan which is definitely worth a read titled “How not to close a great career”.
There is no doubt in my mind that Sachin Tendulkar is the best batsman there has ever been after Sir Don Bradman. He will be one of the greatest Indian cricketers ever. But his records and milestones are truly reflected in the stature of his way of achieving them and how he carries it later. It is truly unfair to call such a great sportsperson selfish but not to call him obsessed with records will also do no justice. The grace of watching my team lift a trophy gives me more satisfaction than an individual raising his bat. It has never been that I have liked Sachin less, but I have always loved Indian cricket more.