Talented but not a legend - Why Virat Kohli can never be another Sachin Tendulkar
Flash from the past:
Summer of 1998. Temperatures at that time of the year soared well above 40 degrees Celsius in most parts of India. But the Australians faced a desert storm in Sharjah which had nothing to do with this hot Indian weather.
Sachin Tendulkar was tearing the Australian bowling attack apart. Two centuries in one week and suddenly India was a better place to live in than usual!
I clearly remember; I was in the 4th standard and there were smiles everywhere, not a care in the world for anyone for a brief period of time. It seemed to me as if every care that we Indians had at that time, were being carried by the Australian bowling attack instead; and that man Tendulkar gave us a few hours of pure unbridled joy, of the sort that generally evades every middle class Indian man for a very long period of time, in working hard and earning bread for himself and his family.
That was what Indian cricket was all about. About larger than life individuals, who were considered to be no less than reincarnations of Gods. Cricketers who not only brought glory to India as a nation, but who set great examples of humility, poise and dignity at the same time, things long been lost in time as far as Indian cricket is concerned.
The big 3:
Sachin Tendulkar, a mention of whose achievements can clearly take this article way off track simply because of the number of records that he has broken, led this army of Gods. When chosen to captain the side, he himself stepped down saying that he was not doing justice to the job, a feat I don’t think is possible in the current set-up.
Saurav Ganguly followed next, and was the pioneer of blooding aggression in Indian cricket, leading by example and never backing down against a challenge. Rahul Dravid, whose achievements were overshadowed by the simplicity which the man possessed. I remember reading an article about the man way back in 1999, who despite so many endorsements, owned a simple Maruti Esteem, which spoke volumes about the man’s character. He was Mr. Dependable in every sense of the word; whether he was asked to open the batting, keep wickets or lead the side, he had done it all, and that too without a single complain.
The examples are endless, the stories heart-warming. Those were different times, the golden period of Indian cricket as far as I am concerned. The Indian cricket team was no superpower in world cricket, but the the cricketers were of different breed altogether. And when I compare those cricketers to the present day ones, I am sad to say I am deeply disheartened.
And then, there is Virat Kohli:
In the present day scenario, there is Virat Kohli, one of the most destructive and consistent batsmen in world cricket at the moment. His talent is unquestionable, his performance magnificent. You would certainly want him to be the next big thing for Indian cricket as a fan, and he already is I guess. But then when he is compared to Sachin Tendulkar, I get a sudden jolt, a sharp realization.
Did Sachin Tendulkar stoop so low ever, as hurling abuses on the cricket field? He bore the brunt of sledging during the late 90s, right till the day he retired, but he let his bat do the talking. I cannot imagine him throwing away his bat in anger if he got a wrong decision from the umpire or was dismissed early, a picture way too common with Kohli.
Humility – a quality Kohli lacks:
Dada was also a fighter on the cricket field. He did not let anybody get the better of him. But he did not hurl abuses like Kohli, or used them as conjunctions for that matter! Rahul Dravid, one of the stalwarts of Indian cricket for so long, who achieved so much, and did so much for Indian cricket, yet never ever did anyone realize how astonishing a career he was having. The reason? He never thought too much of himself, did he? He just went out there and did his job, day in day out! A lesson Kohli would do well to learn.
The thing is, after the golden generation of cricketers like Sachin, Saurav, Dravid etc., each and every Indian cricket fan was looking for a new idol, a new demi god, and plenty of fans found solace in Virat Kohli. In a country where you need to have a superhero in cricket, Virat Kohli seems to be the perfect option; but to me he just isn’t.
Yes, we all just want him to keep on batting, tear the opposition bowling apart, but then he suddenly throws one of his usual tantrums: shows the finger to somebody, or pushes somebody or abuses somebody and we suddenly miss Sachin Tendulkar so much! And besides, Kohli hasn’t exactly been through a rough patch as yet.
I am not questioning his talent and ability, but surely, you cannot judge a player’s temperament unless and until he’s been down and out. That is where humility steps in, a quality Virat seems to lack.
Virat Kohli is super talented, yes. But I’ve said this over and over again, there shall never be another Sachin Tendulkar!