“In a gentle way you can shake the world”
-- Mahatma Gandhi
“Main khelega” said a squeaky voice from under the helmet covering the blood smeared face of a 5’ 6”body lying near the pitch. We’ve heard the story a hundred times from Sidhu (in an unmatched charismatic way that only he can manage), of how a 16 year old kid - who had no business being out of the comforts of school, leave alone facing the likes of Imran Khan, Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram at their fiercest bests in a cricket pitch – had refused to leave the ground despite being hit on the face by a Waqar Younis special. “Main khalega” – these are perhaps the two words which best sum up the hunger, sum up the attitude of the great man towards the game, during and even after 20 years from the incident. The world knew that the 16 year old had come of age.
Enough is already been written about him as he knocks off another milestone in his career. There are not enough superlatives to describe what he has done in these 20 years, so I will not even attempt to tread the path. But what amuses me, is, that despite all this, he could never please the critics enough. If the critics had had their way, he would never have made his debut at such a tender age. If the critics had had their way, he would have hung his boot by now. The world would not have known what they would have missed. For some time, he let the numbers do the talking on his behalf - 10K runs, 30 odd centuries. But after a certain point, perhaps even the numbers became so huge and unfathomable (and as meaningless as the age of “Baa” in the Indian television soap industry). Perhaps they should stop keeping track of his records and just employ the symbol for infinity and make the life of the statisticians easier. And by the way, the 20 years haven’t always been about the runs alone; but the manner, the precision, the style, the honesty and the simplicity with which he’s got them. It’s been about his flawless image; the fact that never once has he been involved in any tussle with the media or a team-mate or the opposition, any drunken escapade, any incriminating incident or any other spat that usually accompanies super stardom at a young age.
Margaret Thatcher once remarked that if her critics saw her walking on a river, they would say it was because she could not swim. The legend too, brought some changes to his batting style, at times adopting a more cautious, a more mature approach – cutting down on some of the aerial shots, cutting down on some of the flair. And people came up with theories of his reflexes betraying him. Mind you it was more out of choice than anything else; and one thing he did not cut down on, was class. Yet, as a reminder to his critics, he produced one of those innings time and again, as if taking it out from a shelf and placing it back there again. Aren’t we fortunate to have seen so many avtaars of the legend, each one special in its own realm, each one with genius written all over?
“ENDulkar?” screamed the headlines of the TOI after the Mumbai test against
In the gentlest possible way, he has made billions celebrate and cheer, he’s given them a reason to rejoice, and to cry - a reason to live; in the gentlest possible way he has made a mockery of bowling attacks, slaughtered their confidence, given opponents sleepless nights; in the gentlest possible way he has shaken the world. It is difficult to imagine what life would have been without cricket and it is impossible to imagine what cricket would have been without Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
P.S. – The quote by Gandhiji was used by the man himself to describe Harsha Bhogle, another legend in his own rights; but if anything, it fits seamlessly with Sachin.