The new serene face of Sachin Tendulkar, inspired by the same passion for batting and hunger for runs which he had at the beginning of his career, makes one almost believe that we may well see him score 20,000 Test runs.
The story of this cricketing marvel seems far from over. His double hundred at Colombo may not be among his best knocks, given the benign nature of the track, but it sure conveys that his commitment to his craft and his powers of concentration are as strong as they were when he made his debut.
But this column is not going to be a eulogy to the greatest batsman of our times. Nor is it going to explore the possibility of the highly talented Suresh Raina, in the wake of his stroke-filled debut hundred, becoming one of the future mainstays of India’s batting.
Every run scored or a wicket taken has a place in the context of a contest. The closer the contest, the more value runs and wickets have. What does one say about a match in which even a tail-ender looked capable of scoring a hundred and the best of bowlers couldn’t even beat the bat, let alone threaten to take a wicket?
What value do these hundreds have, except swelling the record books and averages? It is a shame that in this age and time, when we all fear that Test cricket could get obliterated from planet earth, we in the subcontinent continue to produce wickets where bowlers become redundant and batsmen can score runs even blindfolded.
All this leads, as this Test has, into a dreary, meaningless exercise, which forces spectators to keep away from the ground and their TV sets. Test cricket can be enthralling to watch if there is a proper balance between bat and ball and the wicket provides enough help to the bowlers so that the batsmen’s abilities are put to test. That there can be no substitute for Tests was amply proved by the Australia-Pakistan contest. In conditions favouring the seamers, the batsmen had a tough time, which made the duel between the two teams an enjoyable fare to watch.
Why do we in the subcontinent make wickets that make a die-hard cricket fan so frustrated that even he won’t mind the demise of his favourite game? There seems to be almost a conspiracy going which wants to finish the five-day game so that T20 becomes the only source of entertainment for the masses.
Left to me, the first thing I would do is to ban India-Sri Lanka playing each other for the next two years. And anyone producing a wicket where to dislodge a batsman is like breaking your head against a boulder, should be banned from hosting an international match forever. Otherwise, Test cricket in the subcontinent, will become a relic, very soon.