Ten­dulkar lovefest ab­surd

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

The cricket world is in Sachin Ten­dulkar over­load. In­dia’s Lit­tle Mas­ter, as cricket jour­nal­ists re­peat­edly call him, is about to play his fi­nal test, against the West Indies in Mum­bai.

It’ll be his 200th test, by far the record.

When added to his 463 one-day in­ter­na­tion­als (also the record) and one Twenty20 in­ter­na­tional, it’s clear what a fix­ture 40-year-old Ten­dulkar has been on the world stage.

He has pro­gressed from the 16-year-old cherub who made his test de­but against Pak­istan in 1989 – be­fore he shaved – to the idol of a na­tion.

Gen­er­a­tions of In­dian cricket fol­low­ers have asked day af­ter day: ‘‘Is Ten­dulkar still bat­ting?’’ Aus­tralians asked the same ques­tion dur­ing Don Brad­man’s ca­reer.

But even for Ten­dulkar, the hype sur­round­ing his im­pend­ing farewell has been ex­treme.

The In­dian cricket board man­aged to slip in a two-test tour by the West Indies, so Ten­dulkar could reach 200 tests and could play his fi­nal match on his home ground.

Cricinfo, the world’s lead­ing cricket web­site, has a spe­cial ‘‘Farewell to Ten­dulkar’’ sec­tion.

Some of the sto­ries in that sec­tion are headed ‘‘Sachin the Epic War­rior’’, ‘‘The Supreme Right-han­der on the Planet’’, ‘‘Idol Wor­ship’’, ‘‘A Zen Mas­ter’’, ‘‘The One-Man Hap­pi­ness Box’’, ‘‘The Saint’’ and ‘‘A Sin­gu­lar Icon’’. Noth­ing un­der-stated in there! The man him­self has al­ways shied away from ex­ces­sive praise and does not seem to suf­fer from an in­flated ego. Oth­ers can’t re­strain them­selves. Many are call­ing him­self the sec­ond- great­est bats­man of all­time, af­ter Brad­man. Some are cit­ing his num­bers ( 51 test cen­turies, 49 one- day cen­turies, most test and one-day runs) and plac­ing him ahead of The Don. Not to me. I salute Ten­dulkar’s longevity – a test ca­reer of nearly 24 years – though he’s only fifth on the all-time list, seven years be­hind Eng­land all-rounder Wil­fred Rhodes.

And I ac­knowl­edge that Ten­dulkar was a beau­ti­ful player, bal­anced, light on his feet, brave. But the best? Or the sec­ond best? Has Ten­dulkar been bet­ter than con­tem­po­raries such as Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting and Jac­ques Kal­lis?

Play­ers should be judged by their prime. Ten­dulkar has been in a long, gen­tle slide (no test cen­tury for three years and a bat­ting av­er­age of 38.3 in his last 39 in­nings), and Ponting also played on too long.

Of the mod­ern greats, I place Lara top. He didn’t have a strong bat­ting lineup around him, as the other three did. He also played the most mem­o­rable and match­win­ning in­nings.

He was thrilling and dar­ing, a player peo­ple ev­ery­where would pay to watch, just in case it was his day.

Since World War II, has Ten­dulkar been bet­ter than De­nis Comp­ton, Peter May, Neil Har­vey, Graeme Pol­lock, Barry Richards, Greg Chap­pell, Ever­ton Weekes, Garry Sobers, Viv Richards, Mo­ham­mad Yousuf and Su­nil Gavaskar? He was won­der­ful, but so were they. In the Ten­dulkar lovefest, it’s not enough to say that. He has to be el­e­vated – ab­surdly – to the great­est ever. It’s mad­ness.

Photo: REUTERS

Leg­end de­parts: Sachin Ten­dulkar is about to play his fi­nal test match.

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