Sunday, November 25, 2012

Confessions of a drugged mind

“God, it’s killing me”.

Yes, I am under a heavy dose of medication recovering from a 104.4 fever (since records are all everyone cares about these days, let me add that this is my personal best recorded on a thermometer). Yes, I am aware of another Sachin failure today. But these are not my words. They were spoken by Federer after the 2009 Australian Open loss to Nadal. Here was a champion who had never been introduced to failure, suddenly finding himself grounded. He spoke the words and then broke down. The defeat - and the ones preceding that – had rankled him.

In sports, there is probably nothing more beautiful than watching a fallen great trying to regroup – trying to prove his relevance to the world again – despite all the risk to his 'legacy'. Federer did it. It will be fair to say he has justified his extended run – he won Wimbledon 2012, won himself an Olympics Silver, shot back at the numero uno spot – and PRESUMABLY (we can never say what goes inside the heads of great men) has conquered his ghosts – for the time being, at least.

Before Sachin got out today, I was sure he would choose this innings to finally come good - like I was sure in umpteen innings in the past. I was ready to bet my life on it - and more importantly even my faith. A failure promptly brought the retirement question out of the closet AGAIN (the question, of course, has its own keys to the closet – comes out at its own free will – sometimes never goes back). Now, please forgive me, but I can never be a neutral when it comes to Sachin. I’ve changed my stance on this matter with such a high frequency that as Andy Zaltzman had put it that it could be possible to broadcast a radio channel using it. So we won’t even take the path.

But other things have been bothering me. I confess to having ‘unliked’ his official Facebook page, being fed up of the corporate logos and offers being thrown at my face in the form of tees worn by Sachin and/or as captions adorning the bottom of the pictures. He has never given a miss to the IPL or the CL. But it probably doesn't matter. Hell, he is in a position to make money, why would he not do it. It never mattered to me that he was blocking a youngster’s place - was anyone worthy?. It never bothered to me that he is risking his legacy - isn't it HIS legacy after all?. But it matters when you have stories such as these to content with.

Ponting today said that he isn’t sure if he will be selected for Perth. It matters to me if Sachin shares the same fear. It matters to me if it has occurred to Sachin even once that his 100th ton MAY HAVE cost India the match and a shot at the Asia Cup. It matters to me if he later realized that the men on the street might 'not have taught him cricket', but are responsible for what he is today. It matters to me if his 'mortality' rankles him. It matters to me if his failures ‘kill' him.

I dread to know the answers. God, it might kill me.

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Mohit Parikh said...

Well written! Thumbs up!

Raghav249 said...

Well, let me give you the answers:

1. Yes, he has the same fear, in spite of knowing that a selector is yet to take birth who would have the courage to drop him. But he will retire the very same day when the selectors even think about it.

2. I still believe Sachin's 100th didnt cost us the game that day, have we not seen time and again with the Indian batting that the moment we lose a set batsman (Sachin on most ocassions) the rest of the line up falls like a pack of cards. India scored 289 with the help of his century which we should have definitely defended against a team of the stature of Bangladesh. But Dhoni unfortunately was motivated enough to make a point by making India lose everytime the great man made a ton.

3. Sachin said: "CRITICS haven't taught him cricket" and I stand by him by maintaining that they are definitely not the ones to be responsible for what heights he has scaled today. People on the streets (most of them) are still hopeful for a revival

4. His mortality... well... that's a very polite way of declaring that he no longer fits the Indian team. But before announcing that we should remember many such youngsters have faced the same "mortality" and have been able to fight back and come good.... take sehwag, yuvraj, raina, etc... and we shouldnt be so harsh on me just bcoz he took birth 4500 days before you did.

5. Yes, his failures kill him... he punishes himself vigorously for each and every opportunity which goes past him. But thats the nature of the man... He will rather kill himself than to see his team giving the match away as ransom to save his place in the side. This man has fulfilled all our wishes since we gained senses... i hope this remains unfulfilled.

Having said all that, I am well aware that this spitting of venom from your pen is a mark of deep greif which a hardcore Sachin expereiences every time he sees the great man grieved for his failures... Cant agree more on what you said in one of your last posts... Its not easy to be a Sachin fan... and you my friend are just facing its side effects...

Rahul said...

@Mohit - Thanks

@Raghav - Ohh how I was longing for a debate. How I wanted to be proved wrong. Anyways my two cents again:

1) Ohh don't tell me the selectors would never have thought of dropping him even once. Don't tell me the thought isn't in their minds NOW.

2) Agreed, the bowlers were horrible that day (they are on most days). But are you suggesting that a set batsman should never improvise in the slog overs because his exit might trigger a collapse? True we were playing minnows but it was early stages of a short tournament and NRR invariably has a part to play, so greater the margin of victory the better. Also may I add that India got to 289 only because 71 runs were scored off the last 6 overs after he got to 3 figures (ironically dhoni had a small part to play). I was never blaming only him for the defeat, just wondering if it played even a small part - i think I am convinced of the answer.

3) Sorry about that. He said that about critics and not the man on the streets. I guess I have been watching too much of Kejriwal lately.

4) Yes they have come back. Sachin himself had bounced back after his 2007 slump. It wouldn't please any one more than me if he comes back roaring. But what worries me what if the ET article i linked has even an iota of truth. What if the lure of the lucre is clouting his judgement about retirement?

5) Well he's not known for emoting much on or off the field so we'll let this pass. Plus it was my folly. Obviously no one would feel worse than the man himself.

Look dude. I still am a Sachin fan, a proud one at that. Will always be. One of the best pieces I have ever read on him is this one by Sharda Ugra: I often think if he has finally been consumed by 'the machine'. (His meeting the BCCI heads days before the 2011 World Cup to negotiate payment terms for the Champions League / the farce on his official facebook page / the ET article / his plea not to bring his finances under the RTI act / selling his ferrari which was a gift and cost the govt a great deal of money, etc etc). Plus, he never gave spiteful comments (albeit against critics) before.

It's not just the cricket, I revered him for much more. I don't want him to retire. But these things have irked me, and on this occasion got me to scribble it down in this blog. But as with his cricket, even this aspect has hope (he turned down the bungalow he was entitled to as an MP, didn't he? :) )

I hope we are still friends.

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