If the well-known songwriting duo Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings were cricket fans they would’ve added the line to their popular hit; “Mammas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys …or fast bowlers.”
On the same day Brett Lee announced the termination of his Test appearances in an attempt to prolong his cricket career, a sprightly Sachin Tendulkar was adding to his glittering reputation by amassing a spectacular ODI double ton.
Lee, a genuine fast bowler is 33. Tendulkar, a top-order batsman is closing in on 37. Life expectancy may have dramatically improved since the 1960’s but the medical advances don’t apply to fast bowlers; in his illustrious Test career Dennis Lillee bowled nearly two thousand more deliveries than Lee.
Tendulkar was in attendance when Lee commenced his 300-wicket Test career with a memorable bag of five at the MCG. The difference being, at that stage Tendulkar had already been around for ten years and scored a career worth of centuries, as he compiled his 22nd in that MCG Test.
A decade on and the batsman is still operating like a long-life battery while the fast bowler is rapidly approaching his use-by-date. Throughout his career Lee has displayed ample determination to recover from injuries. He always put in the hard work to ensure each comeback was successful, but in the end a serious elbow injury was one operation too many.
It’s amazing that with so many setbacks he played his cricket with a ready smile and never a snarl. At about the age Lee is now, it appeared Tendulkar’s spectacular career was winding down. A series of injuries had robbed him of much of the sparkle that made his batting stand out above all but Brian Lara’s.
However, by gaining a “second wind”, Tendulkar has shown he has a great desire to compete.
It’s not just the runs he’s scored but the manner of his run gathering. In his scintillating 175 against Australia and the double-century that demolished South Africa, his dominance stood out. Both innings rattled along at better than a run-a-ball and when he is regularly punching drives off the back-foot you know Tendulkar is master of all he surveys.
The urge to dominate, which defined his “little maestro” period, was replaced by a more tenacious Tendulkar in his 30s, but thankfully the urge to dictate has re-surfaced. Whatever had been dragging on his batting reins was released for those innings and the “little maestro” made a welcome reappearance.