Why

Why

Sunday, 18 March 2012

100 HUNDREDS IS JUST A NUMBER


It was a day of introspection and honestly I didn't think much about the game (India- Bangladesh) as I had work and safely thought India would win the match. It was late in the night when I checked for scores. India had lost the match and I didn’t think much after that.

Earlier in the day, I had a meeting scheduled at 4 pm with some cricket officials. My manager and I were on time to catch up on few pending issues. Most of them were busy watching cricket and why not I thought. Tendulkar was batting on 89 and it was 5 minutes past four. We sat and thought to ourselves, the meeting would be delayed. I was in a way wanting to watch Sachin bat, like I always do.  If work takes precedence; then I wouldn’t mind switching off as I know I can watch the highlights package. But it so happens I end up being there whenever he has scored a hundred.  That very moment I thought to myself he is going to score a hundred. Ten minutes hence, boss and I had finished our cup of tea but the century wouldn’t come.

Strangely enough all the officials got up and were ready to leave the hall. I was surprised by this act of theirs and in that moment I stood up too (Gosh, what was I thinking????). My boss intervened and said – “Guys, we can do this after he scores a hundred”. Slightly assured everyone got back to their respective chairs and so we continued watching the match. I wondered in between the deliveries about the decision to sit and watch the game and was surprised I actually was ready to leave the hall. My thoughts were interrupted by Sachin’s eagerness to take the quick singles. I had never seen him that nervous and believe me I have watched him bat for a long time in my life. For once I felt he wanted to achieve his milestone in order to attain salvation. This so called ‘100th hundred’ was hurting him and the only way out was to score it. Only a hundred would have given him the freedom and he had 99 of them; but the elusive one was all that mattered. The rest didn’t matter.

Twenty minutes past four and I see him score a boundary and now I was certain he would score. He reached 99 and my thoughts went back to the run out in Ireland, caught behind twice against Pakistan and England. My gut told me he would get it this time. I took out my phone and wanted to record this moment. Two short videos were all I managed to take as he wasn’t able to get that single. Over gone and he had to wait for some more time and everybody had to wait for some more time. Shortly the moment arrived as he promptly nudged the ball to the leg-side, jogged for a single and there you go. His celebrations were minimal but it did carry a point. He pointed his hand to the Indian flag on his helmet and that said it all.

Frankly I didn’t react much and to be honest I wasn’t overly bothered that he achieved something great. I was quietly happy for him and delighted to have witnessed in what might go down as one of the historical moments in cricket. We all got up, did the stadium recce and on our way back saw the local press going bizarre. It was Jaipur and one had press asking questions like - “How do you feel about Sachin scoring his 100th hundred?” I couldn’t hear much as the fire crackers were being burst and next thing I was being stuffed with ladoos, not one but two big ones.
Now, what does this Tendulkar hundred mean?

I have heard a lot of things written and said over the last one year. I was delighted to see his hunger to score runs and his willingness to score the big runs. He still has the passion to play and personally I feel his absence will be felt whenever he chooses to retire. It isn’t the first time in cricket or in a particular team such a situation has occurred; nevertheless his retirement is going to pinch a little extra. Team India should not be affected but the way I will look at cricket will be interesting. I haven’t quite seen cricket without Tendulkar. I know he has been sporadic over the last few years but he was always there and continues to be there. Till when, to be honest I am not thinking much about it at the moment.

I chose to look back on the journey that took him to his 100 hundreds. In my room lazing down, switching channels lying down on a sofa, I flashed back to those moments I remember of Sachin. It is too many to be honest. From the day of shaking his hand as an eight year old and keeping a collection of his photos that appeared in various magazines till the time listening to him speaking about his fears and the worst feelings he had to endure during his playing career last year after the World Cup victory. It was just too much to remember as I eased myself into the present world.

Before going to bed, I asked myself a question – Will I still wake up like I did not so long ago to watch him bat? Or now that he has achieved the milestone, will I take it easy? What a silly question, I thought?

Like him, even I have grown and in this phase of my development I have learnt to celebrate the happy moments in a silent manner. I have read and heard a lot of comparisons of Tendulkar with other cricketers, then this bloke isn’t just another person from the block. He had worthy peers and yet with this milestone (all to himself), he seems to be in zone where he is peerless. The three digit club in the international hundreds column is all his and from the looks of how cricket is going to evolve, it would take some beating to emulate such an achievement. Records are meant to be broken, yet Bradman’s record average is untouched and seems very unlikely to be matched; now this worthy successor of Bradman from Mumbai has just done something very similar. Every rule has an exception; in cricket we now seem to have two exceptions.

In an era where I have been lucky to watch the brute of Ponting, the class of Lara, the toughness of Steve Waugh, the versatility of Kallis and the presence of Wall, none has impressed to the extent Sachin has. There may have been a lot of reasons to this, but one thing that stands out to me is – I have never seen any other cricketer in my generation who has enjoyed the game better than Sachin; this ability of his stands out in a world where we constantly look for reasons or situations to enjoy our life.

Should he retire - another question I am constantly asked being his fan? I feel as his fan, he should never retire. But retiring is a part of every athlete’s career.

Sachin chose to play cricket, work those extra hours in honing the skills, practicing constantly in the nets, to sacrifice the normal teen and adult life, to have managed to come back from career threatening injuries, to modify his technique in combating any errors, learn from the failures and going after his dreams, maintaining integrity, dignity and controversy free life .


When a person has managed to choose many different things that has helped cricket and to an extent a sense of delight to most Indians and cricket lovers across the world, isn’t it right to let Sachin to make that all important final decision? 

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