Sachin Tendulkar - My God
“Sachin Tendulkar – Reducing the number of atheists since 1989.”
“God wanted to play cricket and Sachin was born.”
“I have seen God and he bats at No. 4 for India in Tests.”
“Sachin is a genius, I’m a mere mortal.”
There’s not one, not two, there are countless number of such banners that have appeared in the stadiums across the world and countless number of comments that have been made. These are not mere personified words born off the pen of an ardent fan of Indian cricket, but the ones to pen these down, were never in fact fans of Indian cricket. They were fans, or rather devotees, of one man called Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. So was I. You ask a billion Indians and most of them would give you the same answer. There are expert panels who debate if such ardent devotion to him is justified. Every other day, you would find a newspaper headline ‘Is an individual greater than the game?’ Of the infinitesimal times they debated on it again and again, there was one conclusion that resounded in a thousand minds listening to it. Although, it was just the so-called experts who could never get it, ‘Yes! Sachin Tendulkar is greater than the game itself’. For these billions to whom they were referring to, there was no cricket until there was Sachin Tendulkar. There are reasons why this man became God, a deity, to a nation or rather to the world.
As a toddler at home, my earliest memory of both cricket and Sachin remains my dad rushing home from work in the evening, snatching the remote, and switching the channel to watch the match and asking mum what Sachin’s score was. I don’t even remember how old I was then or what was the reply my mom gave. This was the ambiance that almost every single child of this generation in India grew up in. As I became older, that image of a five foot five inch man with his hands raised and vision fixed towards the heavens had come to symbolize everything that cricket meant for me. The first bat that is thrust into the hands of a kid playing cricket was a plastic one with an imprint of Sachin’s image on it; trump cards had Sachin’s image on the covers; that familiar chant of his name separated by three claps every time he was on the field; that spontaneous reaction of switching off the television the moment Sachin was out were familiar to every child. At that age, Sachin, for me, symbolized victory, as was the belief: if Sachin plays well, India wins, if not, God save Cricket. Just like Harsha Bhogle once remarked, ‘Sachin plays well, India sleeps well.’
With time, as I began to understand Cricket better, I understood what legends have done for Cricket; the beauty of a delivery swinging in the air, edging past the bat, taking its nick and settling right in the keepers gloves; those toe crushing yorkers; that delivery swinging late to send the middle stump flying, the beauties that only the greats like Glenn McGrath, Wasim Akram, or the modern day great as a certain Dale Steyn could bowl; the aura of a ball pitching well outside leg-stump ripping to hit the off stump, the deadly googlies that the likes of Shane Warne or Mutthiah Muralitharan alone could bowl; the fear that a certain Viv Richards would generate in the minds of any bowler; the artistic leg glance from the Very Very Special Laxman; the seemingly impossible shot through the off-side born out of the bat of Sourav Ganguly; the impeccable, rock-solid defense of Rahul Dravid; the pull shot by Ponting – these were things that could give you goosebumps.
But then there was Sachin Tendulkar who could do more than that. Like the others, he didn’t have one shot to his name going down in the books to show the world the way it should be played. As a matter of fact, if the others had a shot going down by their name in that book, Sachin Tendulkar actually went on to author the book: the picture-perfect straight drive, that awesome cover drive, the treat to the eyes that the pull shot was, the innovative “upar” cut and of course, the helicopter shot that is now more attributed to Dhoni are amongst many others of his impeccable technique of playing the game. He could delay a train, bring a whole nation of billions to a standstill, mind you, make the world switch on their televisions and switch off their lives.
There were gems that were born out of the bat of the greats of Cricket, like the 194 of Saeed Anwar, the 183 by Sourav Ganguly, the 400* by the great Brian Lara or say the 175 by Kapil Dev. But then, there was Sachin Tendulkar, who would script such wonders every now and then; say the 98 against Pakistan during the 2003 World Cup, that 141 against Kenya fighting his emotions to serve the nation, that 186 that for a long time remained his highest score, the 175 against Australia at Hyderabad, the 1st double century in ODIs at Gwalior, the desert storm at Sharjah and many more. With all this, Sachin certainly had to be something greater that the legends. Yes, he certainly is.
Sachin Tendulkar is the God of cricket.
As some one once remarked during commentary,
“Sachin Tendulkar… A Legend amongst the Legends… A deity amongst the Lords…”