Team losses are difficult to explain but Indian team defeats are attributed to players being distracted or unfocussed or just tired due to too much cricket. These might be excuses more than reasoned explanations but that is way it is.
Compared to teams, it is easier to deconstruct the results of individuals. Roger Federer is where he is because of supreme talent but it is no coincidence that he does not complain about the punishing schedule or the unending grind of international tennis. He enjoys what he does, and is thrilled to be the best in the business, not just another player who puts the ball across the net at Delhi Gymkhana.
A similar competitive mindset drives Sachin Tendulkar, a wonderful champion who has bettered every batting record in cricket history and set benchmarks for others to achieve. Today is the era of 20-20 cricket but Sachin has been the King of cricket for the past 20 years.
One reason for this awesome domination is, like Federer, he never stops running, does not get tired or complain about things beyond his control. With each passing year Sachin’s body has taken hits but after each injury he quickly returns to the park after necessary repairs. But, more than body, it is Sachin’s mind that holds the key.
While other greats want to get off the treadmill, unable to keep up with the demanding pace, Sachin is still enthusiastic about the net session the next morning. He is yet to utter a word about retirement and when asked this question only shoulders arms and smiles enigmatically. Clearly, he is in no hurry to pack his kitbag -- don’t be surprised if his name is on the Indian team sheet for a record sixth time in the 2011 World Cup.
Sanath Jayasuriya, 40, is another ageless marvel who has retired twice but is so fit the captain does not have to worry about hiding him in the field. Fifteen years ago Jayasuriya, redefined batting in limited over games by attacking from the start, when others were busy consolidating and protecting their wickets.
It does not matter whether they hit a red, yellow or while ball — champions keep running, and are united in their relentless pursuit of excellence.