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The Murder of the Tendulkar Critic

14000 does not have the weighty sound of ten thousand or the mythical ring of 15K. If you think about it, the number is not even symmetrical. Yet, if one goes by the splash made at Chinaswamy when Tendulkar notched up that historic run – one would imagine a meteor had slammed into an ocean brimming with tears of joy.

Not that I cried. I was largely composed except that bit of jumping up and down like a firecracker gone rogue in an ammunition dump. The crowd was deafening, and having been to stadiums bigger and fuller – I could not help but wonder in surprise about the noise we were all making. I took a moment, grabbed a railing and closed my eyes. Like is the case everywhere in the world, we had started cheering as soon as he had come to the crease. The fact that local boy Dravid had to get out to enable another hero’s arrival was lost on the crowd who went berserk as soon as the familiar site of the champion striding in, followed by a slight glance at the sky was played out.

But the 14K run was but another stroke in a masterpiece stretching over years of color was it not?

Yet, on 10/10/10 there was something primordial in the screams of the Tendulkar Generation. We were not celebrating another landmark. The followers were simply shouting down any critic who had doubted the one truth of our era.

The one truth. Tendulkar makes us happy. Like no one else in this country.

We were saying look at us! Look at us in these shaking stands, at these crowded bus stops, us in front of these marble walls and inside these leaking huts. We have been sitting here for the past twenty years, and we are still having the last laugh. And then 14000 did not seem asymmetrical anymore. The impish rascal did it again.

Pure joy aside, it is difficult to forgive the Manjrekar’s who tried to stay relevant by conjuring up catchy phrases like elephants in dressing rooms at a point when the master was merely brilliant and not his usual great.

Well, Holier than Thou, Mr more Technical than a user guide – the thing about elephants is that they present a large target for the local weasels to throw stones at. They usually ignore what is hurled at them but once they turn around and look you in the eye, you better start questioning your own existence. An existence based entirely out of the constant demand by hundred odd news channels for voices and opinions. Expert or otherwise.

Exactly four years after I first wrote about why The Genius should be left alone, at what some may call the lowest peak in a career of Himalayan heights – I think it is safe to say that the worst is over. The Buchanans have been taught how to bat in the amusing Twenty Twenty version, and the Ian Chappels have been told that retirement is something which only certain commentators should consider. Not that they were worth the reply, but it was definitely worth the point made.

The critic has not been silenced this time, he has been Murdered. Not by fans through emotions spawned from years of straight drives, cuts, pulls and humility – or through fancy slogans painted on cheap chart paper – but by the master artist himself. And Sachin has not done it through a PR agency led image makeover, or flash bang performances in front of cheer leader laced spectators. He has done it the only way he knows.

Runs. A lot of runs.

It was fitting that he got most of these runs while whitewashing the Australians. No wonder the Oz athletes threw the washing machine out of tower number eight screaming his name. It really could not have happened against a better opposition. They so deserved to be in the moment. The sight of the men from down under, home to perhaps his most informed fans and critics alike, having to clap for another moment of his genius was like a double jackpot. It was like going on a date with a beautiful number, and discovering that she is paying for the dinner.

Ok I admit it.

I did shed a couple of tears when he raised his hands. But I will blame the dirt kicked up by the carcass of the critic hitting the ground – after the Elephant in the dressing room had turned and stamped his authority once again.

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