The cricket world almost sleepwalked through the Ahmedabad ODI and you could hardly blame them for it. After all, they were still reeling from the Tendulkar special in the second ODI. All established theories have been turned upside down. Seriously, has anyone who picked up a cricket bat and played all forms of the game done it better than he has? Nobody in modern sport has dominated for more than 10 years and here’s Tendulkar, who has been doing it for 20 years and counting.
You have to consider he lasted 50 overs, didn’t need a runner like Saeed Anwar did in Chennai in 1994, nor was there any semblance of a chance. It was flawless stuff from a genius.
A few seminal issues must also now be part of everyone’s forum. Twenty20 might have added more strokes in a batsman’s repertoire but Tendulkar’s masterclass in Gwalior was steeped in technical orthodoxy. Not once did he look to knock the cover off the ball. It’s a lesson for coming generations and suitably has come from a master. The game’s best has proved to be the best custodian of its heritage.
The innings must also bury this talk of seniors versus juniors forever. There is an added incentive for a Dravid or Laxman to put off their retirement plans by a few years. A whole new generation can now bloom under their tutelage and inspiration. There is no better insurance for Indian cricket’s future than this happening. When you see an Anil Kumble performing the way he did for Bangalore in IPL II last year, you feel a few of our best were put on racks much before their time had come.
There is little doubting now that the fire of excellence still rages at its brightest in Sachin’s heart. Every effort now must be made to ensure that there’s a structure around him that allows him to do so. In this most scientific and advanced era, Tendulkar needs better medical support and advice as well as nutritional sustenance to let his body not come in the way of further longevity. Let him redefine the age of 40 as the new 25.
Clearly the last 20 years must go down in annals as the Tendulkar Era. While it lasts, let us enjoy it to the fullest. And let us also hope that the saplings of the Indian team are suitably inspired by this Atlas and harbour ambitions of a more meaningful career.