It took me quite some time to convince myself that I actually didn’t think Sachin was even close to being the best batsman in the world like a lot of his peers claimed, a lot of journalists wrote about and a lot of cricket fans debated on. In my books, over the last couple of years that mantle should clearly belong to Ponting and prior to that it was Lara’s. Barring the summer of 1998, Sachin never came close to claiming the mantle of the best batsman in the world. He would hang around and remind us of what he was capable of but never delivered.
While I do think, that as a cricketer ( and otherwise) he is a gentleman and a complete one at that, a lot of journalists, cricketers and commentators have allowed the nice boy image of Sachin to make up for his lack of supremacy to win matches for India.
In the same context, posted below is a piece written by V. Gangadhar for Hindustan Times today. Sometimes, there are things that you want to write and then you read something that describes exactly, what you think, in the exact diction and tone and sarcasm that you would have penned it in. And if it comes from one of your favorite writers, isn’t that a nice beginning to a day! : -)
Posted below the article:
AS THE third test match between India and South Africa was in progress, the Sachin Chamcha Group (SCG) in the television commentary box was frantic with excitement. Here is the chatter that went on:
Know-All Bhogle: And there is, Sachin, at 34, chasing the ball like a fly, diving full length and stopping it, saving one run. What commitment, what dedication. This one run could be decisive in the match. Why talk of Jonty Rhodes when we have Sachin. I am sure our Little Master Sunny Gavaskar would agree.
Little Expert Master Gavaskar: A great dive, a great save. In fact, you would have noted that Sachin dived at an angle of 63 degrees facing East, which is the most difficult of the dives. While doing so, he braved the wind from the North-east which was blowing across the pitch and he must have hit the ground with a velocity of 34 kmph. Simply remarkable for someone his age. The neck, the arms and the legs were perfectly positioned. A bit like watching Burt Lancaster in the movie Trapeze.
Bhogle: Leave it to Sunny to come up with such wonderful pieces of information. And Ravi?
Deadpan Ravi Shastri: Remarkable commitment, but then this commitment was always there, whether he was playing at Bandra MIG Club, Shivaji Park or a packed Lord’s. If there is a Nobel Prize for commitment, it should go to Sachin.
(Later, when Sachin is batting)
Bhogle: Yet, one more perfectly defensive shot played with the middle of the bat. Everything in position. Of course, though India should score enough runs to force a victory, Sachin had scored one run in 88 balls. Why bother about runs, when you can watch such perfect technique. Sunny, did you play like this when you scored 36-not-out in 60 overs in the 1975 World Cup match against England? That was the most monumental innings in one-day cricket.
Gavaskar: Thank you, Harsha, for your fantastic memory which is as perfect as Sachin’s defence. See the left shoulder thrust at right angles to the right wrist and the right shoulder pointing exactly at the vacant spot between mid-off and cover. This is the mother of all defensive shots, I would say even father. I think there is a deep strategy behind Sachin’s approach. By batting like this, he would induce sleep among the South Africans, and when they come to bat, they would just rub their eyes and get out one after the other. There is always planning in Sachin’s approach.
Shastri: I agree entirely. This again reflects his commitment — combined with wisdom, a rare combination. By remaining still like this, and keeping the score-board still, Sachin would make the clouds over the ground still, so that it will not rain and we can win the match.
Bhogle: Look, the South Africans are already lethargic which is what India wants.
(The match is over and India is beaten by South Africa)
Bhogle: That is all from the SCG. Please stay tuned in for ‘Cricket Tamasha’ special.
Viewers: What the hell we were watching till now?