(A day after Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar recorded his yet another feat in the cricketing history books, perhaps for his greatest accomplishments the whole nation is surely delighted, I thought of writing about it.)
If I trace back to my memories of Sachin;
I’d be around 5-6 years of age when my elder sister had told me of a player called Tendulkar who was so cute, in hers and her friend’s words. By then I was aware of my fondness for the game of bat and bowl. We referred it that way; the word cricket came into our vocabularies much later.
My father, a die hard cricket fan would like to say things in Panjabi about our cricket team and how we loose our matches to my Mum, I would be listening intently to all that cricketing gyaan. He would refer to Sachin as “Nava Munda” and this “Nava Munda” was a great hit in his friends circle. All my uncles after a peg or two would be like, eeh Munda bada utte jayega (this boy will go up). As a child I would always think that utte Jana means kothe utte Jana (meaning go to the terrace), that was a lill confusing for me.
Then there was a cricket match at our very own sector-16 Cricket Stadium, Chandigarh. I wanted to go but I had to go to the school so I never made an attempt to tell anybody about my desire. I knew I’d be snubbed out rightly. But in the evening while going to Sector-17 for a normal hangout with family I heard the presentation on the loudspeaker and it went something like this, “ The man of the match is Sachin Tendulkar”, after that for the first time in my life I heard the voice of a cricketing genius. It wasn’t anywhere near to Kapil Dev’s. When Kapil dev spoke in his husky manly voice one felt compelled to listen but here was our little master with his petite girlish voice. Anyways he had automatically become my hero then.
After that if it was cricket it was Sachin for me. I’d want to emulate him in everything. I’d die to watch him play for a few moments in the sports news on DD even the poor transmission would not hamper my joy. At that age I can’t explain the feeling but I think it was my first glimpse of inspiration. What followed was nearly a religious cult. I’d read the cricket news and I’d be looking for Sachin’s reference in any which way. And it wasn’t just me there were a whole bunch of us who would be passionate about the curly haired young man. My sister and I shared our almirah and she had put up a cut out of Sachin with his huge sunglasses on. I remember spending money that I got on Diwali to poster my wall with Sachin in his stance.
It was Century number one that was much hailed in the papers and magazines. Then there was just “The Tribune” and a Hindi magazine called “Dharamyug” for us in Chandigarh.
As time passed by India saw a sense of recognition in the world as a nation with a man who was referred to as the “best” by foreigners much more times than us Indians. I felt proud as an Indian when I used to see ESPN and Star Sports commentators say, ‘Sachin Tendulkar, world’s Best Batsman’.
He played like one too for a decade to come. No one was able to touch Sachin’s vicinity. He had created the sense of aggression in the Indian way of playing the game, that’s pretty evident in the way we play the game today.
One tour that I loved was the one of Australia’s. It was our summer vacations at school and nothing could have sufficed India’s hunger for cricket. With the required amount of poise, the Aussies were welcomed with Indian journalists doing there bit of statistics and research. It was Shane Warne who was touted as the main hurdle to the Indian Master. It was also reported that Sachin had been preparing for Warne’s welcome in his own special way. What followed was a rampage by the man who was ready to be crowned the King. My most enjoyable headline in the sports page was, “Mumbai Beats Australia”.
It was Just Sachin.
The tour saw rampage and assault in the cricketing way. The tests belonged to Sachin. Every time he stepped outside the crease to Warne, his face would be like the expression ‘how the hell!’
To his surprise Sachin had made it look so easy that the team members had followed him in hitting Warne for a straight six. Navjot Singh Siddhu was always a delight to watch but when he teemed with Sachin it was special. Even Nayan Mongia stepped outside to Warne for a six once. It was all so great.
A few would have predicted what followed; the tour of Sharjah saw Sachin actually taking India’s cause alone. With his sense of eagerness and execution one could feel that this man is no ordinary.
The famous “Sand Storm Match” is engraved in every Indian heart and will prevail for posterity.
I remember picking up the editorial special of the ‘Outlook’ magazine that carried the Master’s theme. In that there were articles from the cricketing greats like Sir Viv Richards, Sir Sunil Gavaskar and many more. They all described Sachin’s panache, his humbleness, his contribution to the game.
He was India’s first Mega Star Sportsman that the world looked up to.
Yesterday when I saw him hit those fifteen runs, especially the first ball after tea when he achieved the feat; it was a delight. I’m sure it was a joyous moment for everyone who loves sports, leave alone cricket fans. Every time he bats, there are at least a few billion expectations of him. And he has carried it with grace and honor, in fact enjoyed it.
Every time Sachin had an injury or just amplified his style a bit, the whole nation reacts in a regrettable manner. The wagging tongues thrive at that point. We as a nation can tolerate corruption, social evils, mind blocks, terrorism but we find it hard to digest a dent in Sachin’s performance. I guess it’ll take a few more ages for us to grow up.
For a cricket loving nation it is definitely a point of reckoning, a point where everyone is secretly happy if not proud. I think for Sachin himself a feeling of bringing joy to a billion lives all at once must be a satisfying feeling. For die hard Sachin fans like me it’s more of an honor and a sense of pride has prevailed if I may say so.