“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.