The Genius, His Bat And The Records
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The Genius, His Bat And The Records

?When he goes out to bat, people switch on their television sets and switch off their lives.?

india Updated: Mar 24, 2003 12:05 IST

“When he goes out to bat, people switch on their television sets and switch off their lives.”
—BBC Sports

“His life seems to be stillness in a frantic world... [When he goes out to bat], it is beyond chaos — it is a frantic appeal by a nation to one man. The people see him as a God.”
—Mathew Hayden, Australian Cricketer

“In an over I can bowl six different balls. But then Sachin looks at me with a sort of gentle arrogance down the pitch as if to say 'Can you bowl me another one?'”
—Adam Hollioke, English Cricketer

“I'll be going to bed having nightmares of Sachin just running down the wicket and belting me back over the head for a six.”
— Shane Warne, Australian Cricketer

The above are only a few of the famous quotes you can find on the Internet about the genius called Tendulkar.

On 25 September 1998, Sachin Tendulkar, aged 25 years and 155 days, created a new world record when he scored his 18th ODI hundred against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo in his 191st innings and 198th match. In the process, he overtook Desmond Haynes' tally of 17 hundreds. Tendulkar currently has 28 hundreds to his account, nine more than his nearest rival, Saeed Anwar.

During his knock of 69 in the final of the ICC Knock Out in Nairobi, he overhauled Mohd. Azharuddin's record ODI aggregate of 9372 runs, taking 81 matches and 62 innings less than his former India colleague.

At Indore, against Australia on March 31 2001, Tendulkar drove Shane Warne for a single to long-off and went down as the first man to scale the summit of 10,000 runs in ODIs.

The above are only a few of the records of the master blaster that you can find on the Internet.

As if numbers were not enough, every time the man scores a century, he crosses a milestone. He is probably the only batsman in the world who has more ODI centuries to his name than his age. To carry it a little further it could be said that every time the little man scores a run in an ODI, a record is broken. He is a man who holds the records in his hand and breaks them at will.

Several articles have been written and tons of paper and loads of ink have been spent praising the young man. (It's amazing that even at the age of 29, Sachin still seems to be walking into the cricket battlefield with the same hunger for runs in his eyes that he had when he first stormed into the stadium to face the Pakistani pace battery of Imran and Wasim.)

He has been compared to the best in the game, and has become a legend much earlier than any mortal can even dream of. Some people are born great, others become great, but only a few get the best of both worlds. It is not just the records that make him stand apart from the other few players who have had the luxury of reaching anywhere close to him. Tendulkar's childhood friend, Vinod Kambli was equally, if not more, gifted and had achieved more than Sachin did during the time the two played together for the country. But there perhaps cannot be two swords in the same scabbard, and success probably came a bit too early for Kambli. Then, Tendulkar was also there, but he carried forward and has not swayed from his path. India had witnessed an equally superlative combination of Mahesh and Leander. But two minds take a lot to gel together, and the string of their successes was too much to take in. Both fell apart as a result of what is common among the lesser-known mortals: Ego. Tendulkar's success story has no shades of things common to the lesser mortals.

A lot has and will be written on whether he deserves the amount he is earning or whether the hunger for runs within him has extinguished. To answer the first question, let anybody in the country step in his shoes and get to even the records he has broken. Demi-Gods will come and go, but none will be able to reach the same pedestal where Sachin is comfortably positioned. The second question would well be answered by the time the World Cup is finished. 600-odd runs against all the bowling attacks in the world (in conditions not exactly sub-continental) speak volumes about his talent. The smile that makes zillions laugh all the way back home has arrived and is here to stay.

Being the only man who controls the mood swings of the public back home, and for all this pressure on his shoulders, he carries himself in the most dignified manner. His century would make the morning after the match pleasurable because the newspapers will carry his heroics; a failure, on the other hand, would start the day on a rather sombre note. Everything comes to a standstill to watch the little master, and the match for most people would end as soon as he leaves the 22-yard strip.

Don Bradman once said, “I saw him playing on television and was struck by his technique, so I asked my wife to come look at him. I never saw myself play, but I feel that he plays much like I used to. She too looked at him and said that there was a similarity between the two… technique, stroke production... it all seemed to gel!”

Bradman was not born in India. Had he been, the pressure of the idol-crazy public might have been a bit too much for him. During his career, he did not get to see the technology that is available now; if the technology was available then, the bowlers might have been able to find a chink in his armory. Furthermore, in those days the game was not as commercialized as it is today; if it had been, the money might have swayed him off his path. If I may say so, Tendulkar is India's answer to Bradman — the one who matters most to anyone.

First Published: Mar 24, 2003 12:05 IST