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ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013

THE

SACHIN SUNSET


A TRIBUTE TO a glorious 24 YEARS. THANK YOU, SACHIN TENDULKAR


contents

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013

Themes 06 THE face BEHIND THE mask of sanity

By Dileep Premachandran | You could make out what Tendulkar was proud of, and what he would regret. But you would have to fill in the blanks for yourself

11 “My initiation into superstition”

28 timeline | By Nisha Shetty

Sachin Tendulkar: From start to finish

By R Kaushik | Anil Kumble on the tense lead-up to Tendulkar’s first hundred when the dressing room was more nervous than the 17-year-old

14 The Prophet who taught India how to win

By Shashi Tharoor | Tendulkar embodies the best of what India can be – a world leader whose achievements elicit universal admiration

18 The prospect of his absence

By Supriya Nair | He will no longer be there to enchant us back into childhood

24 A piece of our hurt By Saurabh Somani | When their favourite son was not well, the nation truly

60 nostalgia

Writers on their favourite SRT moment

wanted to know what was wrong with him

30 The match in which Waqar smashed his nose

By Salil Ankola | Even Sachin didn’t know then that he would score 100 centuries. But we knew he would play 100 Tests at least

33 I prayed for Sachin

By Mushtaq Mohammad | He was very likeable and asked me to help him fix his bat that had become too whippy

36 India were meek, but Sachin “just had that look” By Kritika Nadu | Matthew Hayden, John Wright, Sourav Ganguly, Muttiah Muralitharan and Alan Wilkins on Tendulkar’s greatness

40 “He meant so much to the common man”

52

pictures Tendulkar through a kaleidoscope

By Sidhanta Patnaik and Disha Shetty | Tendulkar has influenced countless lives and even shaped the careers of many

44 “No tantrums, soft spoken, never tough on people”

By Sidhanta Patnaik | Former teammate and friend Subroto Banerjee on how and why Tendulkar is who he is


Beyond the hundreds

Shaping legendary strokes

A profile of Tendulkar’s best below-100 scores in Tests and ODIs By Saurabh Somani | 46

The man who carves bats for Tendulkar on the batsman’s preferences By Kritika Naidu | 49

From the Wisden India archives 62

For love of the game

By Dileep Premachandran

Tendulkar’s blade may no longer be as sharp as a 16-year-old prodigy’s but he remains singular in the limits he continues to push 23 years later

66

A “little bugger who can play”

By Suresh Menon

There was no plan to play the 16-yearold in a One-Day International then; you didn’t throw teenagers into the deep end

68

Waiting for Sachin

By Lawrence Booth

Throughout the summer of 2011, England waited for Tendulkar’s 100th international century, but there was a sadness that went beyond the landmark when he failed

71

A hundred reasons to smile

By Mike Selvey

Twenty-one fruitless Test match innings and a dozen in ODIs before the 100th hundred. Sometimes even the gods manifest themselves as mortal for a while

76

Sachin, and the age of innocence

By Anjali Doshi

74

A to Z

Tendulkar’s first interview is a reminder of a time when players actually spoke their mind without fear of the consequences

By Dileep V | A colourful look at Tendulkar’s 24-year-long career

80 The wall of memory

By Tarika Khattar | In an age when the image, moving or still, is so essential to projecting memory, how will you remember Tendulkar?

83 The numbers prove his greatness

By Saurabh Somani | When Tendulkar was in the zone, it was all about his batting being in a rarefied air; everything else was merely incidental

Compiled by Manish Adhikary | Designed by Ashish Mohanty | All pictures published as part of The Sachin Sunset are courtesy of Getty Images, AFP and Wisden India Archive

The qoute-headers are from Sachin: Cricketer of the Century by Vimal Kumar


6 − The Sachin Sunset

The face behind the

mask of sanity

You could make out what tendulkar was proud of, and what he would regret. But you would have to fill in the blanks for yourself. He wouldn’t do it for you

Dileep premachandran

S

omeone once asked if I considered what

get inside their heads, especially when you spoke

sport. My answer was both yes and no.

guideline. I’d never know what it was to be ‘in the

I did for a living to be ‘proper work’. After all, I was being paid to watch

Most days, you were living a dream,

yours and thousands of others. But at other times, it was the hardest job in journalism. Unlike political

journalists and those that chronicled Bollywood, my beat, in those years, didn’t include a surfeit of sleaze and mediocrity. It was my job, as an ordinary Joe

with no pretensions to greatness, to try and make

sense of brilliance. For more than a decade, I was in close proximity to those that excelled. Trying to

to them, was incredibly difficult, because there was nothing in your own life that you could use as a

zone’, to accomplish such staggering feats, or to handle constant attention with such equanimity.

India’s politicians drive most of its citizens to

despair. In most cases, an election is a matter of

choosing the lesser evil. Our most talented actors

and actresses – think Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Tabu, without even venturing into non-Hindi cinema – are usually consigned to supporting

roles or offbeat movies that few watch. Those the


DILEEP PREMACHANDRAN

more than a player It’s unlikely that any other sporting great has shouldered the burden of expectation the way Sachin did, and that too for a quarter of a century.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013

7


8 − The Sachin Sunset

Sachin is not as flamboyant or as arrogant as Viv Richards even though Sachin has more ability.... He never displayed arrogance, something that Sunil Gavaskar did sometimes. Kapil Dev

media obsesses over are usually cardboard cutouts,

series against Australia. This gentleman, who I saw

celebrating those with such modest achievements,

It was Tendulkar’s third hundred in five Tests. A

without a smidgen of the talent that a Javier Bardem or a Meryl Streep possesses. In a culture intent on

the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman, Kumble and Sehwag truly were men apart.

Among them, Tendulkar was undoubtedly first

among equals. You could fathom that easily from the way the others spoke of him. For Sehwag, he was an

idol, the batsman he had always wanted to be. When Laxman, who batted so beautifully in tandem with him, talked of Tendulkar, it wasn’t just as a teammate.

Time and again, the fan in him would come out, and his eyes would sparkle as he talked of how quickly

Tendulkar picked length or how he could predict just what the bowler was going to send down.

In another man, such demigod status might have

caused barriers to be raised. But whether it was with

the other golden boys, or those that came along years later, Tendulkar never seemed to be anything other than one of the lads. It didn’t matter if it was a bowler like Zaheer Khan, or a promising batsman like Virat Kohli or Cheteshwar Pujara. They would all speak

of how he made sure they felt they belonged in the dressing room. He was a hero who was also a mentor.

It wasn’t just the young or those that knew him

that came under his spell. When I think of Tendulkar,

I often recall two old men. The first was at a press

conference in Chennai 12 years ago, after Tendulkar had made 126 in the third and final Test of that epic

only that one time, asked him how it felt to emerge from a ‘bad patch’.

lesser person would have come out with a cruel barb about the man’s hazy grasp of facts. But Tendulkar,

who looked at him respectfully while answering, put him down gently, merely stating the numbers and moving on. Often, humility is just a glib word thrown

haphazardly into sporting sketches. In this case, it was seen in action.

The second man, my grandfather, was my first

hero. I’ve come across very few people who were as learned or wise. But when it came to Tendulkar,

he too would lose his sense of perspective. When, in his late seventies, he fractured his leg, he insisted on the TV being moved to the room where he was convalescing, just so he wouldn’t miss Tendulkar’s batting on India’s first tour of South Africa.

Four years later, despite now being in his 80s,

he would insist on being woken up in the middle of the night when India toured the Caribbean. By then, Parkinsonism had taken over. But no matter how

tired he was, he would perk up when “Sachin” came to the crease. There were times when I joked that

he loved him more than he did his grandson. Other times, I was almost convinced it was true.

Even as his health failed, his spirit never flagged.

The only time I ever saw him old and defeated was the day India unravelled while chasing 120 for


DILEEP PREMACHANDRAN

victory in Barbados. Tendulkar was the fourth wicket

daily reality. For 24 years.

the game since he watched Jardine’s side in Madras

dearest friends did. Very few

to fall. Azharuddin and Ganguly remained, with 88

more needed, but my grandfather, who had followed while studying law there, asked me to switch the TV

off. He knew what would happen next, and had no desire to see it.

Has any sportsman carried a greater burden

for so long? Pele played club football for 21 years,

but only 14 of them were spent dealing with the

great expectations that went with wearing a Brazil

shirt. Muhammad Ali shouldered the weight of race

and civil rights politics, but within the ring, he was responsible for no one but himself. Michael Jordan spent his golden years representing a city with a population of two million.

Each time he went out to bat, as if he wasn’t

already aware, Tendulkar was constantly reminded that he carried with him a nation’s hopes. India

Expects wasn’t the title of some TV show. It was his

How could you make sense

of such a person? Maybe his

9

cricket comrades When Laxman (right) talked of Tendulkar, it wasn’t just as a teammate. Time and again, the fan in him would come out.

journalists got close enough to see behind the mask

that was essential for him to maintain his sanity. Without that little distance, that small bubble in

which to breathe, he may not have lasted more than two seasons.

Each time you spoke to him, you could scratch

a little beneath the surface, unearth a little more

information. But it was seldom enough to draw a

composite picture. The first time I interviewed him, I left thinking of what Greta Garbo, who spent many

years as a recluse after her days as a matinee idol,

had once said: “There are many things in your heart you can never tell to another person. They are you, your private joys and sorrows, and you can never tell

them. You cheapen yourself, the inside of yourself, when you tell them.”

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


10 − The Sachin Sunset

Tendulkar was much the same. He never

Even with Tendulkar though, you know that time

magnified his triumphs, or dwelt too long on the

will eventually have its way. As Wright Thompson

in the blanks for yourself. He wouldn’t do it for you.

flexibility. It means watching the accomplishments

failures. You could make out what he was proud of,

and what he would regret. But you would have to fill The only time I saw the guard down was the one

time we spoke on a fire escape at St. George’s Park in Port Elizabeth, after Chennai Super Kings had knocked his Mumbai Indians out of IPL 2. I won’t

forget the controlled anger, or the near-forensic account of all the lapses that had combined to make

the campaign a disaster. Those close to him had

often told me how much he hated to lose, even if it was a casual game of pool at 3am. That evening, with

a chill wind blowing in from the bay, I found out for

myself. Those 15 minutes off the record told me far more about the man than four full-length interviews that took in thousands of words.

As the years passed, the way the country

perceived him also changed. Once, he was the boy

wonder who could do no wrong. By journey’s end, he has become fair game for many. Some were irritated by his silence on cricket subjects great

and small. Others thought he had overstayed his welcome. Another group, ignorant of both his career

details and sporting history, constantly belittled his

achievements, especially once the team stopped being reliant on him for success.

Irked by this, his most passionate followers went

to the other extreme, behaving like the irrational

lunatics who comprise various cults. Any criticism

of Tendulkar was considered sacrilege. Players, journalists or commentators that dared suggest that

he was less than perfect would quickly be buried under an avalanche of contempt. He became yet another holy

cow in a country that already had too many, one more subject that couldn’t be debated without emotion taking over and logic leaving the room.

wrote in a superb profile of Michael Jordan: “Aging means losing things, and not just eyesight and

of your youth be diminished, maybe in your own eyes

through perspective, maybe in the eyes of others through cultural amnesia.”

What will we remember most? By the time he

raises his bat to the crowd for the final time, I will

have watched him play 79 Test matches. He already

had 80 caps by the time I covered my first. I watched 13 of his Test centuries live, and at least another 25 in real time on television. I was on live radio for

the BBC, and probably way more nervous than he

was, that Delhi afternoon when he surpassed Sunil Gavaskar’s record of 34 centuries.

But at end of it, all these years later, it’s not the

back-foot drives or the hundreds that epitomise Tendulkar for me. It was a ball he bowled in Multan

back in 2004. The final one of the fourth day’s play, it was a googly that bamboozled Moin Khan. Even

now, I can see the joy writ large on his face – the look

of a mischievous child who’d finally got the prim houseguest to sit on a whoopee cushion. Eight years later, when I mentioned it to him, I glimpsed the same expression. That joy, that childlike delight he got from playing the game, was Tendulkar’s greatness.

Once, when that Barbados defeat was mentioned,

I saw him wince. I did too, for other reasons. Over

the coming weeks, months and years, you’ll read and

hear many variations of “Ah, but he was so much more than just a player”. In this case, it isn’t hyperbole. He

really was – for teenagers, jaded 30-somethings and octogenarians alike. We didn’t know him, not really anyway, but it didn’t matter. For a quarter century,

he was there, at the forefront of our collective ‡ consciousness. I doubt he’ll ever go away. 


11

1990, Old Trafford: ‘My initiation

into superstition in international cricket.’

anil kumble relives the tense lead-up to Tendulkar’s first hundred when the dressing room was more nervous than the 17-year-old bent on saving a test match for india

R KAUSHIK

A

nil Kumble will not forget Sachin

Tendulkar’s maiden Test century, not necessarily for the obvious reason but also because it came on his own

debut, at Old Trafford in Manchester

in the summer of 1990. The first of 100 international hundreds to date was a match-saving effort, an

unbeaten 119 in a little under four hours that prevented India from going 0-2 down in the three-

Test series against England. India had been set an

unlikely 408 for victory and had been reduced to 109 for 4 when Tendulkar walked out to bat. That was soon

to become 127 for 5 when Mohammad Azharuddin,

the captain, was dismissed by Eddie Hemmings, the offspinner who also accounted for Kapil Dev not long thereafter. Nearly three hours of play was still left and India were looking down the barrel on the final

evening at 183 for 6 when Tendulkar was joined in the middle by Manoj Prabhakar.

As Prabhakar was to say later, it was Tendulkar

who did much of the talking and advising during their unbroken 160-run stand that steered India to safe

waters. Tendulkar was then all of 17 years old, and playing just his ninth Test.

“The first thing that readily springs to mind is that

we were desperate to somehow save the match, and

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


12 − The Sachin Sunset

No player is perfect, in that they can execute every shot in the book perfectly, but Tendulkar has no obvious weaknesses.... He is brave, fit and possesses a great desire to score runs. What more do you need? Angus Fraser

there still was a lot of time left when Manoj went in

knew the situation and he knew that he had to bat till

happened that has stayed with me for all these years.

to end up saving the Test, it was quite an experience.

to bat after lunch,” Kumble told Wisden India. “Sachin

and Manoj started to bat well, and then something Kiran More made sure early in their partnership that

no one should change their positions on the balcony

till such time that Sachin got to his 100 and we managed to salvage a draw. So for four hours, all of us occupied the same seats; it was my initiation into superstition in international cricket!”

What stood out for Kumble even then was

Tendulkar’s maturity, his poise, his unflappability

and his composure under tremendous pressure. “Everybody knew about his talent, everyone knew

what he was capable of. But even so, as a 17-yearold, to play the way he did was fantastic. At that

time, Devon Malcolm was frightfully quick, and Chris

Lewis could crank it up too. And then there was

Angus Fraser with his nagging length, giving nothing away. Sachin played them with the utmost ease.

“His driving on the up, off the back foot, was a

delight. To see a 17-year-old bat with such remarkable

authority was something else. The confidence with

which he went out, that made a deep impression on me. And then, when he spoke, he had that squeaky voice. In effect, when he spoke, he was a boy but when he batted, he was a man – fully accomplished.

“Sitting up in the balcony, you got the feeling that

he would not get out, that was the confidence he generated within his teammates even at that early

stage of his career. He was extremely compact, he

the end. For a 17-year-old to understand all that, go about his innings in the manner in which he did and I myself was only 19 then, but watching him bat that day, I quickly realised that I still had a lot of chinks in

my armour and I needed to make huge strides to be a permanent part of an international team but this

boy, he was already there. His fielding was very good,

he could catch well, he had a great arm, he could roll his arm over and he batted possibly the best in the team. To have those qualities at 17, just astonishing.”

Kumble said, watching from the sidelines, he

couldn’t make out if the young lad was nervous as he approached his hundred, though the team sure was

feeling the tension. “I guess we were probably feeling that. You could make out that he was fully in command of the situation, though I am sure he too must have

had some butterflies. But he just looked like he wasn’t

nervous at all. Now, that’s total control. And when he came back unbeaten with the draw secured, he had a

satisfied look on his face – satisfied that he had saved the game, satisfied that he had got his first hundred.

“What it did was also enhance our confidence as a

group. The general mood was that he was a 17-yearold who had saved a Test match, we must also stand

up and do something for the team. From being beaten in the first Test, we made England follow on in the last,

and were only thwarted because David Gower made a

brilliant 157 not out at The Oval. That was the kind of impact Sachin had on the Indian team even then.” ‡


R KAUSHIK 13

the first of a 100 Tendulkar pounces on an Angus Fraser delivery on his way to scoring a match-saving 119* at Old Trafford in August 1990.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


14 − The Sachin Sunset

The Prophet who

taught India how to win Tendulkar embodies the best of what India can be – a world leader whose achievements elicit universal admiration while being uncontaminated by braggadocio or triumphalism

ShASHI THAROOR

I

still remember the first time I heard about Sachin Tendulkar. It was New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1987, and on a crowded Calcutta

terrace, the freshly retired Sunil Gavaskar told me about a 14-year-old in Bombay who would

be the country’s next great batting star. I promptly wrote

about the conversation in a UK magazine, The Club Cricketer, and started looking out for mentions of the

prodigy’s name in the sports pages. I didn’t have long to wait for Gavaskar’s prescience to be confirmed: the

century on debut in the Ranji Trophy when Tendulkar

was just 15, and then selection for India, against the fearsome pacemen of Pakistan, at all of 16 years of age.

The announcement, 24 years later, of his

imminent retirement marks the end of an epoch. The greatest Indian to ever wield a cricket bat – and

possibly one of the greatest in the history of the entire sport worldwide – leaves when he completes a mind-

boggling 200 Test matches, to go with 463 One-Day Internationals. His departure has thrown the country into a paroxysm. Television channels, newspaper and magazine columns and editorials, social media, have all waxed eloquent on the occasion; cricket fans can talk of little else. As a nation of 1.2 billion people

has been riveted by the impending departure from the national sporting stage of a 40-year-old, is there


SHASHI THAROOR 15

anything left to say?

The hyperbole has already been vented. “I have

seen God,” said Australian rival Matthew Hayden. “He

bats at No. 4 for India.” Another cricketing immortal, Shane Warne, when asked who was the greatest

batsman he’d played against, replied: “First, Sachin Tendulkar. Second, daylight. Third, Brian Lara….”

In a land where 605 million people are below

the age of 25, Tendulkar’s unusually lengthy 24-year

career – he was such a gifted prodigy that he made his debut for India in 1989 – has dominated their entire

consciousness of a sport that is a national obsession. He owns almost all the important batting records in

the international game, including most Test centuries and most ODI hundreds, and he has done so while

carrying the expectations of a billion people every time he strides out to bat.

The passion for cricket in

India is difficult to exaggerate,

perfection pundit Tendulkar showed India how to celebrate individual merit and revel in the unusual distinction of boasting the world’s best at something the whole nation followed.

but Tendulkar elevated it into

something more. His success became emblematic of

India’s own rise to assertion on the world stage. When Tendulkar made his debut for India in 1989 at the age

of 16, it was still a developing country, seen by much of the world as poor, backward and protectionist. In 1991, India liberalised and embarked on a quartercentury of galloping growth that averaged 8%. The

world beat a path to India’s door. Our democracy,

proliferating television channels, software experts

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


16 − The Sachin Sunset

Sachin should be used as an international ambassador for cricket. His own personal ethics towards his industry and its people should be maximised for the continued healthy growth of the game. Peter Kirsten

and burgeoning English-speaking middle class all

and the emergence of a fresh and inspiring sense of

reinvention coincided with Sachin’s rise. India rose,

in niche sports like billiards and chess, Tendulkar’s

changed the country’s image and led pundits to hail

it as the next major world power. This period of selfand so did Sachin.

The diminutive batting star became India’s

cricket colossus. A nation that had long been used to

lagging behind, whether in economics or sport, now boasted the world’s best batsman and went on to

become world champions again, 28 years after our

first triumph. The No. 1 ranking in both Tests and ODIs is no longer an impossible dream: we have held

both, at different times. Television revenues from the growing and increasingly prosperous Indian

audience have transformed India’s place in world

cricket too: today some 80% of the global game’s resources are generated by India. As a result, in the

cheerful words of a senior BCCI official, India is to the International Cricket Council what the USA is to the UN Security Council, the one country that all

other members find indispensable – and impossible to ignore. Tendulkar’s 24 years in top-flight cricket eerily mirror the transformation of India at the cusp of the 21st Century. There is an Indian Dream, and in his own lifetime, Tendulkar is its Prophet.

Just as impressive statistics alone are an

incomplete

and

inappropriate

assessment

of

Tendulkar, the story of India in the last 24 years

is not merely a table of numbers and graphs. It is a story of the transformation of a national psyche,

a coming renaissance. In a country previously used

to sporting mediocrity, with world champions only triumphs will serve as a benchmark and a lodestar for many years to come. But they go well beyond

the runs he made or even the way he made them.

Tendulkar matters to India because – visibly, on our

television screens and our living-room conversations

afterward – he embodied the essence of a new way of being Indian.

Tendulkar has shown a nation often divided by

religion, language, caste and ethnicity how to dream

that common dream. Not only did he transcend the heritage of a stratified and under-achieving society; his is truly also the story of the coming of age of

the Idea of India, and its assimilation of the most

enduring export of the West to the world – modernity and the idea of the rational, autonomous individual, substantially capable of shaping his own destiny. For

too long, we had accustomed ourselves to accepting failure in sport, making “it was not meant to be” into

the most Indian of excuses. Tendulkar showed that

we could change outcomes through the combination of talent, application, hard work and practice. By

breaking free of the shackles of pre-ordained Fate,

he ended the habitual expectation of failure, and allowed India to celebrate merit and its rewards.

In a land too long in the thrall of fatalism,

Tendulkar‘s prowess on the field promoted India’s


SHASHI THAROOR 17

own new assertion of self-belief. Tendulkar

showed India how to celebrate individual merit and revel in the unusual distinction of boasting

the world’s best at something the whole nation

followed. He helped Indians forget the bad news

around us – sectarian strife, riots, terrorism – and rally round a common cause. He taught

Indians, used to being second-best, to win.

Democracy has long been the major force that

has served to unite India, by assuring every Indian, irrespective of background, a stake in

the country’s success. For two decades, and for exactly the same reason, there’s been another force for Indian unity: Tendulkar.

The India of 1989, when Tendulkar first

donned the national colours, was a land that had thus far belied its promise of a “tryst with destiny”.

The India of 2013, when he bids farewell to his playing career, is a nation that, despite recent

economic setbacks, is brimming with optimism

and sometimes impatient expectations of a better future.

Tendulkar, therefore, is much more than a

sports star. The Indian government has named

him to the upper house of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, in a seat reserved for cultural icons. Given

or controversy in a sport that has been laden with

speak on any public issue with a moral authority that

remains modest, soft-spoken

the admiration in which he is held and the hold he has on the allegiance of the Indian people, he could

very few could rival. If Tendulkar wants to use his position as a member of the Rajya Sabha as a bully

pulpit to advance his vision of India, he could have a significant impact on public life.

He may not do so: outspokenness is not a

Tendulkar

characteristic.

In

these

two-and-a-

half decades of national adulation, commercial

endorsements and worldly success, Tendulkar has managed to remain uncontaminated by scandal

examples

of

both.

Fame

has not turned his head: he and self-effacing. He embodies

the great adhesive Tendulkar has shown a nation often divided by religion, language, caste and ethnicity how to dream that common dream.

the best of what India can be – a world leader whose

achievements elicit universal admiration while being uncontaminated by braggadocio or triumphalism. In

hailing Tendulkar, India hails a symbol of what we, as ‡ a nation, collectively aspire to be. Shashi Tharoor is a Member of Parliament and

former United Nations Under-Secretary General

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


18 − The Sachin Sunset

The prospect

of his absence he will no longer be there to enchant us back into childhood

SUPRIYA NAIR

T

he children were always there in

Shivaji Park — young, grim, working metronomically on

swinging back,

crouching, blocking and adjusting their

stances against the oncoming efforts of

their small colleagues and coaches. Like caricatures of genteel expectations of cricketing stoicism, they spoke

little, and mostly in scowls; ready to die, as Wendy says of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan, like English gentlemen.

From time to time, as the water from the sprinklers evaporated in the heat, a fine, sifting red dust would begin to rise in drifts.

When I worked in Dadar, I walked around

Shivaji Park sometimes to watch these dustbowl

tableaux, a few dozen of which are always going on simultaneously, and wondered what it would take to make these boys happy. Was their single-minded

pursuit of cricket a symptom of their childhood, or a

denial of it? Would they remember these days fondly if they ever made the Test team of one of the world’s

most competitive sides? Would they pause long enough to crack a smile if an IPL contract dropped

softly on their ducked, sweating heads? Or was this the bloody root of Bombay cricket’s notorious khadoosi — not the smiling grit that seems to implant

itself in so many graduates of, say, the Australian


SUPRIYA NAIR 19

dream come true Tendulkar was, in the most immediate ways, marginal to the World Cup win. But then the question of what he could do for his people had long been answered, too.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


20 − The Sachin Sunset

Nobody has ever come close to him and there is no question of comparing anyone with him. He is the best ever; there is no Ponting and no Lara, and not even Sir Don Bradman; Sachin is simply the best. - Sourav Ganguly

domestic system, but the jealous rapacity of the 40-

proved more than capable of sustaining the most

You think of cricket idly, and with an ironic distance,

when he played; that buoyed as he was at the crease

time Ranji victor?

I thought these things with a certain remoteness.

when you have expatriated from the country of sheer joy and cringing terror where you dwelt

when you were a child, feeling your heart swell as it fought its way, delivery by delivery, over by over, to

an uncertain fate in match after match. That is what

Sachin Tendulkar recalls for men and women who

grew up – regardless of how old they were – watching him, and that, perhaps, is the overwhelming regret of

his impending retirement. He will no longer be there to enchant us back into childhood.

Perhaps few other cricketers have earned the

moral and emotional earnestness which Tendulkar

evoked, even as a teenaged prodigy. There have been, at all times, at least ten other men on the

field with him, ready to absorb the burden of those thundercloud emotions, but few others for whom

they were held so closely in trust. Apart from a brief

moment at age four or five when I was overwhelmed by the certainty that I would marry Imran Khan one

day, I have never known cricket without knowing

that kinship with Tendulkar. I remember him and Vinod Kambli, almost from the beginning, a sort

of composite, aspirational alter-ego – the best, the boldest, the most dexterous we could hope to be.

Something was irretrievably lost to Indian cricket as their paths began to diverge, but Tendulkar alone

optimistic fantasy anyone has ever experienced in

Indian sport. We thought he carried us with him by the shouts and cheers of millions, there was no

difference between us and him; and because of him, there were no differences among any of us.

An apparent lack of poetic ambiguity in

Tendulkar’s game makes it difficult for amateurs

to deconstruct the synthesis of flair and discipline that went into his comprehensive, bullying sort

of domination. More so than with his other, more specialist colleagues, the emotions responded to

his presence before the intellect did. When the brain caught up, his quantifiable successes made a

wonderful, if unimaginative refuge for his fans. He elicited awe and wonder because, even on the days his body failed and bowlers showed up his usually

uncanny vision, there was something about him which

could not be gainsaid. Even through the dispiriting

days when the lights faded over alien stadia and his unsubstantial tenor, piping acknowledgment that his

India had made mistakes, there was no doubt that,

with him at least, failure was temporary. Over time, that unanswerable thing became clearer and clearer.

It was a clear and relentless hunger; the desire to “bat and bat and bat,” as Gideon Haigh wrote, and as he fed it, he fed us, too.

It seems strange that he was loved so much in

spite of such an unlikeable quality. But hunger is the


SUPRIYA NAIR 21

tear jerker ‘The 154 at SCG in 2008 epitomised the spareness of the older Tendulkar, sinews and cockles exposed by his injuries.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


22 − The Sachin Sunset

one aspect of genius which can be

cultivated, acquired and nurtured and practised. Now that I think

about it, the dutifulness of the boys

in Shivaji Park, playing in shifts from seven in the morning to seven at

night, makes perfect sense, because if all that misery can set you, even one among thousands, to grinding that mill, with your blood in the

wheat, then it has set something in you in motion for all time.

Tendulkar was young for a very

long time – wasn’t it Allan Border

who, after Sharjah, said, “Yes, but imagine what he’ll be like when he’s 28”? – but ageing, too, for a great many years. We have said many impatient things about athletes who do that before our eyes. But they

are, in reality, a vital resource. I have a smug theory that female fans are vastly better equipped to absorb

the shock of seeing their male sports idols grow old, since our gender circumvents the arrogance of selfidentifying too closely with them. But to propound it I must forget that Sachin disproved that, too. Back

home and watching a Test match for the first time

in months in 2008, I sat transfixed by his 154 at the SCG against Australia, an innings that epitomised the

spareness of the older Tendulkar, sinews and cockles

exposed by his injuries. He bared his head slowly on achieving the century, the manner of a man receiving

a blessing, and tears pricked my eyes as it dawned on me: So that’s going to happen, too.

When you love and place your faith in sport and

in a sports team, even the air around you can make your skin burn. I don’t think I am the only person who,

uncomfortable with the depraved political economy that governs cricket, unwilling to participate in its

rituals of macho patriotism, had by the 2011 World

Cup victory, said a provisional

goodbye to the country where cricket can do that to you. I

did not wish to be repatriated simply because India had a

shivaji park slog His exit will leave behind an imaginary homeland, hovering slightly above the ground, like the cloud of red dust that rises from a cricket field on a hot day.

World Cup, to add to all that it

had already acquired in the new millennium. Tendulkar

was, in the most immediate ways, marginal to that victory. But then the question of what he could do for his people had long been answered, too. What remains

from that night at the Wankhede – the stadium where

his own crowd once booed him off the field, and where he will have his last bow – are the voices of his younger

teammates. Of Virat Kohli saying, he carried us for years, now we’ll carry him; and of Suresh Raina, before

the semifinal, saying in words what Tendulkar said to

those who watched him every day for two decades: I am there. So he has been. So, after him, will remain the country that erupted in fireworks around him that night; an imaginary homeland, hovering slightly above

the ground, like the cloud of red dust that rises from a ‡ cricket field on an evaporatingly hot day. Supriya Nair is associate editor at The Caravan magazine


23

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Incisive Analysis

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www.wisdenindia.com H o m e o f I n d i a n C r ic k e t

Wisden India

@WisdenIndia

Download Official Android Mobile App: wisdenindia.cricket

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


24 − The Sachin Sunset

A piece

of our hurt When their favourite son was not well, the nation truly wanted to know what was wrong with him

SAURABH SOMANi

I

f you ask any physiotherapist or trainer, they’ll

probably agree that of the various disciplines in cricket, fast bowling takes the heaviest toll

on the body and batting the lightest. Then you look at Sachin Tendulkar’s career, all 24 mind-

boggling years at a time when more high-intensity cricket is played than ever, and you wonder about the exceptions to the rule.

“Any long career has its challenges, but you’re

right that batting in itself is probably the least

physical activity in cricket that you do,” said Rahul Dravid, who knows a thing or two about the strain batting can take on the body. “Still, repetitive batting

for such long periods of time in so many years is going to have a wear and tear on your body and Sachin Tendulkar will be no different. He’s had his

share of injuries, operations and surgeries. It’s been remarkable to see how he’s been able to keep going.

It requires a special love and passion for the game to keep playing through, because it’s not going to

be easy. It’s not going to be easy for him to get to

that level of fitness nowadays. So for him to keep maintaining that and still wanting to go out knowing

fully well that his body is not the body it was ten or 12 years ago, shows that he truly loves the game.”

Tendulkar’s career is remarkable not just for its


SAURABH SOMANI 25

cynosure of all eyes “When Tendulkar gets injured, the whole of India gets an anatomy lesson” is how Andrew Leipus described the attention that Tendulkar’s injuries would fetch.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


26 − The Sachin Sunset

The secret of Sachin’s seemingly tireless body is simple. Because he knows the game so well, he knows exactly what he has to do in order to prepare for it. Knowing one’s abilities and limitations is a good gift. - John Gloster

length but as Dravid said, his ability to return from

But as anyone who saw the uninterrupted highlight

John Gloster, who was the Indian team’s

while batting. There might have been slightly lesser

serious injuries and continue to maintain fitness for as long as he has played.

physiotherapist through 2005-2008, had a ringside view as Tendulkar overcame what possibly was his

most serious injury, the tennis elbow, and emerged stronger. “In the case of Sachin, he had a couple of

well-documented injuries as we know: the elbow

operation and the shoulder operation during my tenure with the cricket board,” said Gloster. “Both of

which he recovered from fantastically. But there were modifications that he had to make during a certain period of time to overcome that and ensure it didn’t

re-occur. It was a matter of limitations in things like throwing and fielding positions – things like that for a short period of time. In a match situation and in training.”

It was Andrew Leipus, Gloster’s predecessor

as the Indian team physiotherapist, who provided the outside perspective of a Tendulkar injury while declaring that “when Tendulkar gets injured, the

whole of India gets an anatomy lesson”. This was

after every injury was dissected, diagnosed, cut, quartered and healed in televisions and newspapers across the country. When their favourite son was not well, the nation truly wanted to know what was wrong with him.

When not at his physical best, Tendulkar’s batting

also underwent changes, which was but natural.

reel he dished out from mid-2007 to mid-2011 will attest, once he was fit, he no longer looked laboured daredevilry than earlier, but that had nothing to do

with injury, and more to do with team requirements, naturally changing styles in addition to the natural

desire to keep himself injury-free. Tendulkar shook off the after-effects of injury well and Gloster said that by looking at him in match and training, “you

wouldn’t know he’s had to overcome serious injuries and surgeries”.

Gloster agreed that batting was the least

physically taxing discipline, but pointed out that the

length of a career like Tendulkar’s involved unique challenges that batsmen don’t normally have to face.

“I do know, myself having crossed 40, the body

behaves very differently than it does when you’re 25 or 30,” explained Gloster. “Especially when you’re

physically stressing it in demanding conditions such as we have here in the subcontinent. As you get

older, things like tendon tissue and muscle tissue do change. You don’t adapt as well to loads or accept

forces as well, and you recovery processes are slower. “You are subject to different stresses, like long

periods of concentration, long periods of batting in the sun and the heat. So endurance becomes a really important thing. When you talk about cricket, it’s not

just batting, there’s 24 years of fielding there as well, standing at slips, sprinting around. There’s 24 years


SAURABH SOMANI 27

of training, of travel. So you have to look at it as a complete picture.”

What helped Tendulkar was that

alongwith with his incredible talent to time a cricket ball and his passion to

perfect the art of batting, he had the

physical attributes necessary to cope with long periods of stress.

Gloster illuminated, “Biomechanically,

he has a structure that is less likely to

get injured, because he’s more compact, has shorter levers, more muscle bulk

around joints – things like that. So he’s able to protect himself a lot better than

perhaps someone who is a lot taller, and

leaner and more flexible. He’s also very powerful, so he has a great advantage

there too. It has made him more durable as well, this ability to absorb loads better

through his joints and his strength around them. I believe he’s quite strong around the crucial areas, like lower back, knees, things like that.”

In addition, Tendulkar has been a very

smart trainer, knowing what limits to push

when, and what load his body needs in the lead-up to a season. Gloster advocated a

longer build-up, more graded training

and intensity, and added that physically, if

his body was taken care of properly, “there was no reason his batting would be affected”.

For a long time his batting wasn’t affected,

and Tendulkar had shown he could come back

spectacularly from injury as well, which could have

been among the reasons he played on in spite of his form tailing off at the end of the career.

But in addition to his accomplishments on the

field, the sheer physical task of lasting for so long

against so many setbacks is

equally

praiseworthy.

Blessed with a dead eye, unbelievable balance and a

voracious appetite for runs and

perfection,

Tendulkar

completed the package by

the health secret “He’s more compact, has shorter levers, more muscle bulk around joints,” says Gloster. “So he’s able to protect himself a lot better than perhaps someone who is a lot taller, leaner and more flexible.”

packing in the mental and physical attributes that

could allow all of these elements to flourish together ‡ for two and a half decades.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


DEC 14: GETS A BLOODY NOSE NOV 15: AFTER BEING HIT BY A TEST DEBUT WAQAR YOUNIS VS PAKISTAN BOUNCER IN KARACHI AT AGE 16

NOV: HAMSTRING INJURY MISSED: WEST INDIES TOUR OF INDIA (7 ODIS)

1990

NOV-DEC ANKLE & FINGER INJURY MISSED: TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND (FIRST 4 ODIS OF 7-ODI SERIES)

JAN 4: COMPOSES A DETERMINED 241* VS AUSTRALIA IN SYDNEY, ABANDONING THE COVER DRIVE IN A BID TO REGAIN FORM

S ENC HIT VS A IND

MIS IN ( S

AUG-OCT: TENNIS ELBOW MISSED: VIDEOCON CUP TRISERIES IN HOLLAND, NATWEST ODI SERIES VS ENGLAND (3 ODIS), CHAMPIONS TROPHY 2004 & AUSTRALIA TOUR OF INDIA (FIRST 2 TESTS IN 4-TEST SERIES)

10,000 RUNS

1999

DON BRADMAN TO TENDULKAR

2005

2003

2002

2000 2001 JUL-AUG: TOE INJURY MISSED: COCA-COLA CUP TRISERIES IN SRI LANKA & TOUR OF SRI LANKA (3 TESTS)

“I DON‘T THINK YOU WERE COACHED, BECAUSE ANYONE WHO’S BEEN THROUGH COACHES IS TOLD TO PLAY WITH THE LEFT ELBOW POINTED TOWARDS MID-OFF. YOU DON’T DO THAT. I DIDN’T DO THAT.”

FEB-MAR FINISHES 2003 WORLD CUP AS HIGHEST SCORER WITH A TALLY OF 673 RUNS. HIS 98 VS PAKISTAN IN CENTURION, WHERE HE UPPER CUT SHOAIB AKTHAR FOR A SIX, WAS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS

FEB: THIGH INJURY MISSED: ZIMBABWE TOUR OF INDIA (5 ODIS)

JUL 23: IS PRESENTED A FERRARI BY MICHAEL SCHUMACHER FOR EQUALING BRADMAN’S 29 TEST CENTURIES

JAN 31: SCORES 136 VS PAKISTAN IN CHENNAI IN THE FOURTH INNINGS, DESPITE BACK PAIN, TO KEEP INDIA’S CHASE ON COURSE, BUT HIS WICKET TRIGGERS A COLLAPSE AND INDIA FALL SHORT BY 12 RUNS

2004

MAY 23: SCORES 140* VS KENYA IN BRISTOL DURING THE 1999 WORLD CUP, JUL 22: DEDICATES IT TO HIS REAPPOINTED AS FATHER WHO PASSED CAPTAIN OF AWAY DURING THE INDIA, BUT FINDS TOURNAMENT MAR-APR: ROLE STRESSFUL. CHRONIC BACK PAIN ANNOUNCES MISSED: PEPSI CUP RESIGNATION ON TRISERIES IN INDIA FEB 20, 2000 & COCA-COLA CUP TRISERIES IN SHARJAH

DEC 13: DUCKS TO AVOID BEING HIT BY A GLENN MCGRATH DELIVERY DURING A TEST VS AUSTRALIA, ONLY TO BE DECLARED OUT LBW BY UMPIRE DARYL HARPER

SCORES CENTURY ON DULEEP TROPHY DEBUT TO ADD TO DEBUT TONS IN RANJI TROPHY AND IRANI TROPHY

DEC 18: ODI DEBUT VS PAKISTAN IN GUJRANWALA, MAKES A DUCK

5000 RUNS

OCT 30: SCORES 217 VS NEW ZEALAND IN AHMEDABAD, HIS FIRST DOUBLE CENTURY IN TESTS

RUNS WITH VINOD KAMBLI FOR SHARDHASHRAM VIDYAMANDIR IN THE HARRIS SHIELD

AUG 14: SCORES 119* VS ENGLAND AT OLD TRAFFORD, HIS FIRST TEST CENTURY, TO DRAW THE MATCH

1989

1988

START

FEB 23-25: SCORES 326 IN A MARATHON PARTNERSHIP OF

SCORES 57 TO SAVE THE SIALKOT TEST & THE SERIES

1991

28 − The Sachin Sunset

H

S R

MAY: WRIST INJURY MISSED: IPL (5 GAMES)

2013

TESTS ONE-DAY INTERNATIONALS TWENTY20S INJURIES

NOV 14: BIDS ADIEU TO TEST CRICKET AFTER HAVING BECOME THE FIRST CRICKETER TO PLAY 200 TESTS

50,000 RUNS

GUIDE

FINISH

By Nisha Shetty

CAREER TIMELINE

ANNOUN FROM OD MATCHES & 49 CENT W

of


DEC 23: NCES HIS RETIREMENT DIS, HAVING PLAYED 463 S, SCORED 18,426 RUNS TURIES, EACH OF THEM A WORLD RECORD

2008

2007 SEPT: TOE INJURY MISSED: TOUR OF ENGLAND (5 ODIS) & CLT20

MAY 14: MAKES HIS IPL DEBUT AS ICON PLAYER OF MUMBAI INDIANS, VS CHENNAI SUPER KINGS IN MUMBAI

AUG: ELBOW INJURY MISSED: TOUR OF SRI LANKA (5 ODIS)

JAN: HAMSTRING INJURY MISSED: TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA (LAST 3 ODIS IN 5-ODI SERIES) APR 2: ACHIEVES CHILDHOOD DREAM OF WINNING THE WORLD CUP, DEFEATING SRIL LANKA IN THE FINAL IN MUMBAI; IS INDIA‘S LEADING SCORER IN THE TOURNAMENT WITH 482 RUNS

SACHIN TENDULKAR

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013

1995

DEC 15: STEERS INDIA’S CHASE OF 387 VS ENGLAND IN CHENNAI, SCORING 103* TO SEAL A FAMOUS WIN SOON AFTER THE RECENT MUMBAI TERROR ATTACKS

1994 MAR: ABDOMEN INJURY MISSED: TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND (LAST 2 ODIS OF 5-ODI SERIES)

2010

MAR 16: BECOMES THE FIRST CRICKETER TO SCORE 100 INTERNATIONAL CENTURIES, MAKING 114 APR-MAY: IN THE ASIA CUP VS FINGER BANGLADESH IN MIRPUR INJURY MISSED: IPL (4 GAMES)

DEC: KNEE INJURY MISSED: HOME SERIES VS PAKISTAN (3RD TEST ONLY IN 3-TEST SERIES)

15,000 RUNS

DEC 1: BAGS 1 FOR 12 & SCORES 10 IN HIS ONLY T20I, VS SOUTH AFRICA IN JO’BURG

2012

DEC 22: HITS 35TH CENTURY VS SRI LANKA IN NEW DELHI, GOING PAST SUNIL GAVASKAR’S RECORD FOR MOST TEST CENTURIES

APR-JUL: GROIN INJURY MISSED: TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA (LAST 2 TESTS IN 3-TEST SERIES), IPL (7 GAMES), KITPLY CUP TRISERIES IN BANGLADESH & ASIA CUP

2011

MAR-JUN SHOULDER INJURY MISSED: HOME ODI SERIES VS ENGLAND (7 ODIS) & TOUR OF WEST INDIES (5 ODIS, 4 TESTS)

2006

AUG-OCT: TENNIS ELBOW SSED: INDIANOIL CUP TRISERIES SRI LANKA, TOUR OF ZIMBABWE (TRISERIES, TWO TESTS) & ICC SUPER SERIES IN AUSTRALIA (3 ODIS)

SEPT 9: SCORES 110 VS AUSTRALIA, HIS FIRST ODI CENTURY

2009

AUG 8: NAMED CAPTAIN OF INDIAN TEAM, BUT IT PROVES TO BE A CROWN OF THORNS. GETS SACKED ON JAN 2, 1998

MAY 24: MARRIES ANJALI

12,000 RUNS

1996

MAR: BECOMES THE LEADING SCORER IN 1996 WORLD CUP WITH A TALLY OF 523 RUNS

1997

1998

WITH SIX RUNS TO DEFEND, TENDULKAR CONCEDES ONLY THREE

MAR 27: OPENS FOR THE FIRST TIME VS NEW ZEALAND IN AUCKLAND, AND A 49-BALL 82 LATER, HE MAKES THE POSITION PERMANENTLY HIS

APR 1: LEADS INDIA TO A WIN VS AUSTRALIA IN KOCHI WITH APR 22: A SPELL OF 5 FOR 32, HIS A BELLIGERENT 143 FIRST FIVE-FOR OFF 131 BALLS VS AUSTRALIA IN ODIS IN SHARJAH IN THE BACKDROP OF A SAND STORM HELPS INDIA QUALIFY FOR THE FINALS

APR 24: SHARJAH GETS AN CORE AS TENDULKAR TS 134 IN THE FINAL AUSTRALIA TO HELP DIA WIN THE COCA COLA CUP

f

1993

FIRST OVERSEAS CRICKETER TO BE SIGNED ON TO PLAY FOR YORKSHIRE

1000 RUNS

1992

NOV 14: FIRST BATSMAN TO BE DECLARED RUN OUT BY THE THIRD UMPIRE, VS SOUTH AFRICA IN DURBAN

FEB 3: HITS 114 ON A PACY PERTH PITCH VS AUSTRALIA IN THE FIFTH TEST

29

FEB 12: NOV 24: SCORES 165 VS BOWLS INDIA TO VICTORY ENGLAND IN CHENNAI, IN THE LAST OVER OF THE HIS FIRST TEST HERO CUP CENTURY AT HOME SEMIFINAL VS SOUTH AFRICA IN KOLKATA

FEB 24: HITS 200* VS SOUTH AFRICA IN GWALIOR, BECOMING THE FIRST BATSMAN TO HIT A DOUBLE CENTURY IN ODIS

MAY: MAY: SCORES 618 HAND INJURY RUNS IN IPL MISSED: NONE, 2010 TO TAKE PLAYED IPL FINAL MUMBAI INDIANS DESPITE SPLIT TO THE FINAL WEBBING


30 − The Sachin Sunset

The match in which Waqar

smashed his nose

Even Sachin, I am sure, didn’t know then that he would score 100 centuries. But we knew he would definitely play 100 Tests, at least

SALIL ANKOLA

O

ur

careers

started

off

almost

simultaneously. Both Sachin and I made our first-class debuts in 1988,

and then made our Test entrances in Karachi the next year. Before that,

during the 1988-89 Ranji Trophy, we were set to

face each other because he was from Bombay and I was with Maharashtra. I was really looking forward to playing against him because he had already built

such a reputation around him. We had never seen each other, so it was exciting. The first time I saw him, and bowled to him, was in the Ranji Trophy game in Aurangabad in January 1989. I got a couple of

wickets there, and Sachin scored a half-century (81).

Of course, we have played together and against each other many times since.

Everyone was talking about him, even before

he scored an unbeaten century on his Ranji Trophy debut. People were also talking about me, because I had picked up six wickets, including a hat-trick, in my debut game against Gujarat. I obviously can’t

compare myself to Sachin, because he was already touted as the next great thing in Indian cricket, but I also had

a decent reputation. Then came

the Pakistan tour. We were both

in elite company The team for the 1989 tour of Pakistan was packed with stars such as Kapil, Azhar, Shastri and Srikkanth.


SALIL ANKOLA 31

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


32 − The Sachin Sunset

Sachin will remain amongst the top three batters I have watched. For pure technique and for effortlessly shouldering the burden of more than a billion people day in and day out. - Shaun Pollock

young. He was only a kid. It was an extremely tough

and got a half-century. He became more determined

Azhar (Mohammad Azharuddin) … and Imran Khan,

everyone knew. That he would play 200 Tests and

tour. All the heroes we had heard of were there – Kapil (Dev), (Krishnamachari) Srikkanth, Ravi (Shastri), Javed Miandad and Salim Malik for them.

Off the field, everyone was very warm. But on

the field, there was a lot of barracking; the fans were very emotional. It was like a ground full of people against us. But that sort of thing also charged us up.

But neither Sachin nor I had very memorable debuts in Karachi. I, of course, never got a chance to play Test cricket again, but that’s another story.

Whenever you play for your country, there are

butterflies in your stomach, which settle only once you start playing. It’s just nervous tension and you

need to get it out of your system as soon as possible. The seniors didn’t speak to me much before the game.

Ravi was the only one to speak to me. He supported me a lot on that series. I don’t know how it was for Sachin, but he was very nervous. Of course he was.

The Sialkot Test was a memorable one. I had torn

a muscle in Faisalabad and couldn’t play the next

two Tests, but the fourth Test was played on a very

grassy pitch in Sialkot. I was fully fit, but still didn’t

get picked, while Mani (Maninder Singh), who was picked instead, was given just one over to bowl in the Pakistan innings.

That was the match in which Waqar (Younis)

smashed Sachin’s nose. We were all so scared. Everyone remembers how Sachin continued batting

when things went against him.

I knew he would make it very big. Not just me,

score so many runs, of course, no one could predict.

These things have happened over the years. Even Sachin, I am sure, didn’t know then that he would

score 100 centuries. But we knew he would definitely play 100 Tests, at least. There was always an aura around Sachin, even as a kid.

When we went to Pakistan, he was a baby, but

he had the mind of a 100 year old. He has always

been wise beyond his years. He was so mature in his batting even then. I don’t think he ever repeated

mistakes. The more you try to drag him down, the stronger he gets. They tried to rib him in Pakistan, saying things about how young he was, but he only became more determined.

I played with him off and on for the Indian team,

but we got close when I shifted to Mumbai from Maharashtra. We were also colleagues at Sungrace Mafatlal, and played together for them.

He always gave it his best – whether playing

a Test match or for Sungrace. He never relaxed. Sometimes you don’t want to risk injuries when you are playing for your office or club, but he was always 100 per cent. That still hasn’t changed.

Salil Ankola, who played one Test and 20 ODIs for India, spoke to Shamya Dasgupta


33

I prayed for

Sachin

He was very likeable and asked me to help him fix his bat that had become too whippy

Mushtaq Mohammad

M

y old friend, Sunil Gavaskar, told

me before India’s tour of Pakistan

in 1989 to look out for this child prodigy who he felt would one day be ‘a wonder of the world’.

From that moment on, I took a special interest in

Sachin Tendulkar. I was myself once regarded a child prodigy, having made my Test debut at 15.

Because of that connection between us, I have

followed his career with great interest over the years and have even prayed for the lad at times. I always wanted him to do well.

But back in ’89, I was especially curious to take a

look at the young boy after Sunil’s endorsement, as I wanted to compare him to myself at that age, and to another who was my protégé, Javed Miandad.

And after seeing him in that series and then on

the England tour in 1990, I concluded that Sachin

was the best child cricketer I had seen. I knew he was going to have a big career.

The way he handled himself against Wasim

Akram, Imran Khan, a young Waqar Younis and the

brilliant Abdul Qadir was very impressive. Pakistan had one of the best bowling attacks around, yet his technique was and always has been immaculate.

I met him properly for the first time on the 1990

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


34 − The Sachin Sunset


MUSHTAQ MOHAMMAD 35

He is made of the right stuff. It’s in his genes: he has the maturity and good sense to acknowledge all the adulation with calm modesty. Perhaps deep down, he knows that it is only a game. - David Frith

tour of England, when India

played a warm-up match at Smethwick. He was very likeable

and asked me to help him fix his bat that had become too whippy. I was amazed how heavy that bat was, for such a small boy!

Now, as he prepares for his

200th Test, I congratulate him on a remarkable achievement and I

am pleased he is retiring on his own terms rather than waiting for the tap on the shoulder.

People have asked me many

times over the years who I rate the best out of Sachin and Brian Lara, and it’s a question that is not

easily answered. Each have their own merits. Sachin obviously has

many records to his credit and his longevity has been sensational,

though Lara has maybe won more matches for his team while playing in an inferior batting line-up.

Mushtaq Mohammad, the only

it, but overall he has so much to be proud of. Garfield

Tendulkar achieved the feat at

Sachin would maybe rue the fact that he never

cricketer younger than Tendulkar

Sobers remains the best cricketer I have ever seen,

the age of 17 years and 107 days

scored a Test triple-century, as he had the talent to do

to have scored a century when

but I thank God that he kept me alive long enough to ‡ witness Tendulkar’s 25-year career. 

in August 1990, spoke to Richard Sydenham

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013

genius duo Sachin obviously has many records to his credit and his longevity has been sensational, though Lara has maybe won more matches for his team while playing in an inferior batting line-up.


36 − The Sachin Sunset

India were meek, but

Sachin “just had that look” matthew hayden, john wright, sourav ganguly, muttiah muralitharan and alan wilkins on tendulkar

kritika naidu

O

n November 14, 2013, when Sachin Tendulkar walks out to play Test

cricket for the last time on his home turf at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, it will be the culmination

of many childhoods. The day will, incidentally, mark his completion of 24 years in international cricket – the

longevity being testimony to his love and commitment towards the game.

It is easy to get carried away by his long list of

batting records, but the number of cricketers who’ve

played Test cricket for India with and after him is enough to validate why he generates the kind of

frenzy that he does across India. Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, two of Tendulkar’s contemporaries

who made their debut after him, are well into their retirement. Some of the cricketers, who will carry

him for a lap of honour after his last Test, were infants when Tendulkar made his debut in 1989.

The appreciation for Tendulkar however, isn’t

just restricted to India; it’s universal. So much that it is believed, an Australian fan once came to the ground with a placard that read: “Commit all your

crimes when Sachin is batting, because even the Lord is watching.”

The first decade of Tendulkar’s international


KRITIKA NAIDU 37

career coincided with Australia’s dominance in

be sincere, hardworking and very dedicated. He has

awe of it. Matthew Hayden, the former Australian

“I think it was in 2003 when I told him he could

world cricket, which is why those who saw him make a century at the WACA in Perth in 1992 are still in

opener, made his debut a good five years after Tendulkar. In terms of age however, Hayden is a lot older. But, when he talks about his first impression of Tendulkar, it is easy to see the dynamism he thought Tendulkar brought to the team.

“The first time I saw Sachin was in 1991-92. My

first impression of him was that he was incredibly small; he was just tiny for his reputation which was building at that stage,” Hayden recollects. “It wasn’t

really full-fledged, but it was certainly building. His

bat seemed wider than Sachin himself. He treated Australia with a fantastic summer of cricket. Most

times as well, India was a meek and mild-natured sort of a cricket team. It had guys like Kapil Dev in

the side which was phenomenal, but it didn’t really have that kind of punch required to win in Australia.

Sachin was just that – he just had this look; that stature and aura that came with his presence that brought confidence into the side.”

Two years before the century in Perth, Tendulkar

missed out on being the youngest centurion in Test history on New Zealand soil. He was out caught

by John Wright off Danny Morrison on 88. Heartbreaking for a 16-year-old, you’d think. A decade

later, Wright and Tendulkar would share the same

dressing room, scheming against the common enemy in the capacity of a coach and a senior player, respectively.

“I first saw him as a rival player when he was

just 16. I interacted with him a lot when I was the India coach and then as the Mumbai Indians coach – it has been a pleasure working with him. The best

part is that Sachin hasn’t changed since he was 16

in his approach towards the game. He continues to

kept it simple. He is the same old Sachin – a great person and a tremendous cricketer.

score a hundred hundreds. It was just a matter of simple arithmetic, looking at the number of runs he

was scoring every year and the number of years he had left. I thought it was quite obvious. I have seen

him closely for years. Youngsters can learn from him. He still looks keen and fresh.”

While Hayden and Wright echoed the views of

many former players and coaches, Alan Wilkins, an illustrious commentator who has followed

Tendulkar’s career from the commentary box for

years now, brings in a completely offbeat dimension to the insights.

Wilkins, like everyone else doesn’t perceive

Tendulkar as just a virtuoso. He recognises the art

within the game instead, and has a different outlook. “I first saw Sachin in 1996. I have always felt that he

has been the grand artistic architect of everything he has set out to do with his bat. In his mind, he has

known, because he has plotted, designed, imagined

and visualised every innings he has played. He has his own parameters, he knows how to work within

them and he knows how to deliver from within them. “For me, two innings best illustrate this: the 2003

ICC Cricket World Cup against Pakistan at Centurion

when Shoaib Akhtar tested every facet of Tendulkar’s skill and courage. 98 from 75 balls launched India to

a win over their great rivals, but, importantly, it was Tendulkar’s method that set the tone that Pakistan from the outset.

“Secondly, in 2004 at the SCG, Tendulkar fashioned

a double century that answered not only his critics, but also his own doubts, as to his contribution to

the Indian team on that tour of Australia. Up to that

Test he had struggled on the tour, and this innings

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


38 − The Sachin Sunset

He stands proudly for India and plays with his heart on his sleeve for the pride of his country. Not many people can have that position in a country’s psyche! - Brett Lee

demonstrated the sheer willpower of his mind to

When Tendulkar is the subject of discussion,

contribute to India’s cause at the expense of his

leaving out the views of one of the world’s greatest

a man for all reasons.”

has enjoyed many successful battles against the spin

natural ability to entertain.

“Tendulkar is not just a man for all seasons; he is Steve Waugh, the former Australian captain, who

was known for his grit and fighting spirit knows all

about the pressures of playing a cricket game. So much that he goes one step further in recognising and acknowledging the pressure and expectations

that Sachin carried in every game that he went out to play for India.

“It is very amazing just to think that Sachin has

been there for over 20 years on the top. That is

hard enough to do in any cricket side, but I think it

is doubly hard to do it when you are representing India and you are out there and 1.2 billion people are

watching and praying on every move that it is going to be positive. So to handle that sort of pressure you have to be mentally very strong. And I think he compartmentalises very well, so he can put things

in boxes and figure out things and concentrate on the job at hand. But at the same time his love for

batting is very important, he loves to score runs, he has got the unquenchable thirst for making runs and hundreds. He tends to relax between the balls pretty

well. So he has caught almost the unique focus where

he can concentrate for that split second when he has to and then he can tune off and that helps him bat long periods.”

spinners and the highest wicket-taker in Test history – Muttiah Muralitharan – would be unfair. Tendulkar

wizard, and Muralitharan sums it up best when he says the only way out against a rampaging Tendulkar was hoping he would commit a mistake.

“I was very impressed by Sachin when he was

very young; he was a very attacking batsman. And after that he became a great player and now he is one of the best players in the world. I don’t think

anybody will ever be able to break the record of 100 international hundreds.

“I have played against him and I must confess it

was really tough to bowl against him. You can’t find

weaknesses in Tendulkar because he is perfect when it comes to batting. And we can only hope that on

a particular day he does something wrong, and we can capitalise. Tendulkar has no weak area where you can bowl to, but human beings make mistakes

and we sometimes hope he does that too. But the best thing about Sachin is in how he has his feet on the ground. I think it is the most important thing

because however successful you are, you have to be humble. Sachin is humble. That is the way of life and that is how things come to you.”

Nobody sums up Tendulkar’s parting better than

Sourav Ganguly, the former Indian captain; someone Tendulkar had remarkable success with as an opener,


KRITIKA NAIDU 39

wiz compliment “Tendulkar has no weak area where you can bowl to,” says Muralitharan, “but human beings make mistakes and we sometimes hope he does that too.”

a great friend, teammate and someone Sachin

one of the best. He will always be the champion he

One-Day Internationals and set the trend that would

the adulation he is getting; it’s the right send-off for

played under. Ganguly and Tendulkar together

changed the dynamism of batting for openers in later be matched, if not bettered, by the likes of

Hayden and Adam Gilchrist or Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

“For me it doesn’t matter whether he gets

a hundred or not in his final Test; he will still be

is. He has made the right decision, going out on a high at his home ground. He deserves every bit of a champion. While he would have been celebrating in South Africa, all of this that has happened in Kolkata and that will happen in Mumbai

wouldn’t have happened. I am happy he is going on ‡ his own terms.”

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


40 − The Sachin Sunset

“He meant so much to

the common man” Tendulkar, by virtue of his actions on and off the field, has influenced countless lives and even shaped the careers of many

SIDHANTA patnaik and DISHA SHETTY

A

loke Shetty is an ad filmmaker who follows

cricket

religiously.

His

Facebook profile picture is of him wearing a pullover of the Indian cricket team. It is not that but his

snap with Sachin Tendulkar that has garnered him more likes. He spent close to an hour with Tendulkar before

the 2011 World Cup and has not grown tired reminiscing the joy of that day.

“I could not believe it when I was asked to

direct Nike’s advertising campaign for the Indian team,” says Shetty. A country where reverence for Tendulkar is unmatched, a chance to work with him has its own set of complexities. Stage fright could

make the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity count for

nothing. Such moments require mental preparation.

Shetty was understandably flustered. “The day before the shoot, I was nervous just thinking how to direct one of my lifetime idols.”

He found his rhythm back through his body of

work. “I revisited my old assignments and calmed myself. Next day, I woke up with recharged batteries,”

remembers Shetty. “It was chaotic at the set but

suddenly there was a collective silence. I turned around and Tendulkar was standing behind me.”

“He trusted my abilities and agreed for many

retakes. That settled me down.” Prior arrangements had been made to capture the day. “As a production


SIDHANTA PATNAIK AND DISHA SHETTY 41

fan following “In 2011, I skipped a close friend’s wedding in India to travel to England and watch Sachin in the Lord’s Test. I have already applied for leave to be in Mumbai for his 200th game,” says Nitin Bajaj.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


42 − The Sachin Sunset

We have this running competition between ourselves in the Bangladeshi team to see who can get him out so that we can talk about it years later when we all have quit the game. - Shakib Al Hasan

gimmick, I purposely rotated around Tendulkar and

“I belong to a generation who have Sachin to

my assistant director clicked many pictures. Those

thank for not only being a role model, when there

indirectly. The individual bonds he has built over 25

Tendulkar’s status as a positive icon and his deep

are my lifetime possessions.”

Tendulkar has touched millions directly or

years of mastery can be measured in the freshness that the anecdotes retain even after innumerable retellings.

“He kept his promise,” recalls Vaibhav Garg, who

clicked a picture with Tendulkar in Delhi during the

2012 Indian Premier League. “When I approached

him, he was busy and asked if we could do it after the match. Next day he fulfilled my wish.”

This story starts in mid 1988. Sam Panchamukhi

read about Tendulkar for the first time in a national

magazine after his unbeaten 664-run stand with

Vinod Kambli for Shardashram Vidyamandir in the

Harris Shield semifinal. A little later, in January 1989, Nitin Bajaj heard him speak to Tom Alter on television.

Around the same time, in Mumbai, his father through the newspaper enlightened Rahul Teny about their city’s new boy wonder. Dr. Sumanta Chakraborty was

just nine years old when Abdul Qadir was hit for four sixes in one over in an exhibition match.

Today Panchamukhi, Bajaj, Teny and Chakraborty

hold strategic posts in their respective domains. Tendulkar remains the sole link in their chaotic

transition from childhood to adulthood, a familiar branch, whose growth gave initial identity to many and helped them track their own progress.

weren’t any, but also for giving us a sense of selfconfidence about ourselves,” observes Bajaj.

desire to win struck Panchamukhi, who started his career around the same time as the 1989 Karachi Test, the most. Today, like Tendulkar, Panchamukhi has an exemplary portfolio. He was one of the

creative minds behind the 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2011 ICC World Cup ceremonies.

For Teny, Tendulkar influenced the choice of his

profession. “As a kid, he motivated me to give my best and was the accelerant in my decision to join the sports marketing industry as far back as 1998.”

Chakraborty, vice-president of a national bank,

has refused to grow up when it comes to his favourite cricketer. “I am so absorbed with Sachin that even

today I am intolerant to any criticism against him and pick up fights with people easily.”

Like Chakraborty, priorities remain fixed for

Bajaj. “In 2011, I skipped a close friend’s wedding in India to travel to England and watch Sachin in

the Lord’s Test. I have already applied leave to be in Mumbai for his 200th game.”

Tendulkar has grown to be a tree of wisdom and

each of his innings has edified many. “I was at the

SCG when he scored 241 without a single cover drive. After that I cut out waste work at job and focused on

my strengths,” notes Lagnajeet Pattanayak, who lived


SIDHANTA PATNAIK AND DISHA SHETTY 43

Aloke shetty

in Australia for a while. Sumanth DS, an entrepreneur

her birthday with the little

Yogesh Gandhi started to back his abilities by

“I always use products that

with multiple interests, has learned the importance of teamwork from Tendulkar’s hundreds in lost causes.

observing the work ethics of a 40-year-old Tendulkar.

At 32, he started running and recently completed a half-marathon in Pune.

Amrit Mishra went home from the middle of a

haircut to see Tendulkar attack Pakistan’s bowling in

the 1998 Independence Cup final. Mishra no more

basks in reflective glory and today leads a diversified life. He has a day job in Hyderabad’s IT sector, reads

literature, goes on road trips for fun and has trekked to the Everest base camp. “Tendulkar has driven home the importance of adapting to changes and I have implemented it in my life.”

While experience has made Mishra logical, Niyanti

Verma, a 22-year-old girl from Agra, who shares

master, considers Tendulkar

to be an extension of herself.

are endorsed by Sachin.” Then

work worship “Tendulkar trusted my abilities and agreed for many retakes,” says Aloke Shetty who shot an advertising campaign with the Indian team.

there is Leon Samuel, a BPO

employee, who energises himself during long hours on the shift through Tendulkar’s sketch, drawn by him, fixed over his workstation.

Zenia D’cunha was at the Wankhede Stadium

for the 2012 England Test when Tendulkar got out

cheaply and she grasped the essence of the story. “The North Stand became silent. Grown up men started crying thinking that it was his last outing at home. He meant so much to the common man.”

The last day at home is not far away. That will

end a habit for those whose age was defined by ‡ Tendulkar’s time on the field. 

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


44 − The Sachin Sunset

“No tantrums, soft spoken,

never tough on people” Former teammate and friend subroto banerjee on how and why tendulkar is who he is

sidhanta patnaik

F

or Subroto Banerjee, 1989 brings back

memories of a friendship that is one of his cherished possessions. His impressive bowling performance for Bihar had earned

him a call-up to the Rest of India squad for

the Irani Trophy game against Delhi. The match is best

remembered for Sachin Tendulkar’s unbeaten 103, after which he was selected for his maiden tour of Pakistan.

Though Banerjee did not play the game, the occasion formed the genesis of his bonding with Tendulkar.

“It all started in 1989 when he came to bat at the

MRF pace foundation, and during the Irani Trophy

our friendship just clicked,” reminisces Banerjee,

currently engaged as the coach of Jharkhand. “After I got selected for India, the tour of Australia was for

five and a half months. Then we were in South Africa and Zimbabwe for three and a half months and went

to Sharjah too. So, you can imagine the amount of time we spent during those days.”

Dennis Lillee had once famously said that if he

had to bowl to Tendulkar then he would do that with his helmet on. Lillee had actually bowled to the little master once and it was when Banerjee saw Tendulkar

for the first time. “Sachin requested Dennis Lillee and Vasu Paranjpe to face Lillee after the end of regular

nets at the MRF academy,” remembers Banerjee. “We


SIDHANTA PATNAIK 45

remembers how that unbeaten knock of 148 uplifted

the dressing room’s confidence. “Their bowlers were quick and bouncing us but his positivity stood out.

Ravi (Shastri) got a double-hundred but Sachin’s innings was an eye-opener,” he says. “It told us that

if you are a big-hearted player, have high ambitions then circumstances can never be a limitation. That innings inspired all of us.”

Banerjee feels that it is Tendulkar’s mentality

that kept him going for 25 years in the international

circuit. “His first priority has always been to see how

his score can help the team. That is why he got runs consistently for so long.”

Also as a human being, away from the public

gaze, he has remained grounded. “He is the simplest cricketer you can ever think of,” says Banerjee. “Leave aside cricket, just as a person he is awesome. Easily accessible, approachable, no tantrums, soft spoken, saw him smash Lillee, who first bowled from four paces. After

that Lillee requested for his spikes and pumped in really fast.” Tendulkar

clean image “He is the simplest cricketer you can ever think of,” says Banerjee of his teammate from the 1992 tour of Australia.

continued

without any fear and that left an impression on

Banerjee. “The cute little boy amazed us with his footwork. The moment he tackled Lillee, one of the best in the business, we straightaway knew that he would soon be playing for India.”

Banerjee, four years older to his friend, was also

astonished by the young boy’s maturity. “I used to

pick his brain a lot. Even those days, when he was young, there was clarity in his answers. He was aggressive and never spoke negatively.”

It was in Banerjee’s debut Test match at Sydney

in January 1992 that Tendulkar became the youngest

cricketer to score a century in Australia. Banerjee

never tough on people, he helps anyone he can both inside and outside the dressing room.”

“It is because today’s generation of cricketers

have followed his work ethics, that they are all playing so well.”

Banerjee chuckles before admitting that he has

benefitted from his friendship with Tendulkar. “Of course, I have picked up quite a bit from my friend. I took advantage of being close to him.”

He is, however, quick to guard his closeness

with his mate. “He is a very private person outside

of cricket. Therefore it is not right for me to share anecdotes with you from his personal life,” he

mentions. Banerjee believes that Tendulkar cannot be away from cricket for long after retirement. “He will go on a holiday, spend time with us and then will be soon back in cricket.”

Whatever Tendulkar plans to do after his playing

career, Banerjee will be among the first few to know ‡ about it.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


46 − The Sachin Sunset

Beyond just

the hundreds a profile of tendulkar’s best below-100 scores in tests and odis

saurabh somani

I

f you enjoy an extended run at the topmost

rung of any profession, it is only natural that you build up a body of chef d’oeuvre, no matter

what you do. For a Sachin Tendulkar, the

canvas is so vast that the focus is automatically

narrowed by numbers to some extent. You speak of his greatest innings, and you think of his centuries.

Simon Barnes wrote memorably and movingly

would be gross injustice.

Tendulkar has had several innings where he

might not have touched three figures, but which were no less significant, no less exhilarating and no

less memorable. Here’s a selection from among the ones that left a lasting impact.

57 vs Pakistan, Sialkot 1989

of Tendulkar’s quest for the 100th international

In his debut series, already looked at as a prodigy even

most of them will be comprised of the 99 centuries

own den. He had already scored a half-century in the

hundred and the struggle it entailed. If you have to

cherry pick moments from his career, it is likely that that preceded the 100th, but in some ways, that

though he was all of 16 years old, Tendulkar was up against Imran Khan’s formidable Pakistan side in their

second Test, rescuing India from 101 for 4 with Sanjay


SAURABH SOMANI 47

Like any other great player, he has an array of shots, but more often than not he sticks to the basics. Personally, his straight drive is very pleasing. He is a complete batsman. - Mike Gatting

Manjrekar. In the fourth and final match, Tendulkar

over 18 years, Tendulkar averaged over 47 and took

Tests had been drawn, and Pakistan’s pace attack

44 vs West Indies, Trinidad 1997

walked in at 38 for 4 with Navjot Singh Siddhu at the crease, and Pakistan with their tails up. The first three

less than three innings to pass 50 on average.

was sniffing blood with the chance of a Test and

In what could have gone down as an unremarkable

with Siddhu during which the umpires had to warn

what might be his shortest masterclass. India were

series win. Tendulkar weathered the storm of Imran, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in a century stand

the bowlers against intimidatory bowling. In what

has now become part of folkore, he carried on after

a nose bloodied by a bouncer, waving off assistance or offers to retire hurt. The volume of runs wasn’t

overwhelming, but the volume of talent and spunk in

one so young was staggering, and served to confirm the growing opinion that India had unearthed a oncein-a-generation talent.

82 vs New Zealand, Auckland 1994 The knock that kickstarted Tendulkar’s career as an opener non-pareil in One-Day Internationals and the greatest ODI batsman the game has known. By

1994, Tendulkar was already established as one of the world’s best batsmen, and had the feats in Test

innings in an unremarkable match, if you looked at

only the score or the result, Tendulkar produced up against Curtly Ambrose on fire, and Ambrose’s support cast included Ian Bishop, Courtney Walsh

and Franklyn Rose. It was the first ODI after the Test series, and India were rolled over for 179, but Tendulkar was batting on a seemingly different

surface from the one that hissed and spat at the other Indian batsmen. Given out caught off his sleeve, Tendulkar made 44 off 43, with ten boundaries – each struck more sweetly than the last. Nayan Mongia’s 29

was India’s next highest score, and he plodded for 75

balls to get there. Tendulkar himself has spoken of

this innings as among the ones he remembers when talking of batting in the zone.

76 and 65 vs Australia, February 2001

cricket to back it up. With his promotion to the top of

VVS Laxman and Harbhajan Singh were the headline

Tendulkar smashed 15 fours and two sixes on the

stopped at the final frontier. Rahul Dravid was the

the order following a stiff neck to Siddhu, he ensured that he caught up quickly in ODIs too. In 49 balls,

way to 82 – a strike-rate that would draw praise in

a Twenty20 match, and one that was unheard of in

1994. Since that innings, for the rest of his ODI career

stars in India’s greatest Test series triumph when

Steve Waugh’s all-conquering Australians were

brightest member of the supporting cast, and for the

opposition, Matthew Hayden loomed like a colossus. It’s not entirely surprising therefore, that Tendulkar’s

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


48 − The Sachin Sunset

contributions form part of the background for this series, but what a background it was. The record will show that Australia won by ten wickets in the first Test in Mumbai, masking just how close the Test was,

and how it ebbed and flowed. And in both innings for India, it was Tendulkar who stood tall, and mostly

alone. He made 76 and 65, and the next highest for India in both innings was Nayan Mongia’s 26 not out

and Sadagoppan Ramesh’s 44. In the first innings, it needed a peach from Glenn McGrath – in the

corridor and shaping away – to get Tendulkar and in the second innings, an unbelievable catch by Ricky

Ponting after the ball had ricocheted off Justin Langer at short leg. Before those two dismissals, Tendulkar drove the ball down the ground with majesty, cut

fast bowlers with disdain and flicked spin with ease. Masterly was the only word to describe his batting. 98 vs Pakistan, March 2003

Possibly Tendulkar’s most famous innings that

didn’t reach triple figures, in a crucial match with an occasion, opponent and setting to match. It didn’t

get bigger than a World Cup match against Pakistan,

and faced with a stiff chase, Tendulkar once again soared above the levels that other batsmen had

reached in a match that saw many good innings.

Shoaib Akhtar’s first over disappeared for two fours and a six over point – perhaps the most astonishing

shot of the match because of the complete authority

and dismissal it contained against the world’s fastest

bowler. Neither Akhtar nor Akram and Younis could dent Tendulkar, who raced to 98 off a mere 75 balls. It took an unexpected snorter from Akhtar to finally

dismiss him, but by then India’s chase was on track and Pakistan’s bowlers were off it. There hasn’t been an exhibition of batting that packed so much ferocity

into such sweetly timed and elegantly played shots within such a short space of time – before or since.‡

world cup magic There hasn’t been an exhibition of batting that packed so much ferocity into such elegantly played shots since Tendulkar’s 98 at Centurion in 2003.


49

Shaping legendary

strokes

the man who carves bats for tendulkar offers an intimate glimpse of the batsman’s relationship with his favourite tool

kritika naidu

F

or some, cricket is a passion. For others like Ram Bhandari, it is more than just a game.

It takes just one glance at his workshop in the bylanes of a modest housing colony in South Bangalore to understand why many

regard him as cricket’s “bat doctor”. For the better part of the last decade, Bhandari has been carving bats

to the specifications of cricketers across the state and country. Among his clientele are Ricky Ponting,

Matthew Hayden and even Chris Gayle. But he talks about two gentlemen with most fondness – Sachin

Ramesh Tendulkar and Rahul Sharad Dravid. Both have found a great deal of comfort in getting their

willows customised from him. He

remembers

his

first

interaction

with

Tendulkar as if it was yesterday. “It was in 2004

when he was at the NCA in Bangalore,” he recollects,

before adding that he made some adjustments to Tendulkar’s bat. He didn’t realise then that the association would continue for almost a decade.

“Tendulkar was facing excruciating pain in his

elbow and back in 2007, and hence, he had a problem with the weight of the bat,” says Bhandari. “So I

reduced the weight of his bat and he started using a considerably light bat thereafter. Then gradually

towards 2011, he went back to the old, heavy bat

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


50 − The Sachin Sunset

I don’t believe there will be another Tendulkar, and his achievements on the cricket field will never be matched. Like Sir Donald Bradman’s batting average of 99.94. - Graeme Hick

that he had used in 2004.”

“It is very tough,” says Bhandari. “My hands get

Bhandari considers himself lucky to have

pricked and cut quite often with shards of wood.

Dravid’s bat were what got him noticed among

emanates from grinding, I have dust allergy; I have

designed the bats of several international cricketers, but believes the minor adjustments he made to several other cricketers.

“When Rahul Dravid was playing for the state in

the Ranji Trophy, he called me to the dressing room

and told me he needed me to fix his bat. After seeing that the bat was of the perfect balance and weight,

and was producing the desired results, other players began calling me and getting their bats done.

“When players practised at the NCA, I used to sit

and watch them for hours together. I would observe their footwork, batting style, balance and strokes.

Since I used to play a bit myself, I had a fair idea about bats too. So when a batsman would come to me with an adjustment to be made, I would know

exactly what was needed as I knew how much curve, width and weight a bat would generally require.

“You can tell the difference between footwork

and body language when a bat is heavy or light; or

how strokes change with a curved bat. With these

observations and what their requirements were, I go about modifying them.”

Like every profession, crafting bats is no child’s

play and Bhandari’s hands are testimony to the kind of effort and skill it requires, especially in an age

where the bats are predominantly heavy and meatier than ever before.

Sometimes I cut myself with the saw, sometimes

with the grinding machine. With the dust that

constant bouts of coughing. With the smell of the

adhesives, my eyes burn. I have severe headaches, and experience dizziness. I have to go out to get some fresh air, and then get on with the job at hand. It’s definitely not easy, but I haven’t thought of giving it up ever.”

Bhandari, who started fine-tuning bats for

cricketers in the early 2000s, has not had it easy, but there’s no doubting his passion for the craft. He

picked up most of it by mere observation, assisting his grandfather who was a carpenter. He did menial jobs to begin with, but eventually, ended up aiding some of the best cricketers in the world.

“I have worked on the bats of not just Indian

cricketers, but international players like Ricky Ponting, Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul,

Matthew Hayden, Brad Haddin and Dilshan,” he says, the satisfaction and happiness evident.

Bhandari first began modifying bats when P Doshi,

the owner of a sports store in Gandhi Nagar, handed him two bats on a trial basis. Once the experiment

was successful, he began to improvise. He believes

that working with Doshi gave him encouragement and propelled him in the right direction.

“Every player has different preferences and


KRITIKA NAIDU 51

the make of the bats are also different

depending on the companies,” explains Bhandari. “In India, we have about ten

to 15 bat companies that have different dyes; their curves are different, bottom

weights are different. For each player, the

level of modification differs with their style of batting, the bats they use and the bat manufacturers.

“Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir

and Dravid play with lightweight bats,

whereas MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Virat

Kohli play with bats of normal weight,

around 1250 grams,” he says. “Players like Gayle and Tendulkar use heavy bats that weigh around 1350 grams.”

The one factor that gives him most

satisfaction is the fact that none of his

revisions have gone wrong. “I only do what I’m asked to do by the players;

their requirements are what I pay heed to. They test the modified bats in their net sessions and if it suits their game,

they use the blades thereafter. Besides, why would players keep coming back

to me if they haven’t had success after what I’ve done?” Although

bat

manufacturers

have

never

approached Bhandari, he would not like to collaborate

or work with anyone. He’s a one-man show. “This is my life; my bread and butter,” he says, while working

on a bat from the many he has stacked in a small,

dim room in his workshop. “I am not interested in working for a big company. I am comfortable and happy where I am.”

As the conversation veers towards Tendulkar

and the topic of his retirement, one can’t help but feel Bhandari’s admiration. There is emotion in

his voice when he echoes the sentiments of millions of fans

across the country, gearing

up to cheer their hero one last time.

wood work “You can tell the difference between footwork and body language when a bat is heavy or light,” says Bhandari, who carves Tendulkar’s bats.

“Sachin is a genius player

and someone like him cannot be born ever again; not just in India, but in the world,” he says. “He has

played some amazing knocks and his career has

spanned so many years – it’s just amazing. The only thing that is left for him to achieve is breaking Lara’s

record of 400 runs. I hope he can sign off with tons ‡ in both his final Tests.”

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


52 − The Sachin Sunset

greats on the lawn What do two men who’ve transcended eras in their respective sports speak of when they meet? Perhaps Tendulkar recounted his childhood dream of emulating John McEnroe to Federer.


53

bottom hand of success After a dispiriting World Cup campaign in 2007, a shiny, new trophy after winning the three-Test series 1-0 in England, puts a smile back on Tendulkar’s face.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


54 − The Sachin Sunset

pitching in line Wherever he is in the world, crowds, red carpets and adulation are never too far from Tendulkar.

foot on the gas At ease in Mark Webber’s machine, Tendulkar’s love for fast cars is second only to his love for batting. Did India trade in a potential F1 winner for a batting champion?


55

tweak in the tale He could give it a rip, or keep it on length and had a googly that was good enough to deceive batsmen even in the drawing room. Tendulkar, the bowler, was a joyous sight who made things happen.

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56 − The Sachin Sunset

a cup of emotion A man who has been India’s Atlas, carrying the hopes and expectations of a nation whenever he walks on the field, is overwhelmed by emotion in the arms of Yuvraj Singh as his childhood dream of winning the World Cup is fulfilled in his sixth attempt.


57

King pong Competitiveness was inscribed in Tendulkar’s DNA. On his maiden tour in 1989, every table-tennis defeat was avenged by the 16-year-old.

Ranji Rigour When he played for Mumbai, Tendulkar inspired victories on the field, and affection and admiration in spades off it.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


58 − The Sachin Sunset

EVERYWHERE MAN In the thick of the action, at all times.


59

HELPING HAND Whenever Dhoni needed help, Tendulkar was one of the few people he would turn to.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


60 − The Sachin Sunset

The

Writers remember

- Dileep Premachandran

After Kolkata, in Chennai, back in 2001, it was understandable that everyone was talking of Laxman and Dravid, and Harbhajan’s feats with the ball. On the eve of the series decider in Chennai, Peter Roebuck came to the nets, not to file copy but just to watch. I can’t recall more than a handful of deliveries getting past Tendulkar’s bat during that session. “He doesn’t like being on the periphery, you know?” said Roebuck, a man of few words, to an awed young man covering just his second Test. “Big hundred coming up. You can take it for granted.” Tendulkar made 126. When you summon up his most crucial or beautiful hundreds, this is unlikely to feature. But I, for one, will never forget three fours in an over off Warne, each ramped over the slips with a nonchalance and mastery that had the bowler at the end of his tether. Tendulkar the dominator, and Roebuck the clairvoyant – I’ll remember both with equal fondness.

It was in 1994, in Hyderabad, the Wills Trophy was underway, with Tendulkar leading Bombay. After their practice session at the Gymkhana Ground in Secunderabad, a couple of us journalists approached him for a short chat and Tendulkar was more than happy to oblige. As we huddled around him, an unfamiliar voice asked, “Don’t you think Pakistan are better than India? They will beat India every time, won’t they?” As we whirled around to identify the source of these questions, Tendulkar, cool as ice, asked him, “And which paper do you work for, sir? Are you sure you are a journalist?” When the intruder said he wasn’t a mediaperson, Tendulkar summoned a security guard and told him, “Can you please gently escort this gentleman out of here, and make sure that only journalists are asking questions.” He was all of 21 then and had already proved himself on the field. The maturity and composure that evening in the face of some provocation, however, made a more lasting impression on me than his on-field exploits.

- R Kaushik


61

Ask any coach or expert why he thinks a particular batsman is special and he will tell you the easiest way to spot this is to see how much time a person has to play his shots. What this means, of course, is that some players get into position sooner than others, are more balanced at the point of striking the ball, and therefore give an illusion of having more time to play the ball. Sachin Tendulkar has always had time, but this is not because his eyesight is so extraordinary that he sees things before other people do. It’s a byproduct of a lifetime of absorbing cricket and being able to read cues better than anyone else. The prime example of this came in the World Cup in South Africa, at Durban, against England. Andy Caddick, dropped one short when Tendulkar was on 22, and the batsman had clearly anticipated the delivery. Tendulkar pulled so fiercely over midwicket that the ball ended up in a car park abutting the ground. It was a moment that perfectly showcased one man’s complete mastery over the game.

- Shamya Dasgupta

- Anand Vasu

This is from the great Kolkata Test of 2001. It wasn’t Tendulkar’s Test. It belonged to Laxman and Harbhajan, and Dravid and, me as well, seeing that it was the first Test I ever covered. The moment I remember most fondly took place as the game wound to its famous close, when Tendulkar was thrown the ball. The game wasn’t quite in the bag yet for India, with Hayden and Gilchrist at the crease. Tendulkar first sent Gilchrist, and then Hayden, back lbw. In his next over, Warne confronted him. He was bowling legspinners. With Hayden and Gilchrist gone, the game had turned, decisively as it turned out, in India’s favour. But there was time enough for Tendulkar to make one final statement. He did, getting Warne out lbw to a wrong ‘un. The series was touted as one between Tendulkar the batsman and Warne the bowler. My interpretation is that Tendulkar just wanted to show that he could beat Warne at his own game. A googly, which even the master of the art couldn’t pick, at least on the day.

One moment – but one of a thousand others similar – frozen in time. It is a delivery, from a pace bowler, of no exceptional merit beyond its impeccable line, on middle-and-off to off, and good length, but surely one to be treated with respect. The danger to the batsman lies only in his own lack of such. Tendulkar watches, and, quicker than almost anyone who has played the game, picks up the length, and moves automatically into position,head and feet synchronised. He might play it with defensive bat, but he is ‚in‘ now. He waits, just a fraction longer than the mortals, until the ball is almost on him, and then the bat comes down straight, on the line of the delivery, as if to hit it back to the bowler. But then comes the magic: a turn of the wrist in the last micro-second sends the ball skimming to the legside instead, the placement impeccable and timing immaculate.Mid-on is beaten to his right hand, and midwicket to his left. The ball goes unchallenged to the fence. Tendulkar does not bother to run.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013

- Mike Selvey


62 − The Sachin Sunset

first published in wisdenindia.com on april 24, 2013

For love of

the game Tendulkar’s blade may no longer be as sharp as a 16-year-old prodigy’s but he remains singular in the limits he continues to push 23 years later

DILEEP PREMACHANDRAN

T

he same moment that you are seen as the best, the fastest and somebody that cannot be touched, you are enormously fragile.”

Though he didn’t say it, it’s a sentiment

that Sachin Tendulkar has carried with

him throughout a career that is now nudging towards the

quarter-century mark. For all the unimaginable highs,

there have been terrible lows. And though they say no man is an island, in his case, he has often had to be.

The man who uttered those words about fragility,

Ayrton Senna, has been dead nearly two decades.

When Tendulkar made his debut, he had yet to win two of his three World Championships. Michael

Schumacher, who retired last year with seven titles and 91 race wins, was still unknown outside Germany.

Carl Lewis, who turns 52 this year, was the world’s

fastest man. Usain Bolt was three. Joe Montana, who

now makes wine, was American Football’s premier quarterback. Steve Davis ruled the green baize, and Jocky Wilson, the chunky Scot who passed away last year, was the boss of the oche.

Diego Maradona was still around, with Marco van

Basten, Roberto Baggio, Lothar Mattheus and Ruud Gullit, some of the other outstanding footballers

of that era. The world hadn’t yet heard of Zinedine


DILEEP PREMACHANDRAN 63

Zidane, who retired in 2006. Lionel Messi was two.

Jack Hobbs played his final Test

Champions League.

seasons. Yorkshire’s Wilfred

Manchester United had been champions of England seven times, and not 20. Barcelona had yet to win the

The oldest of Tendulkar’s teammates on that first

tour to Pakistan in 1989, Arshad Ayub, turns 55 later

this year. Memories of the other young ’uns from back then – Vivek Razdan, Salil Ankola and Maninder Singh – are lost in the mists of time.

Many of the journalists covering the Indian

Premier League beat this year are far too young to have

any memories of the early part of Tendulkar’s career, as are the majority of fans following the event. But for

the wonders of YouTube and other archives, you’d be

tempted to think that the story of the boy wonder who went on to become a run gatherer without parallel was a chapter from the Brothers Grimm.

Of course, cricket has some previous when it

comes to greats attempting to defy the onset of time.

when he was 47, and went on to represent Surrey for four more

the constant There have been so many halcyon days and years that we’ve lost track. But like O Henry’s last leaf, Tendulkar remains, keeping winter at bay.

Rhodes won the last of his 58 Test caps at the age of 52.

The Tendulkar of today is unrecognisable

from the teenager who set about Abdul Qadir in an

exhibition game in Peshawar on his first tour. He bears little resemblance to the boy-man who stood

on tiptoe to defy Australia on a Perth trampoline.

There are merely faint traces of the player he

was when Shane Warne was savaged in a Test series in 1998.

As the support cast around him changed – two

generations of players have come and gone – so

Tendulkar continued to reinvent himself. Once in a while, you can catch glimpses of the man who

could hit the ball where he wanted, when he wished

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64 − The Sachin Sunset

Sachin’s innate talent combined optimally with him being a true Indian, a team player and a hard worker brings him to the cusp of achieving what no other cricketer has achieved. - Kiran More

to. That sort of exuberant stroke-making was in

against age, and even when you think about his

expressed himself as he had in his pomp, aware that

to push the sun back up in the sky and give us one

evidence during a ‘second childhood’, between 2008

and 2011. After years of playing the percentages, he the line-up around him was strong enough to afford him that luxury.

The performance graph has dipped since the

World Cup win in 2011, but even as sports desks around the world keep retirement copy ready, the man himself shows little sign of walking away. What keeps him going is something that he alone knows.

In the movie, For Love of the Game, Billy Chapel,

a 40-year-old baseball pitcher staring at the end, is asked by Jane, his lover: “You don’t lose much, do you?” “I lose,” Billy replies. “I’ve lost 134 times.” “You count

them?” she asks. “We count everything” is Billy’s reply. Like

Billy,

Tendulkar’s

ability

to

recall

moments and numbers from the past borders

on the intimidating. For an interviewer, it can

be embarrassing to go prepared for a chat on his greatest innings, and find him summoning up

details from a cameo of 44 in Trinidad, a day when he felt in “near-perfect touch” against Ambrose, Walsh, Bishop and Rose.

Seeing Tendulkar in the IPL is to be reminded of

the best lines from For Love of the Game. “You get the feeling that Billy Chapel isn’t pitching against

left-handers, he isn’t pitching against pinch hitters, he isn’t pitching against the Yankees. He’s pitching

against time. He’s pitching against the future,

career, against ending. And tonight I think he might

be able to use that aching old arm one more time more day of summer.”

There have been so many halcyon days

and years that we’ve lost track. But like O Henry’s

last leaf, Tendulkar remains, keeping winter at bay. If we agree that a sense of purpose and destiny

separates the greats from the rest, then we may find a clue to his longevity in something Senna said in his final years.

“On a given day, a given circumstance, you think

you have a limit,” he said. “And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think,

‘Okay, this is the limit.’ As soon as you touch this

limit, something happens and you suddenly can

go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.”

Having left behind limits once considered out of

reach, Tendulkar still wants to spread those wings.

“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and

the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the

game and never looked back ... play for her,” said Mia

Hamm, whose 17-year career with the US women’s football team included a world-record 158 goals.

Substitute ‘boy’ for ‘girl’ and ‘him’ for ‘her’, and you ‡ have Tendulkar in a nutshell.


65

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


66 − The Sachin Sunset

first published in wisdenindia.com on december 25, 2012

In Peshawar, India find a

“little bugger who can play” There was no plan to play the 16-year-old in a One-Day International then; you didn’t throw teenagers into the deep end

SURESH MENON

T

wenty three years ago, it was easy to see

why the forefathers of the security men at Peshawar could not control the Khyber

Pass. A huge crowd had turned up at the cricket stadium, many fans allowed in

by the combination of the friendliness of those paid to

check the tickets and the aggression of those who thought valour might be the better part of discretion.

The India-Pakistan match was an occasion, as

always. India hadn’t been to Pakistan in five years, they had a brand new captain, and Pakistan were led by that wily fox Imran Khan.

Everything was in the hosts’ favour. But Peshawar

was bound to be different. On a clear day, a guide told us, you could see Afghanistan. But this wasn’t a clear day. In fact, it rained, putting paid to the aspirations

of thousands of spectators some of whom had even bought tickets. It is possible that those who shouted

loudest about being deprived were those who didn’t have any tickets. It is often that way.

The Indian team was coming together as a unit

on that tour – led by Krishnamachari Srikkanth, it

was in transition, Sunil Gavaskar having retired and Dilip Vengsarkar having lost his job as captain after


SURESH MENON 67

Merchant to C K Nayudu. Six degrees of separation.

All that was academic as India took on Pakistan in a

hastily-arranged friendly (or as friendly as you could get under the circumstances) match after overnight

rain had made a full international impossible. Kapil Dev pulled out with a stiff neck. It was a theme that

was to play out with greater significance later, when

Navjot’s Singh’s stiff neck opened the slot at the top of the order, one that Tendulkar made his own with 82 off 49 balls in Auckland.

“Just get a feel of the game,” Srikkanth told

Tendulkar. There was no plan to play the 16-year-old in a One-Day International then; you didn’t throw

teenagers into the deep end. But this was a team a poor tour of the West Indies. The forced camaraderie – for security reasons – meant that the team and the journalists

had to find entertainment

in transition. Sanjay Manjrekar was establishing goel wonders “Just get a feel of the game,” Srikkanth told Tendulkar. There was no plan to play the 16-year-old in a One-Day International then.

among ourselves. I have a

picture somewhere of Tendulkar in a false beard – we had to wear one to attend one of the ‘club’ meetings.

It was my first Test tour; the oldest among us

was Dicky Rutnagur who had been touring for over

three decades. He had reported the series in England in 1952 when India were led by Vijay Hazare. It

was possible that there were only two degrees of separation, three at most, between me and a reporter

who covered India’s first-ever Test, in England 1932. It was easy to feel a part of history.

If Sachin Tendulkar nurtured similar thoughts, I

couldn’t say. His connection to that Lord’s Test would

necessarily have more links. One route was: Kapil Dev to Erapalli Prasanna to Vijay Manjrekar to Vijay

himself as a pillar of the batting (he was to make a double hundred in a Test in Pakistan, after a century in Barbados against the West Indies).

India’s one-day future arrived with startling

speed. Everything changed in 18 deliveries. Srikkanth, till then India’s best regarded one-day batsman,

hardly got a stroke in edgewise as Tendulkar hit five sixes off the leg spinners Abdul Qadir and Mushtaq

Ahmed. The unbeaten 53 he made included 27 in one

Qadir over. There was no wild slogging, just scientific and gleeful driving and pulling. Three sixes in a row.

When Qadir dropped one short as Tendulkar

stepped out, and was technically beaten. But he was 16, he didn’t know better, and so he went through with the shot. The bat made a lovely arc, and for all

we know the ball is still travelling - no one could find it.

That evening Srikkanth made what must rate as an understatement. “The little bugger must play now.” ‡ Suresh Menon is editor, Wisden India Almanack

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


68 − The Sachin Sunset

first published in wisden india almanack 2013

Waiting for

Sachin

Throughout the summer of 2011, England waited for Tendulkar’s 100th international century, but there was a sadness that went beyond the landmark when he failed

Lawrence Booth

S

ometimes, as a cricket writer, you are

lucky enough to be in the right place at

the right time. The stars – celestial and terrestrial – align, and all seems right with the world. In July 2011, when Sachin

Tendulkar stood as tall as nature allows and punched Chris Tremlett through the covers on the Saturday of the Lord’s Test, the world could hardly seem righter.

The Lord’s buzz can be exaggerated, as if tradition

automatically begets frisson. Just occasionally the place can be cold, damp and empty, though you

rarely hear about it. But that day Lord’s was magical.

St John’s Wood was in one of its hazy moods, and both sets of fans – plus those who turn up to drink,

dine and be seen – were in good spirits.

More to the point, so was Tendulkar. He tucked

James Anderson off his pads, then stroked Tremlett

on the up through extra cover, thus providing us with a legitimate excuse – one we rarely need – to lapse into eulogy. Truly, the scene was set.

It goes without saying that Tendulkar did not

reach three figures. Edging Stuart Broad to Graeme Swann in the slips, he fell just the 66 short, and so set the tone for a curious summer in which the expected waltz to a 100th international century would become

a danse macabre. By the end, he was provoking sympathy and – among those who apparently believe

Tendulkar exists only to boost their own self-esteem


LAWRENCE BOOTH 69

– even a touch of rancour.

point against England, it still

elephant man. Now, from north to south London, via

given innings. (Apologies for

Victorian circuses used to draw crowds with

unusual attractions: the hairy lady, say, or the

Nottingham and Birmingham, we were treated to the sight of a run machine forced to recalibrate its own mortality – and all because of a blessed number.

Roll up, roll up and see the 100th bead on the abacus refuse to budge! For students of psychology – and accountants at the England and Wales Cricket Board – this was gold dust and nectar. And for the man himself? Well, it was all a little undignified.

What became clear as the series developed was

that, in sport, hope rarely defers to bitter experience. Tendulkar, let’s not forget, scores a Test century

roughly once every six innings. And while that may

have suggested, at the start of a four-match series, that he would inevitably tick off the hundred at some

meant he had only a 16 per

cent chance of doing so in any the maths: it was that kind of

long walk back Fans turned up in their thousands at every venue in anticipation of Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th hundred, but went away disappointed and sad every single time.

summer.) The way England’s

seamers were bowling, you could have knocked off a few more percentage points too. Anderson

was

especially

skilful,

dragging

Tendulkar across his stumps with his outswinger, then zipping it back in to trap him leg-before in the

second innings at Lord’s. He got him again in the

second innings at Trent Bridge. In between, Broad

had him fending into the slips. The technical experts who have followed Tendulkar all over the world for more than two decades recharged their laptops.

In fact, Tendulkar wasn’t playing all that badly.

Among the Indian batsmen, only Rahul Dravid was

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70 − The Sachin Sunset

Sachin Tendulkar’s charm goes beyond the field. For cricket, he is Maradona and Pele out together – it is as simple as that. Cricket will be a poorer sport when he quits the game. - Allan Donald

coping. Tendulkar kept tantalising us, then getting out.

would have ended his innings on 34. Next day, in the

offices around the world, and all the editors needed

When he moved into the 80s, I left the press box

It wasn’t that the script kept being torn up, because the

script existed, on red alert, in a hundred newspaper to do was transfer the pre-written paeans to the page.

Still, there was something especially cruel about the way Tendulkar fell at Edgbaston, run out at the non-

striker’s end via Swann’s fingertips after playing like a genius to reach 40.

For English cricket followers, Tendulkar will

always be synonymous with Old Trafford, where

he saved a Test in 1990 at the age of 17 and walked off – innocent and barely bumfluffed – to bemused applause from ancient-looking players sporting a variety of facial hair. But Old Trafford wasn’t on the

rota this time, and instead Tendulkar headed in hope to The Oval for the fourth and final Test. The

Oval

performs

a

particular

function.

Traditionally the final Test of the summer, it is where

last-ditch bids are made for a spot on a winter tour, and the Ashes urn is regained or retained. It emits finality – Don Bradman’s second-ball duck, and eternal average of 99.94, is the most infamous example.

Now, as India followed on – Tendulkar had made

23 in the first innings – the mood changed. Few sportsmen have the aura to transcend the narrative

all by themselves. But Tendulkar’s quest for that

century had developed a mischievous momentum of

its own. Fate appeared to be with him: on the fourth evening, England failed to appeal for a stumping that

company of nightwatchman Amit Mishra, he was making good headway.

to sit by the crowd and soak in the atmosphere. You would not have guessed India were trailing 0-3. It

was as if nothing that had gone before mattered. Tendulkar’s pursuit of a nice round number of round numbers, however, most certainly did.

Enter Tim Bresnan, one of England’s unsung

heroes. Was his shout a fraction high? Or even

leg-sidish? Umpire Rod Tucker thought not – and Tendulkar was gone, for 91. Bradman had left to a disbelieving, almost reverent, gasp, but crowds are

more partisan now: English fans instinctively cheered even while Indians looked on in mute incredulity.

Throughout the summer, Tendulkar had been

applauded to the crease – then applauded all the

way back again. This time, there was a sadness that

went beyond the missed landmark. English crowds

suspected they would not see him bat in a Test again. Had they enjoyed him as thoroughly as they would

have liked throughout the summer? Only to an extent. Greatness

sets

itself

high

standards.

Statistics can be dry and unforgiving. Tendulkar fell

short on both counts. But, really, we shouldn’t hold it ‡ against him.

Lawrence Booth is editor, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack


71

first published in wisden india almanack 2013

A hundred reasons

to smile

twenty-one fruitless Test match innings and a dozen in ODIs before the 100th hundred. Sometimes even the gods manifest themselves as mortal for a while

Mike Selvey

V

ery few, perhaps in the history of sport, can truly understand what it is

like to be Sachin Tendulkar, to regard

as normal that which the mortals of this world see only as an abnormal

existence that demands he is all but incarcerated within

his own country, on a kind of house arrest so that it is only in the dead of night, when the streets clear, that

he can take his sports cars for a spin. The attention he

receives goes beyond mere adulation and enters the

world of veneration. Is any deity ever worshipped more? And with the microscopic attention comes

the expectation. From the moment he began his

international career as a curly haired youth of prodigious reputation and achievement, he has

carried the hopes of a billion people on his shoulders

each time he has pottered, invariably blinking, to the stage he has dominated for two decades. It followed

him to England last summer when each entrance was accompanied by a standing ovation and each exit

similarly marked. Every dismissal is accompanied by

despair (and, in the huge stadia of India, a deafening

silence), each entrance by hope renewed. In the film Clockwise, the English comedian John Cleese distinguishes between the two emotions: “I can take

the despair,� he says of his situation, “it is the hope

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


72 − The Sachin Sunset

It takes a master to produce a masterpiece. Lesser mortals might tap into the well of brilliance or temporarily befriend inspiration, but mastery belongs to the precious few. - Peter Roebuck

I can’t stand.” For followers of Tendulkar, rather

the intensity began to build up in the game even of

hope of another hundred.

between this milestone (or was it millstone?) and

than the man himself, it is hard to know which is the

greater encumbrance: the despair of a failure or the

Then, on 10 March 2011, in Nagpur, following

India’s World Cup match against South Africa,

everything intensified. For that day Tendulkar made

111, the 99th time that he had reached three figures for his country, and suddenly came the clamour for him to reach a landmark. Now there were many, this correspondent included, who saw this as a contrivance, a concocted effort to further the adulation of one who needed none further. Adding

together Test match centuries and those scored in

limited overs cricket was, it was reasoned, to mix apples with pears and come up with a fruit bowl.

Was not a half-century of Test match hundreds, and, yet to come but in all probability, the same in limited

overs not sufficient in their own right to mark him as one standing with other gods on the Olympian summit of cricket achievement?

But then we outsiders do not, cannot, fully

understand quite what Tendulkar means to the people of India. His achievements embody the unattainable aspirations of a nation. Through him

it is they themselves who live the dream. And so whatever level he reaches, there will always be one

more beyond. It takes a remarkable fellow to be

philosophical and sanguine about this. And yet with

each innings, and each failure to reach three figures,

one so mentally strong.

There is an interesting comparison to be drawn

that of those few who have scored one hundred first-class centuries. What it shows is that luck,

circumstance, form, fortune and state of mind can dictate how readily the transition is made from 99

centuries to 100. Geoffrey Boycott, for instance, did it in his very next innings, and in the highest profile manner imaginable for an Englishman, in his 100th

Test, against Australia, on his home ground. Graeme

Hick even managed his 99th and 100th in the same match. So fraught did the great Walter Hammond

get, on the other hand, that he went 23 fruitless

innings before, at a loss, he went out, threw the bat with abandon and made 116.

Yet none of these achievements remotely carried

the hope heaped on Tendulkar. The more he batted,

and the more he failed to cross the threshold, the

more the questions were asked and the more selfdoubt must inevitably have crept in, even with him.

There were flirtations: 94 on his home ground in Mumbai and what almost seemed preordained cut

off by the sharpest of slip catches; 91 at The Oval last year, brought down by an lbw decision.

It was during the tour of England, valedictory

for him, that the weight may have borne down

heaviest. It dominated the agenda even as India as a team struggled to make headway. Tendulkar


MIKE SELVEY 73

himself found it difficult. As batsmen age, they lose

not until an ODI against

into a pragmatism forged in the heat of experience.

his Nagpur hundred, that,

the instinctiveness, impetuosity, and verve of their youth, when everything is an adventure, and settle

At times it must be wearying. Tendulkar looked vulnerable early on in an innings, as bowlers

sought his outside edge or his pads, his movements no longer twinkling and just a fraction more ponderous now. He still played sublimely at times:

the back foot punch through the covers; the flick

through midwicket with nothing more than a turn of the wrist; the straight drive that was little more

than a defensive stroke played with chronometric timing. But the air of invulnerability was no longer

there. Respect for him never wavered but his aura had slipped.

He left England without a century and it was

Bangladesh in Dhaka, one

year and four days since grateful and relieved, he was

the evolution As batsmen age, they lose the instinctiveness, impetuosity, and verve of their youth, when everything is an adventure, and settle into a pragmatism forged in the heat of experience.

able to trot through for the

leg side single that with it brought release. The last leg of a remarkable journey had taken him through

21 fruitless Test match innings and a dozen

in ODIs before this last one. Never, in his entire

cricket life, had he gone as long without a hundred.

Sometimes even the gods manifest themselves as mortal for a while. Hammond, he might like to know, ‥ went on to make a further 67 hundreds. Mike Selvey, former English Test cricketer, is the

cricket correspondent for The Guardian newspaper.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


BRADMAN

A

Achrekar

Don Bradman anointed Tendulkar as the modern day master, the one who reminded him the most of himself. The baton had been passed. They famously met at the former’s residence in Adelaide in 1998 with Shane Warne for company.

Where would Tendulkar be if not for Ramakant Achrekar’s guidance and disciplining in his early days? It is said that Achrekar used to take Tendulkar on his bike to all the grounds around Mumbai and make him play four-five games every day.

GAVASKAR

DOUBLE HUNDRED

One of his heroes while growing up, and whose record he ultimately broke, was Sunil Gavaskar, who also gifted Tendulkar with light-weight pads, which Tendulkar wore when he made his debut and later, when he scored his first Test hundred.

G

D

E

ERA

It was probably fitting that the first double hundred in ODIs was registered by Tendulkar, who redefined the way batting was done in limitedovers cricket over the years.

The period between 1989 to 2013 will have to be known as the Tendulkar Era, during which he played 662 international matches, including playing with or against 982 cricketers.

C

CENTURIES

Tendulkar’s century of international centuries – 51 in Tests and 49 in ODIs; a record that will probably never be broken. The enormity of it is such that the next two in the list are 29 and 39 behind respectively.

FERRARI

The Ferrari Modena 360 didn’t cost him anything, but it created controversy and fury when Tendulkar asked for exemption from paying the import duty of 1.1 crore. The car was later sold to a Gujarati businessman.

F KAMBLI

I

Kambli was the school friend and club mate with whom he notched up one record after another playing for Sardashram Vidya Mandir. Their 664-run partnership created in 1988 was a world record till two boys from Hyderabad broke it in 2006.

INJURIES

K

From the back pain that thwarted him against Pakistan in 1999 in Chennai to the tennis elbow condition – each made headlines; injuries to the toe, thigh, hamstring, ankle, finger, shoulder, knee, groin, elbow, abdomen and wrist – Tendulkar has seen it all.

H

J

HANSIE CRONJE

It wasn’t Curtly Ambrose, Wasim Akram or Glenn McGrath that Tendulkar picked as the bowler who troubled him the most: “Hansie Cronje. Honestly. I got out to Hansie more than anyone. I never knew what to do with him.”

LITTLE MASTER

Thought the title was bestowed to Hanif Mohammad first and then passed on to Sunil Gavaskar, it was to Tendulkar that it would remain associated with the longest.

Compiled by Dileep V Illustration: Ashish Mohanty

John McEnroe

L

In his formative years Tendulkar was a huge fan of tennis legend John McEnroe and wanted to be a tennis player. He even aped his idol by growing his hair long and tying a band around it.

MRF PACE FOUNDATION

Before his career really took off, Tendulkar wanted to become a fast bowler and went to the MRF Pace Foundation, where Dennis Lillee rejected him and asked him to focus on his batting.

M


YORKSHIRE

Yorkshire signed him as an overseas player when he was just 19 – Tendulkar became the first overseas player to represent the county.

ZERO

B

He has been dismissed for a duck only twice in domestic firstclass games – once by Hampshire’s Paul-Jan Bakker in 1992 and then by Uttar Pradesh’s Bhuvneshwar Kumar in 2009.

Z

Y

UNDER-19

VIV RICHARDS

Usually the stepping stone to international cricket for all cricketers, in Sachin’s case he moved from school cricket to senior cricket directly and never played an U-19 game for the country.

Viv Richards was Tendulkar’s childhood idol. He wanted to be as destructive as the Antiguan and did achieve that in the first half of his career.

XI

V

U

He is the only Indian in the Wisden World XI selected to mark the publication’s 150th anniversary and only Indian and modern day cricketer to be included in Don Bradman’s alltime Test XI.

X

OZ

No player except Jack Hobbs has scored more Test runs against Australia, the best attack of that era, than Tendulkar. With 11 centuries in Tests and nine in ODIs, he stamped his authority on the best in the business. *Jack Hobbs has 3636 runs against Australia to Tendulkar’s 3630.

WORLD CUP

It took more than two decades for the dream to come true, but he made the 1996 and 2003 World Cups his own and, apart from the winners’ medal in 2011, also owns the records for most runs, hundreds and appearances.

O

W PARTNERS IN CRIME

Tendulkar and Ganguly’s opening partnership is the best in ODI history in terms of runs scored (8227) and hundreds (26). In Tests, he and Dravid added 6920 with 20 hundred partnerships.

S

P

SHARJAH

R T

RECORDS

He holds most of the important batting records in Tests and ODIs including most runs, hundreds and appearances.

TONY GREIG

Some say Tony Greig had a huge role to play in making Tendulkar famous. That might be an exaggeration but anybody who heard Tony Greig yell, “The little master has smashed it over the bowler’s head” will agree it added to the excitement.

Q N

NERVOUS NINETIES

For the hundred international hundreds he scored, there were also 27 nineties – on three of those occasions, he was out on 99.

The desert city has seen some fine ODI performances from Tendulkar including the epic back-to-back centuries in 1998 against the Australian bowling line-up that included Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

QUOTES

Whether it was from his first known interview, where he said, “I always wanted to play Cricket” to Kohli’s “Tendulkar has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years …”; quotes around Tendulkar have been, well, quotable.


76 − The Sachin Sunset

first published in wisdenindia.com on april 24, 2013

Sachin, and the

age of innocence Tendulkar’s first interview is a reminder of a time when players actually spoke their mind without fear of the consequences

Anjali Doshi

H

is fortieth birthday is a good occasion to

recall

my

favourite

Sachin

Tendulkar interview. Lest you worry, this is not another birthday-induced Sachin tribute – God knows there are

enough of those doing the rounds already.

If you haven’t chanced upon this gem, watch it

now - Sachin being interviewed by Tom Alter, veteran theatre personality, in January 1989. Long before he took to experimenting with his hair, wearing flashy Ed Hardy T-shirts, signing multi-million dollar contracts, or sporting a diamond stud in his ear. Long

before

he

learned

how

to

speak

grammatically correct English. And tackle questions

that may involve a possibly controversial answer with an air of practiced and noncommittal ease.

This is Sachin at 15, waiting patiently to be

interviewed after DilipVengsarkar, sipping tea from a steel cup in Shivaji Park – and, if it’s possible, his voice was even thinner than it is now.

This is Sachin in the age of innocence. When there

was plenty of speculation over his probable Test

debut during India’s tour of West Indies (in MarchApril 1989) and questions over his ability to face up to the world’s most fearsome pace attack - Marshall, Ambrose, Walsh and Bishop - at such a tender age.


ANJALI DOSHI 77

He tells Alter that he “won’t have any trouble

interview for free when you

strong emphasis on the final consonant of ‘bat’) and

It’s odd then to chance

to face Marshall”, he’s not too young, he loves fast

bowling because it “comes on to the bat” (note the

he enjoys bowling “middyum pace”. When asked if

he was tired of doing interviews, Sachin says with utmost sincerity, “This is just the start.”

There is a certain purity to that interview – the

casual setting, no studio lights, no sponsors in the backdrop or on the gear, no rehearsed questions and responses – that has long since escaped the game.

Nowadays, you’d be hard-pressed to gain access

to any player - even those yet to find their bearings in international cricket - without the interference of an

entourage of sponsors, agents, PR professionals, and marketing-branding types. After all, why agree to an

are obligated to plug publicitystarved sponsors? upon

cricketers’

earlier

one for the future Tendulkar before making his debut for Yorkshire in 1992, at an age when the setting for interactions with cricketers had a certain purity.

interviews, when they weren’t the finished product they are today. By finished, I mean sans the naiveté and earnestness that once informed their public persona – jaded as most of them are now by all the

attention, the constant hankering for interviews and the plethora of back-to-back media commitments. When they do occasionally deign to indulge the

press – usually at the behest of a sponsor – it’s with

a cynical view of the media in general, especially the Indian media.

But it’s not just innocence that is now gold dust -

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


78 − The Sachin Sunset

The best thing about Sachin is he never sledges. During the matches in Toronto for the Sahara Cup in the late 1990s, I abused him. But by choosing not to reply, he showed how great a human being he is. - Saqlain Mushtaq

honesty is too. A piece I did for Vogue soon after MS

with a show cause notice.

his aspiration to own a Rolex – having just ordered

apparently involve not speaking about a series even

Dhoni became Indian captain had him talking openly

about his lack of confidence as a pimply teenager and

his first one, following his handsome US$1.5 million contract in the 2008 IPL auction.

In another interview to NDTV, right after India

won the CB series in Australia, when asked about being critical of his team members, he says, “I am

a transparent person. Whatever happens on the

field, I just repeat it at the press conference. There is nothing confidential about it.”

Such candour is now off the table, as the press

pack knows only too well. How’s this for honesty? Mark Butcher, when asked what he had for tea

after his 173 not out during an Ashes Test at Leeds, replied: “A coffee and a fag in the shower”.

Among the many reasons for discarding

honesty, especially as far as the Indian cricketers are concerned, is the gag imposed by the BCCI – a constant reminder lurking behind the code-of-

conduct euphemism that shows the cricketing superstars of this country who their daddy is.

When Greg Chappell, the coach, spoke about the

team’s seniors operating “like the mafia” after India’s 2007 World Cup exit, Tendulkar told the Times of

India he was deeply hurt. “I’ve given my heart and

soul to Indian cricket for 17 years. No coach has ever mentioned, even in passing, that my attitude was not

correct.” The BCCI’s response? Slapping Tendulkar

One

can

understand

disallowing

media

interactions during a series. But the new rules

a month after the dust has settled. This explains the

absence of any interviews from the Indian players after the 4-0 whitewash against Australia.

In the post-IPL era, it’s not just the BCCI calling

the shots but franchises too. When Saurabh Tiwary

made a point during his 2010 stint with the Mumbai Indians about a 30-run cameo in the IPL grabbing

headlines (compared to a century or double century in the Ranji Trophy that is often overlooked), the

Mumbai Indians team management did not waste a moment in ordering the press to delete that bit.

Of course, the media - particularly in India - does

not help matters when its raison d’etre seems to be

twisting innocent remarks for a sensational story. At

the press conference after the fourth day of the Oval Test in 2007, when asked whether the bowlers were

tired because Rahul Dravid opted not to enforce the

follow-on, Zaheer Khan said, “As far as I am concerned, I have given my everything to the series. I don’t think I was tired or anything.” That was enough to set off a massive TV news-generated controversy back home.

Zaheer refused to entertain any media requests

for months after. And the manager on tour told a newspaper, “The players are quite tired with the way

quotes are being misinterpreted or being used back home, especially on television.”


ANJALI DOSHI 79

This explains why, on the rare occasion when one

did manage some off-the-cuff and candid answers my own experience involved interviews with Muttiah Muralitharan and Rahul Dravid - a polite request

was made soon after the interaction to remove bits they feared would be taken out of context, or invite censure from their respective cricket boards.

The day is not far, then, when cricketers will

regularly have their agents stage-manage interviews with them to cut the media out of it altogether –

Kevin Pietersen has clearly shown the way in this post-TextGate interview on YouTube.

The clip, described in the 2013 Wisden Almanack

by Pat Collins as “sensationally awful”, talks of a

“disembodied voice” – his agent’s - feeding him “some gentle full tosses masquerading as questions” that

he answered “with a series of wooden cliches”. As

Collins goes on to suggest, the whole thing reeked of an insincere apology that was unwittingly revealing

of Pietersen’s priorities. Unsurprisingly, the ECB did

not approve. But

had

these

self-

imposed embargoes, stifling

codes of conduct and intense media scrutiny always been

no mic, please The day is not far when cricketers will regularly have their agents stage-manage interviews with them to cut the media out of it altogether.

the case, some of cricket’s most memorable quotes would never have made it past the lips of the game’s

greatest characters. Among them is Jeff Thomson, with no love lost for his English opponents. “Stuff

that stiff upper lip crap,” he once said. “Let’s see how stiff it is when it’s split.”

And here’s another delicious bit of honesty from

Thomson: “It doesn’t worry me in the least to see the batsman hurt, rolling around screaming, and blood

on the pitch.” Now, if only Dale Steyn would be so ‡ kind as to oblige. Anjali Doshi is former cricket editor,

NDTV 24x7, and is currently enjoying cricket from the vast expanse of her living room couch

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


80 − The Sachin Sunset

The wall of

memory In an age when the image, moving or still, is so essential to projecting memory, how will you remember Tendulkar? What will exist outside the frame?

Tarika Khattar

I

have lived in the same room all my life. A small, square room with green walls, the exact shade

of a Nirula’s lime ice cream soda. A window and a cupboard cover two walls; my bed is

against the third and opposite it is a story that

begins on April 25, 1998.

Dodging multiple family members who searched

for the morning paper, I sneaked the Times of India into my room and tore off the front page. I then

proceeded to carefully cut, with scissors too big for my seven-year-old hands, around the dramatically titled “Tornado Tendulkar ‘gifts’ India a perfect present”. It featured a black-and-white long shot

of Sachin Tendulkar in Test whites, bat raised nonchalantly.

I don’t know what made me do it. There I was,

sitting on the floor clutching a pixelated image of a man whose name I couldn’t pronounce, unsure

of what to do. And then it came to me. Scotch tape.

Four long strips, and it was done. The thought of a scrapbook didn’t even cross my mind. Who needed a book, when you had a wall?

“To collect photographs,” wrote Susan Sontag in

the marvellous essay In Plato’s Cave, “is to collect the world.”

This summer, having just graduated from


tarika khattar 81

college and officially transitioned into adulthood, I began, for the first time, to examine my Sachin Wall. It had been

such a constant in my life, as constant

as the man who adorned it, that I

had never given it much conscious

thought. Over the years, I had added a newspaper cutout here, a photograph there; the occasional Sportstar special

edition poster somewhere in the middle. But I had never paused to

consider what it represented. This was the lime green canvas of my childhood, a hundred images that became the

collection of my world. But why did I choose these photographs, these memories, this world?

My eyes find that first article on

the wall, crookedly placed next to a

photograph from the day before. Time

has curled its edges off, faded the ink to a watercolour blur. Tendulkar is

dancing down the track and lofting the

ball over cover as an open-mouthed

lesson on restraint Three photos down is a very different Sachin – Sachin of Sydney. Blurred green stands at the SCG. In the foreground, Tendulkar raises his arms in characteristic fashion towards the heavens.

Adam Gilchrist looks on.

Sharjah. The Desert Storm of ’98.

I remember a lot of yellow. A goateed Damien Fleming perpetually walking

back to his run-up – the memory

of him actually bowling doesn’t

seem to have registered. Red Wills

Sachin of Sydney. Blurred green stands at the SCG.

midwicket. Anything was possible. Any shot could

is so much more to this photograph. The ball crashing

stickers plastered on blue. The flat-batted swat

over a ducking non-striker. The ferocious pull over be played, any bowler could be demolished. This

was the self-belief that came to define a generation, and it began with Sachin of Sharjah.

Three photos down is a very different Sachin –

In the foreground, Tendulkar raises his arms in

characteristic fashion towards the heavens. But there

into Gilchrist’s gloves over and over again. The midwicket boundary. And most of all, restraint. A new

word to associate with a changing man. The same selfbelief expressed not through power, but discipline.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


82 − The Sachin Sunset

It wasn’t until I really played against him that I understood that there was a tiger that lay within him: he was a very competitive little man. - Matthew Hayden

There’s Edgbaston 1996. A YouTube discovery

Cup. As if my 15-year-old self wanted to spare me

at the peak of his natural ability, and a man who

“Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality,”

for me, but one of my favourite Tendulkar centuries.

Here’s Cape Town 1997, and again in 2011. A man succeeded in reinventing himself.

There is so much in between. Here, a back-foot

punch from the 2003 World Cup. Feet withdrawing gracefully into the crease, the sudden spring on to

the toes, the quick back lift to meet the ball and then,

the follow-through frozen in time, a sculpture of batsmanship. It’s the shot that for me, even more than the straight drive, truly marked when he was in form.

One of my favourite photographs is of Tendulkar

defending a short ball. There is nothing remarkable about the image except the moment it captures. A

phenomenal spell of seam bowling from Asif and Gul in Lahore, 2006. India are 12 for 2 with Tendulkar and Dravid at the crease. What follows is one of the

best displays of batting judgement. Patience. The

ability to leave the ball. The humility to respect the bowler. Sachin made 95. India won.

Chennai ’99. All I remember are tears. Multan

2004. Not his 194*, but his celebration after bowling Moin Khan between the legs. December 2005 – the 35th Test century. I was there that day, climbing up the spectator’s cage, floating above the Kotla as if in a dream. I don’t need a photograph to remember that.

And then there are moments I didn’t want

to remember, the deliberate gaps in my wall of

memory. Tendulkar’s captaincy. The 2007 World

the pain in the future, as if the memories existed only in these photographs.

Sontag wrote. “One can’t possess reality, one can

possess images – one can’t possess the present but one can possess the past.”

So I ask myself the question, knowing, like

everyone, that the end is near. Do I need photographs to possess the past? No, not when so much of it exists outside the frame.

My fingers brush against frail paper. The edges

are so carefully cut. I trace the words that had, so

many years ago, inspired me to preserve the past, to keep forever on my wall “the perfect present”. My nails peel back the tape, taking with it part of the wall. Lime green sticks to white.

The wall is now scarred and empty. Every picture

seems to have taken a part of it with it. Cracks of my

childhood. Marks of my memory. Tendulkar-shaped holes in my wall. Just

days

after

Sachin

announced

his retirement, my mother informed me that she was reconstructing part of the house. “Time to

move into a bigger room,” she said. I offered no resistance. If there can ever be a marker for the end of an era, this is it. It’s time. 

Tarika Khattar is a graduate student

at the University of Cambridge


83

The numbers prove

his greatness

When Tendulkar was in the zone, it was all about his batting being in a rarefied air, the format and opposition were mere incidentals

SAURABH SOMANI

I

f you had to describe Sachin Tendulkar’s

international career with the shortest, and most

pithy, phrase possible, it would be ‘length of excellence’. It’s a description that has been used several times when writers try to evoke why

he was one-of-a-kind. So often, in fact, that the sheer

mind-boggling scale of the length of his excellence is perhaps not understood fully. It’s just a recitation of 24 years, X number of cricketers who have come and gone,

Y number of historical facts that have changed while he played.

Ironically enough it is numbers that illustrate just

how dominant his 24-carat international innings has

been. Numbers are comfortably low on priority for

those who took sublime joy from his backfoot cover drive or the rocket straight past the bowler, but one day, when there is a generation who knows Tendulkar

only through videos, numbers will provide the crux of why their grand-parents are likely to get mistyeyed when recalling the boy who square cut in Perth,

the man who sent the ball into the stands at Sharjah,

and the gent who was carried around the shoulders of his teammates at the Wankhede.

There is a remarkable similarity between

Tendulkar’s phases as a Test batsman and as a OneDay International batsman, as evidenced by this

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


84 − The Sachin Sunset

Here’s a snapshot of Tendulkar’s Test career, broken down in phases:

Span

Mts

Inns

No

Runs

Avg

100s

50s

0s

Nov 1989 to Feb 1990

7

10

0

332

32.20

0

3

1

Jul 1990 to Jul 1996

34

50

7

2579

59.98

10

11

2

Oct 1996 to Apr 1997

12

20

1

706

37.16

1

4

1

Aug 1997 to Mar 2005

70

118

13

6517

62.07

23

23

8

Dec 2005 to Jan 2007

12

19

1

534

29.67

1

2

1

May 2007 to Jan 2011

42

73

10

4024

63.87

16

16

1

Jul 2011 to Present

21

37

1

1145

31.81

0

8

0

Overall

198

327

33

15837

53.87

51

67

14

study on the occasion of his ODI retirement. When

almost one and a half times as good as the average

were mere incidentals. There have been only three

order performed over the course of his career. For

Tendulkar was in the zone, it was all about his batting

being in a rarefied air, the format and opposition

serious periods when he wasn’t performing at his

best – when he was first handed the captaincy and

struggled with the demands of the job, when he

battled the most serious of his injuries, and when he reached the final lap.

Offsetting these dips, by a margin as wide as his

bat when in the zone, are the peaks. We call them ‘peaks’ because of the length of his career, but a

cursory look at the time spans shows that they were more extended high-raise plateaus. When Tendulkar

got going, he never seemed to stop. He took a

short while to ease into Test cricket, dusted off the captaincy crisis quickly enough, and took a little longer than that to overcome injuries, but pockets of

months apart, it has been one long, continuous peak for him from November 1989 to January 2011. The

longest

downturn

came

when

the

combination of chasing the 100th ton, being on his last legs and India’s sudden downward turn overseas as a team, became – finally – too much to handle and keep churning out runs.

For huge stretches of his career, Tendulkar was

top-order batsman worldwide in Test cricket. The

more interesting column is how the Indian top the second half, Tendulkar had a galaxy of batting

talent around him in the team, but how the batsmen

did is very closely mirrored to how his own form was. When Tendulkar hit the high notes, he played a significant part in lifting the stats of the entire top

order, and India’s performance was considerably better than average. When Tendulkar was in one of his troughs, India slipped back to towards the mean,

with hardly any difference between their top six and that of the rest of the world – a fact that illustrates just how pivotal Tendulkar has been.

The other length of excellence that was talked

of is best illustrated by picking out the top five batsmen worldwide during each of Tendulkar’s three long peaks.

It is important to remember that the time spans

represented above account for about 80 percent of Tendulkar’s playing career, and of the two decades

and from July 1990 to January 2011, the above covers 85 percent of the total time. With that in mind, you can go ahead and let your jaw hit the floor. Across the majority of two decades, Tendulkar has been in


saurabh somani 85

numero uno For huge stretches of his career, Tendulkar was almost one and a half times as good as the average top-order batsman worldwide in Test cricket.

Here’s how Tendulkar stacked up against the rest of the world during each of his phases.

Span

SRT Avg

World Top 6 Avg

Difference %

India Top 6 Avg

Difference %

Nov 1989 to Feb 1990

33.20

43.72

-24.06

41.60

-20.20

Jul 1990 to July 1996

59.98

37.06

61.85

Oct 1996 to April 1997

37.16

33.73

10.15

Aug 1997 to March 2005

62.07

38.42

61.56

Dec 2005 to Jan 2007 May 2007 to Jan 2011 May 2007 to Jan 2011

29.67

39.08

-24.08

63.87

41.45

54.11

31.81

38.53

-17.46

40.38 33.27 45.43 38.92 49.29 39.15

48.53 11.67 36.61 -23.78 29.58 -18.76

form far more than out, and when he’s been in form,

that it’s impressive nonetheless. The dominance is

be seen by the fact that save Jacques Kallis, no other

seemed to become bigger than 22 years that

he’s been amongst the five best batsmen in the world everytime. How remarkable and difficult that is can batsman makes a second appearance in the tables

above. Granted, the time spans are Tendulkar’s

career centric, but they cover such large swathes

similar to his ODI dominance.

The last two years of struggle have sometimes

preceded it. This is numerical proof, if any was required, of the extent to which Tendulkar sustained ‡ world-beating form.

ISSUE 4, NOVEMBER 2013


86 − The Sachin Sunset

July 1990 to July 1996

Batsman Steve Waugh Brian Lara Sachin Tendulkar Graham Gooch Michael Slater

Tests 42 33 34 41 33

Inns 65 55 50 76 57

NO 16 2 7 1 3

Runs 3019 3197 2579 3926 2611

Avg 61.61 60.32 59.98 52.35 48.35

Tests 70 75 85 81 60

Inns 118 128 144 132 105

NO 13 15 25 20 10

Runs 6517 6657 6997 6493 5460

Avg 62.07 58.91 58.80 57.97 57.47

Tests 31 38 42 38 35

Inns 50 64 73 61 63

NO 1 9 10 11 3

Runs 3238 3517 4024 2984 3539

Avg 68.89 63.95 63.87 59.68 59.98

August 1997 to March 2005

Batsman Sachin Tendulkar Rahul Dravid Jacques Kallis Ricky Ponting Matthew Hayden

May 2007 to January 2011

Batsman Mahela Jayawardene Jacques Kallis Sachin Tendulkar AB de Villiers Virender Sehwag


88 − The Sachin Sunset

Fw Sports And Media India Private Limited Wisden House, 13/A,1St Cross, Lavelle Road Bangalore 560 001, India

Wisden india extra issue 4  

The latest Wisden India Extra focuses on 'The Sachin Sunset' with opinions, articles, inteviews and info graphics chronicling the career of...

Wisden india extra issue 4  

The latest Wisden India Extra focuses on 'The Sachin Sunset' with opinions, articles, inteviews and info graphics chronicling the career of...

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