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The incredible Sachin Tendulkar
Mumbai’s favourite son and India’s premier citizen, Sachin Tendulkar, finally did it; he scored his hundredth hundred. The collective sigh of relief could be heard in every cricketing quarter but probably nowhere more so than in India. In a career that has spanned some 22 years and that is still in progress, he has achieved what is unlikely to be equalled much less surpassed by any one.
It is difficult to think of any sportsman/woman who has so outperformed his/her rivals. It would be like Usain Bolt dominating the field, as he is doing now, over four or five Olympic Games. There are ten batsmen who have scored 40-plus international hundreds. Tendulkar leads his nearest rival, the Australian Ricky Ponting, who is coming to the end of his illustrious career, by 29 centuries. Our own Brian Lara has scored 53 and is fifth on the list.
Interestingly, most of Tendulkar’s career coincided with the period when the Aussies were the dominant force and he has scored most of his centuries against them at the rate of about one every seven innings, a total of 20. The fact that he did not get one against them in India’s recent miserable tour of Australia must have weighed heavily on his mind. Many have commented that he took just over a year to score the one century he needed to get to the landmark and indeed the negative comments were finding their way to the press.
These ignored the reality that no team wanted to be the one against which this record was made. They all really applied every known tactic and strategy, particularly when he looked like he was on the way to scoring it. The bowlers became more energised and incentivised as was the case with Ravi Rampaul, when he dismissed him in the nineties, in the West Indies last tour of India.
Outing the great man normally is incentive enough for any bowler, but getting his wicket before he scored the landmark century was an invaluable prize. As incredible as is his performance on the playing field, the off-field one is even more incredible. In a land where cricketers can achieve god-like status and where a sense of hierarchy is engrained, he has remained a simple, humble person.
A common sentiment echoed by all those who have played with him, on his team or on the opposing, is his gentlemanly conduct. He allowed neither his status nor wealth to change him nor did abuse any privileges bestowed on him. The focus and dedication he demonstrated in perfecting his art is really worthy of emulation by all aspiring sports people. Too often, many are quickly seduced by the adoration that comes with success and quickly fall to the wayside before achieving their full potential.
Sustained discipline and focus are what are necessary for success at the highest level, which seem to be lacking in West Indian cricket. Many promising cricketers are unable to maintain their dedication and focus, the outstanding exception being the under-appreciated Shivnarine Chanderpaul. One would think that he would have been viewed as a role model but maybe the ethos of calypso/“collapso” cricket negates that outcome and West Indian cricket is worse off for it.
It is hoped that the likes of Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine, who presumably have already drawn upon the experience of Brian Lara, emulate the “Little Master” and indeed seek his advice on staying focused for not only one or two series but for the long haul. West Indian cricket would stand to benefit from such.
The magnificent achievement of Sachin Tendulkar demonstrates what great heights can be attained if we remain true to our intrinsic human nature, simplicity, humility and perseverance, in our quest for success. Great leaders, in fields ranging from sports, academia and politics, are so characterised: Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Tendulkar.
Congratulations to “Saikarowalla” Tendulkar!
• Prakash Persad is the director of Swaha Inc
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