Tuesday 27 November 2012


While the debate is on all across the country, my mind goes back to a scene from the 2006 movie ‘Superman Returns’. Lois Lane had just won a Pulitzer Prize for her article - ‘Why World doesn’t need Superman’; it is strange that our own cricket’s superman finds a similar situation from the Lois Lane type of admirers. Though, none can come close to being Lois Lane and with that in mind, the personal vent is justified. 

 I thought hard and have been thinking occasionally since the first time I read an article that stated “Endulkar” (after 3rd Test at Karachi, 2006) regarding people’s opinion on him. I was shocked to have read such a headline being made and wondered who would have had the temerity to make such a statement. After all, the author was no Lois Lane to make such statements to our Superman. But statements were made and that were followed up by a host of personalities in the cricketing world giving their two cents as to why Sachin must retire. Technical reasons, personal reasons and every possible reason that one can think of were to be seen or read across the media. He was 33 years and people just didn’t want to see Superman without his powers. They were forcing him to take up the role of ‘Clark Kent’ so that another Superman can flourish. People forgot that, there were places up for grabs for other Superhero spots; no - the focus was and is entirely on Superman.

Circa 2007-2011 - Just like in Superman returns just when people were getting used to the fact that Superman’s powers had waned and thought about moving on without him, a series of performances reinstated the faith and made people believe in him all over again – Cricketing world indeed requires a Superman. Indian cricket required Sachin Tendulkar and if one person who deserves the World Cup, it had to be him was what I heard. And so the wishes came true in front of his home crowd (Mumbai) comparable to Metropolis; the very same venue which had booed him (3rd Test against England in Mumbai, 2006) as though he was a traitor or some sort of criminal. If he didn’t deserve any cheers or applause, it is understandable; but certainly not this sort of disrespect. But such were the standards of Superman that even his own people could not fathom the situation and deserted him in open air visible to all the viewers around the globe. No complaints, he went on.

After having experienced a roller-coaster ride in the last six years, our superman is at that juncture wherein he is forced to take a call. People have moved on with times, we do not have patience anymore and we think everything and every person must be treated in the same way and yet in our professional and personal lives we choose to make clear distinctions. Let’s remove the personal lives and talk only about the professional lives. We talk about him because people would listen or we truly mean by what we say about Tendulkar? Is it true people want to see more of Clark Kent as they are bored of Superman’s adventures?

Quentin Tarantino once quoted – “Superman stands alone. Superman did not become Superman, Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he is Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red S is the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears, the glasses the business suit, that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He's weak, unsure of himself... he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race, sort of like Beatrix Kiddo and Mrs. Tommy Plumpton.” 

Tendulkar was born to bat, circumstances if one could create helped him realise his true potential, and those circumstances and support has been well documented through several interviews from the man himself. I remember once attending an interview of his, live in Mumbai (post World Cup) where he talked about his fears. I vividly recall the words; the situation he was in when he was suffering with tennis elbow. He was speaking about his life - just as Clark Kent would have done. He was unsure and how weak he felt, how he hoped he didn’t end his career through an injury. After having overcome all that, he finds himself in a situation where in he can run, he can hide, but he cannot escape the wrath. The only way out for Clark Kent was to become Superman all over again. And that he did, till about recently.

Personally I like Tendulkar’s cricketing story to be a fairy tale; no not a fairy tale but a super-hero story from which I and many others can get inspired from. Since birth apart from my family, he has been the only constant in my life. Maybe he didn’t inspire me to become a very good cricketer and make a career in cricket (though I wasn’t that bad a cricketer); but he did inspire me to have a dream, work hard to get them and continuously work on it.

And yes, we need heroes to sustain a Sport. Take any sport and ask any person across the world; name a sport you shall hear a hero, or an inspirational athlete and not the rules and regulations. It happened to Michael Jordan, Michael Schumacher and now to Sachin Tendulkar. Jordan’s legacy made a lot of people take up basketball, Michael Schumacher inspired a lot of Germans and others to take up F1 and you can see that with the current crop of F1 drivers (namely fellow German Vettel). The same is true with Sachin, his contribution isn’t just about the numbers; it goes well beyond them. The very team that won the World Cup in 2011 have openly stated Sachin to be their inspiration to take up the sport. Yes, he cannot go on like this forever – we want to embrace the Greek philosophy of living; to make way for the next generation. But who are the worthy contenders?

No matter what accomplishments he would have made, the once well-wishers or his critics will remind him of this – “We ordinary people might lack your great talent or extraordinary cricketing skills, Mr. Sachin, but never underestimate the power of the human mind. We carry the most dangerous weapon on Earth inside these thick skulls of ours.” 

People have indeed unleashed this most dangerous weapon they possess. We in India never praise a team as a whole, only individuals; so guess it is understood on the flip side we criticise an individual and not the team. He is beginning to appear more like Clark Kent; this time sadly it is on the cricket ground.

Irrespective of what happens in the coming days, I believe and I hope to see Superman leaving the cricket ground and not Clark Kent. If fate were to not be like that, all I would like to say this to you Sachin – “You will always be remembered by me as a Superman”. ....... Period