Tuesday, November 19, 2013

To the Hero worth Worshipping - Sachin!

Much has been said about Sachin as he retires today from all forms of international cricket, and sure much will be said in days to come. The challenge often during such emotional outburst of national scale is that whatever you say has been said by somebody else. Its like the description of "God" as per various religions; amidst all the diversity, there is a definite thread of commonality. Well let me also join the club and try to pay my tribute to the "God" of Cricket (which might just be the biggest religion, world wide). 

What is so different about Sachin's batting?

Everything. Let me explain. 

Every time "little master" walked to pitch and took guard, its like seeing a bottle of raw aggression walking down, ready to burst open anytime; but when he does- those strokes are just pure art. Its just amazing how a classical punch from back foot have so much accuracy in timing and power that the ball races to the boundary, leaving behind a shell shocked bowler. It takes an amazing amount of audacity to cut a ball over the square for a six; and immense control to just take a single off the next ball which merited it. One match with South Africa specially comes to mind, in which Sachin had hit a square cut, and Johnty Rhodes retracted his hand and let the ball go. To hit a square cut on one of the fastest pitches, off one of the fastest bowlers at that time is simply outstanding; but for Johnty to retract his hand and let the ball pass; that got to be something else all together. And there are just so many of such moments in his legacy of 24 years. One thing which always has been common throughout is that- "rush". The "rush" you feel , when you race your car at 100-120 kmph over the sea link; even if it is for only 20 seconds, it just washes away all the frustration you had felt for last 30 mins stuck in traffic. His shots had that magical cure about them. It could delight any about any soul on this planet.

He was a great player but not a match winner?

If I had a dime for every time I heard it I would have had a bungalow in Bandra by now. So let me not get into stats which show, how off his 17 centuries while chasing, 14 were match winners.... etc.. etc.. Let me just ask you couple of questions :
Who do you think they (opposition) studied the most in dressing room?
Why does every bowler, on dismissing Sachin, gives an expression as if he has just won the Miss Universe Crown? 
And if you were to bet your life savings, on an indian side chasing a total, will you feel safer knowing Sachin is still not out? 
And last one: Name just one player, anyone, in any sport, who has done it over 24 years?
I think, you know the answer. 
Sports, like sales, often tends to be very result  oriented.17 times out in 90s doesn't add to a single century. Losing a match when you just needed 16 runs to win and had 4 wickets in hand is still a loss. What often gets missed out is that he was the reason, why we had a fighting chance in the first place. 
If you still disagree, just answer this : how many times have you switched off the TV when Sachin got out, had a smoke (optional if outside bengal) , swore under your breath and muttered - "ab sala cricket dekhna hi chod dunga !!"

There are many more players like Anand, Paes, etc. why him? 

India- Pak match, in any series, ( and I am commenting here purely basis public expectation and focus on that match) has only 1 acceptable answer - Victory. If you fail to perform, it doesn't matter if you brought the 1st World Cup to the country, please be ready to have the gates of your home decorated with 'gobar'. There is no other sport (including elections) which is under so much public scrutiny and which can instantly generate so much public hatred. It takes a herculean effort to play even "Ludo" with hopes of 1 billion people resting on your shoulders, let alone face bowlers throwing ball at 100 mph under flood lights, and 40,000 people chanting your name. I mean no disrespect to any of the greats like Anand or Paes or any other sports person for that matter, but the weight which Sachin has carried for so many years is frankly incomparable. Your professional - personal life, every second of your life and the lives of your immediate family becomes front page material. To have an image which Sachin has had is well unparalleled in the world of sports (including politics).

And there have been so many more questions- like why didn't he speak up when match fixing cases were found, why did he ask for Indian Govt to waive off the taxes over the car gifted by Ferrari, why did he have to join Rajya Sabha, why did he get Bharat Ratna, and the most often asked- Why didn't he retire any sooner? 
What I feel is the tragedy of leading the life of Sachin is that just about anyone, with any talent or no talent, with any amount of contribution to his own family (let alone the country), feel that it's his birth right to challenge and question and allege basis any half baked theory he has. Without having any proof or knowing what the other person has to say, we have opinion about his life and what he should have done. 

Life of a critique is so much simpler !

Why am I rambling off about all this? Today it really doesn't matter. 

Why did I start writing all this in the first place? 

For the last couple of days, I have been thinking of putting up something about Sachin , but just couldn't put words to my feelings. Whenever I think of Sachin a vague memory comes to my mind- me and Amit (my childhood friend) watching an ODI at his place. Its afternoon and Sachin is in the crease decimating one bowler after another. We were only celebrating in between deliveries;as soon as the bowler starts with his run up, we will be back in our exact position, lest Sachin gets out. I have prayed for his century more than I ever did for marks, fought with friends who have thought of Sachin as anyone less than "God", always hoped for miracles during 3rd umpire decisions, believed in him no matter what, in short I behaved plain stupid (much like people in queue outside Rajnikanth's movie theatre). Today as he walks out of that field that last link with my childhood years snap, and probably that's why this day matters so much. 

I can't thank him enough for the range of emotions he introduced me to or say enough how this sport will not be the same again, at least for me. I wish him many more inspiring years ahead, and I really hope someday I get to tell him in person- Thank You !