Yes, I had heard people say this before when they used to blame you for the lack of a good second innings score in a test matches or the inability to finish off the match single handedly & other stuff like that. I initially thought they were people who lacked the basic knowledge of cricket. But alas! Today you have to prove them all right by scoring your 100th ton against a team like Bangladesh on a typical sub-continent pitch where a ball going above the waist can be termed a bouncer! & yeah, there can be no perfume balls on these pitches… instead, the bowler can have blue balls if the red cherry is there to be hit straight at him! I can rest assure you that the number of people who wanted you to retire would’ve multiplied by AT LEAST 10 times, if not 100 times. I figured 10 & 100 would make sense to all the readers here who know about the ‘little master’ & hence those benchmarks.
What joy does a century like this give to you I ask. Was this the ultimate milestone you wanted to achieve at the cost of a team’s fortunes? Is this the kind of legacy you want to leave behind to those looking for a berth in the national team? You were close to being listless on the tour to the land down under & then, you were completely listless on the England tour. Now, by scoring this ‘coveted’ 100th against Bangladesh, you have given more fodder to people to not only talk about you Mr. Tendulkar, but also about a nation which has the habit of going in for lesser glory than looking at the bigger picture. Maybe I can bring in a comparison between the 1st family of India (you can ignore the puppet granny who’ll be kicked out in July) the Gandhis & Tendulkar. No matter what you talk about this Gandhi family (let’s not debate on how a certain Ghandy turned into a Gandhi), they’ll always have chamchas eating out of their hands. Likewise, Tendulkar has had BCCI do the same (yeah, harsh comparison… sorry to his followers, but such is the rage at this moment). Imagine this scenario – Tendulkar on 99 in today’s match… bowler at the start of the run up… Tendulkar pulls out just before the bowler’s delivery stride… walk away from the field retired hurt. Filmy? yeah… sure is! But then again, imagine the kind of respect he would’ve garnered from one ‘n all, young ‘n old, Gavaskars ‘n Chappells, the whole world ‘n Pakistan (sorry, I’m pushing it now… no offense meant)… sending out a message to Pakistan for the next two matches – ‘here I come again, watch out!’ This is where we Indians fall behind the rest of the world I guess… catching the opponents by their balls, looking in their eyes & conveying the message ‘Don’t take me for granted’, without even having to say it! This is where I admire Rahul (no, not the Gandhi)… he had the courage to take on the best, look straight into their eyes, grind them out & win the battle. And then came a day where he thought he couldn’t carry on with the same vigour & decided to call it a day without people having to ask him about his retirement. Mark of a true sportsman… putting the team ahead of himself. If you analyze the tour of England & Australia, it seemed like the whole team was weighed down by the expectations of a certain individual’s milestone. They say, two things drive a man – inspiration & desperation. Today, I was inspired to write this looking at another man’s desperation to reach a landmark.
I’ve always been a team man & I do respect individual efforts. I don’t deny the fact that Tendulkar’s contribution to the game of cricket has been immense. But when you know you are not performing to the mark and it is affecting the team , a man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do… hang up your boots, call it quits! Co-existence or putting such things on the back burner are not at all options in this case. What counts is not how you get those 100×100, it’s how to get into that 6x3ft pit that really counts. I see people putting up status messages on their social networking sites that they will retire from watching cricket. Oh yeah? I’ll call you guys to check on the Indo-Pak score & lemme hear you guys say that you are away from your TV screens.
On a lighter note, heard that the men’s saloons have picked up business big time since Tendulkar’s 100th. Gone are those curls… now, let’s not go below the belt please!
And now, Mr. Tendulkar… what’s the next milestone? I heard Priyanka Chopra beat you on twitter… go get her tiger!!!