Saturday, February 16, 2008
The following is not a tribute to the genius of the Little Champ; it is just a recollection from the last two decades of dominance by this diminutive master-blaster. I am not qualified enough to pay the tributes; I leave the Gavaskers, Shastris and Chappells of the world to do that.
Sachin Tendulkar is an enigma. An Icon. A Legend of today's times. A One-man army who has fought many battles for the country and survived (and won) most of them. They say that in India cricket is a religion, by the same logic, this man is nothing short of GOD. We sure are lucky to be living in todays times when we can see this magician wield his bat.
He is the ONLY player currently who has been playing across three decades.. yes! He made his debut in 1989 against the likes of Wasim and Waqar in Pakistan (Trivia: Sanath Jayasuriya made his debut on Dec 26, 1989, so he sneaks in as well) and has been the backbone of the team ever since.
The life and times of Sachin has been documented by many authors and will continue to be done… that’s not my purpose of writing this post.
The few people who have had the honour of meeting him or even getting his autograph feel enlightened. Now imagine the honour of playing against him, bowling to him and feeding him vada-paos!!!!
Yah! My Boss is an ex-first class cricketer. He was a senior of Sachin-Vinod in local League and Club Cricket and has played with them until they made it big in the international circuit. So here are some interesting pieces of Trivia which he has shared, and I, in turn, am sharing with you all:
# All those who have seen Sachin n Vinod bat in their youth agree, and this includes my boss as well, that Vinod Kambli was infinitely more talented than Sachin. Just that Vinod was a bit of maverick and never took the game seriously(Always after the girls!) while Sachin was in love with the game and his dedication had always been unparallel .
# Sachin & Vinod have an unimaginable Vada-Pao appetite. So much so that every day after the practice session he(my boss) would buy 15 Vada-pao's, seven each for Sachin and Vinod, one for himself. (Its also another story that Vinod Kambli sent 32 vada-pao to sachin when the latter broke Sunil Gavsakar's record of 32 test centuries)
#Every Day Sachin's coach (The great Ramakant Archrekar) would place a coin on his middle stump… and would throw a challenge to all the boys out there.. get him out and take the coin… or else the coin belongs to Sachin. By his own admissions (Also shown in a Adidas commercial), getting that coin everyday meant more to him than all these billions that he earns today.
# Sachin had NEVER gotten hit wicket in his entire career (that’s around 22 years) until the match against Australia some time back.
# His batting practice would stretch till 7 pm everyday.. while Vinod would pack up at 5… and have seeng dana (peanuts). By the time Sachin used to finish, it used to be pitch dark.. and the coin, was in his hand always.
# Sachin NEVER wears a cap while batting, it has to be a helmet, which, according to him, helps him to concentrate better.
I could go on and on about more such anecdotes, but this piece, written by my boss himself (and reproduced here with due permission), would effectively tell you the honour and pride of watching Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar play cricket.
Encounter with the Master Blaster
The word "encounter" itself would put shivers down one's spine. But let me assure you, I am referring to an encounter of a different kind where the guns did blaze and the marksman was right on target. But the only difference was that here there were no casualties.
Well, I am referring to my encounter with India's cricketing Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, which took place way back in 1988. At that time Sachin was just 15 years old.
Sachin had already made lot of runs in school cricket and was a much-talked-about rising star on the cricketing horizon. Sachin's achievements included the then world record partnership of over 600 runs with Vinod Kambli when both these heroes scored a triple century each.
I was keenly looking forward to this Dr Kanga League Cricket Match versus Sasanian Cricket Club, which Sachin was representing. I lost the toss (as usual) and we were put into bat on a wicket drenched with the previous day's heavy downpour. My partner Madhav Bapat (a Rotarian from RC Parleshwar), who is well known in Rotary Cricket Circle, and I began very confidently and after about ten overs, in which we collected some 35 runs, the Sasanian captain signalled to Sachin to get ready to take over the bowling.
Sachin marked his run up. The same 4-5 steps’ run that he takes even today. I was already well set and I thought I had a good chance to tear this little fellow apart and get some quick runs for our team. Sachin moved in with his, now familiar, gentle run and released the first ball. Zooooom! It went past my nose before I could even move my bat. By this time the pitch was drying and it was expected that we would have to face many nasty deliveries. I was prepared for the awkward bounce but what surprised me most was the speed at which the ball went past me. At the non-striker end Madhav Bapat had a sheepish smile on his face. He pointed at his shoulder indicating to me " Don't go by this fellow's skinny look. He has very strong shoulders." A lesson was quickly learnt and thereafter I remained very watchful while facing him. After such a confident start (myself on 65 runs) our team simply folded.
Chasing a target of 165 runs, Sasanian Team also started well. They reached about 40 runs when two wickets fell in the same over and in walked the child prodigy. I promptly circled him with three close-in fielders with myself at silly point to pick up any bat-pad catch. I also resorted to non-stop sledging. Here I must add that I am playing competitive cricket for the past 38 years and on not a single occasion have I indulged myself in any unsporting behaviour. But I guess this was a special occasion. Here was a boy wonder who had plundered the school level bowling and I wanted to check, first hand, whether he was made of real steel and how would he fair among the experienced opponent. Sachin passed this exam with flying colours. During his innings, when my sledging became too much, he gave me a dirty look and the next ball was whacked past me to the extra cover boundary.
What I liked most about his batting that day was his ability to middle every ball and place it between two fielders. Most of his 34 runs came in ones and twos and he also kept every shot along the ground thus, giving absolutely no chance to our bowlers. In short, like a good pupil, he ensured that all the cricketing basics were executed to perfection. When they needed just six runs to win, Sachin decided to win the match in a grand style by trying to hit a six. Unfortunately this ball turned much more than expected and bounced a bit as well. And thus, the ball, instead of sailing over mid-wicket, took the top edge of Sachin's bat and flew straight into the hands of mid off. So ended a neat, clean and unspoilt innings by a champion craftsman who was to become a world-beater in a few years’ time.
This was the beginning of Sachin in a tough cricketing world. And I ensured that he gets his baptism by fire, by resorting to non-stop sledging. Much later I came to know that this innings was to be the foundation on which a huge sky-scraper was built in later years, when I read the book titled "Making of a Test Cricketer" written by Sachin's elder brother Ajit, in which a special mention has been made of this particular innings.
- Pradeep Godbole
The Pic at the top is from what i believe, his best ever innings,vs. Australia at Sharjah, feel free to disagree :)