Friday, November 6, 2009

The heart wept yesterday....

The heart wept yesterday. Not for our country, but for our hero. And unless it was out of sheer exhaustion, I doubt if Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar would have slept yesterday. He is a fiercely private person and in his own private world yesterday night, I suspect he would have reflected on a lost opportunity and maybe, silently shed a tear or two.

Being Sachin Tendulkar would be many times more difficult that all of us can imagine. The man cannot step outside his home for fear of being mobbed by millions of his devotees. And yet, amongst those millions, there is an extremely tiny minority of churlish fans who hold that ultimate grudge against him: he does not perform in high-pressure run chases and take his side to victory. No matter what the statistics might say, this has always been held against the maestro, just like a one-inch long scratch in a corner of a Van Gogh masterpiece. And while Sachin is above all this and hardly needs to respond to any of this mindless chatter, he would certainly have been aware of this (so-called) missing jewel in his crown. And yesterday it all seemed to be finally coming together. The man was batting in a different zone and was well on his way to taking India to what would have been the second highest successful chase in ODI history (behind only that incredible 437 chased by South Africa). And the icing on the cake was that Sachin was well on his way to becoming the first man to score an ODI double-hundred (atleast until Jadeja hit those couple of boundaries). And can you imagine what a fairly-tale ending it would have been ? India 351/6, Sachin 201 not out !!!. In an instant, he would have risen another level in the stratosphere, much above all of us mortals, including the churlish minority. In an instant, he would be permanently abolished any lingering doubts held by anyone about his batting greatness even that the age of 36. In fact, had he been of the emotional variety or of the Sunny Gavaskar school of thought, he would have had half-a-mind to announce his immediate retirement !!!. And while all and sundry readily acknowledged that the 175 was one of the greatest innings of all-time, there is little doubt that 201 not out would have made it THE greatest of all time.

Alas, it was not meant to be that way. And that ill-fated paddle sweep has made its way into cricketing folklore, ranking up there with Gatting's reverse sweep. Only that Gatting's folly impacted the World Cup, while the paddle sweep has meant that a legend, a batting God would still need to live with that finger pointing towards him. Yesterday was one of the great tragedies of sport. Which is why the heart wept yesterday..... :(

~ Amit