Can any­one ever match the legacy of the ‘Lit­tle Mas­ter’?

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

SACHIN TEN­DULKAR fi­nally re­tired in 2013, but the out­pour­ing of emo­tion at the end of his il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer could not dis­guise cricket’s on­go­ing strug­gle to com­bat the men­ace of spot-fix­ing.

At the age of 40 and fol­low­ing his 200th Test, Ten­dulkar, bowed out last month with more than 34 000 in­ter­na­tional runs to his name, plus most of cricket’s ma­jor bat­ting records.

Be­yond the sta­tis­tics, the fact he was so out­stand­ingly good for so long since his de­but as a teenager in 1989, and yet so level-headed, hav­ing been raised to the sta­tus of a near de­ity by so many of his ador­ing fans, were both re­mark­able achieve­ments.

“Cricket will go on and records will be bro­ken, but there will never be a player like Sachin again,” said Kapil Dev, In­dia’s first World Cup-win­ning cap­tain. “He was truly one in a bil­lion. We should cel­e­brate his re­tire­ment, not re­gret it.”

Not long af­ter Ten­dulkar re­tired, fel­low Mum­bai bats­man Ro­hit Sharma showed there was life af­ter the “Lit­tle Mas­ter” by emu­lat­ing the great man in scor­ing only the third one- day in­ter­na­tional dou­ble hun­dred, against Aus­tralia.

The na­tional mood was rather dif­fer­ent when Ten­dulkar’s for­mer team­mate, Shan­thaku­maran Sreesanth, was ar­rested by Delhi po­lice and, in May, taken to court on al­le­ga­tions he’d been bribed to con­cede an agreed num­ber of runs in the coun­try’s cashrich In­dian Pre­mier League.

Sreesanth and two other crick­eters were re­leased on bail, protest­ing their in­no­cence.

Mean­while, for­mer Bangladesh cap­tain Mo­ham­mad Ashra­ful con­fessed to match-fix­ing in his coun­try’s Twenty20 tour­na­ment, while for­mer New Zealand bats­man Lou Vin­cent said he was one of three for­mer Black Caps be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for al­leged match-fix­ing.

On the field, In­dia pounded Aus­tralia 4-0 and prob­lems in­ten­si­fied for Aus­tralia when opener David Warner was left out of the side for the first two Ashes Tests for punch­ing Eng­land’s Joe Root in a Birm­ing­ham bar. More con­tro­versy arose when Aus­tralia coach Mickey Arthur was sacked just weeks be­fore the Ashes, where Eng­land bats­man Ian Bell made up for top-or­der col­lapses by scor­ing cen­turies in Eng­land’s three vic­to­ries.

Cricket’s urge to want its play­ers to up­hold the “spirit” as well as the rules of the game and its fraught re­la­tion­ship with tech­nol­ogy came to­gether when Eng­land bats­man Stuart Broad re­fused to “walk” dur­ing the first Test at Trent Bridge.

New Aus­tralia coach Dar­ren Lehmann ac­cused Broad of “bla­tant cheat­ing” and en­cour­aged Aus­tralia’s fans to make him cry dur­ing a re­turn se­ries where the spite­ful at­mos­phere had been ex­ac­er­bated by the un­usu­ally short gap be­tween Ashes se­ries.

Eng­land’s re­peated fail­ure to make 400 in the first in­nings caught up with them in crush­ing de­feats in Bris­bane, Ade­laide and Perth where re­called left-armer Mitchell John­son, one of the few gen­uine fast bowlers left in the game, starred and Aus­tralia cap­tain Michael Clarke showed his en­dur­ing class with the bat.

Eng­land also had to cope with see­ing se­nior bats­man Jonathan Trott re­turn home af­ter the first Test with a stress-re­lated ill­ness.

Else­where, South Africa de­feated Pak­istan 3-0 at home and drew 1-1 with them in the United Arab Emi­rates to re­main top of the Test rank­ings.

Yet what should have been a show­piece se­ries be­tween South Africa and sec­ond-placed In­dia was re­duced to two Tests from three by the Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia, still smart­ing at al­legedly poor treat­ment they re­ceived from Ha­roon Lor­gat when the Cricket South Africa chief ex­ec­u­tive held a sim­i­lar po­si­tion at the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil.

World 50-over cham­pi­ons In­dia also proved their play­ing strength by win­ning the elite Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy, de­feat­ing hosts Eng­land in the fi­nal of what the ICC said would be the last edi­tion of the tour­na­ment.

Zim­babwe en­joyed only their fifth vic­tory against a ma­jor Test na­tion when they beat Pak­istan in Septem­ber.

Be­low Test level, Ire­land be­came the first side to win three ICC tour­na­ments in three dif­fer­ent for­mats in the same year, un­der­lin­ing the awk­ward ques­tion of what else they must do if they are to stop los­ing lead­ing play­ers to near neigh­bours Eng­land, while war-torn Afghanistan’s as­ton­ish­ing rise con­tin­ued with qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the 2015 World Cup. – Sapa-AFP

DIS­GRACED: Mo­ham­mad Ashra­ful ad­mit­ted that he had fixed matches.

ONE IN A BIL­LION: In­dia’s ever-green Sachin Ten­dulkar re­tired this year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.