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#1321 Agnostic

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Posted 22 October 2003 - 02:44 PM

Lessons from the struggles of the great

By Nirmal Shekar




HE played and missed. He played and missed. And, he played and missed. It was almost as if Sachin Tendulkar's bat was programmed to miss the ball, almost as if he was playing blind-folded against Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie at Perth rather than with his eyes wide open against Daryl Tuffey and Ian Butler on a placid Mohali wicket.

The little man widely celebrated in the cricket playing world as the finest batsman of his generation looked like a nervous schoolboy making his Test debut against a pair of fearsome fast bowlers.

Watching India's greatest batsman in the first innings of the Mohali Test was an education, even for a seasoned sports watcher. It might have been a painful experience for the Mumbai maestro's millions of fans and a shocking sight to the average fan but there was more to that innings than what met the eye.

For, the struggles of the great offer us a rare peek at our icons shorn of their ever-present cloak of immortality, a sort of bullet proof vest which sets them apart from us, even from their team-mates.

Labouring Sachin. Toiling Sachin. Struggling Sachin. Vulnerable Sachin. In essence, mortal Sachin. How different all this sounds from Master Blaster Sachin, Invincible Sachin, All Conquering Sachin, all the familiar kudos we can repeat and remember even in deep sleep!

Sport, deep down, often takes on elements of a morality tale; this is precisely why so many of us are addicted to it. It also offers reminders of mortality to the greatest of our heroes from time to time.

The peerless Muhammad Ali sprawled on the floor with an ecstatic gap-toothed Leon Spinks putting his gloved arms up gleefully. Ronaldo playing in zombie mode before being substituted in the 1998 World Cup final against France in Paris. Pete Sampras, slumped in his chair on Wimbledon's court No.2, and staring vacantly at the turf after being beaten by a journeyman called George Bastl in the summer of 2001.

These are just a few unforgettable moments when sporting Gods were violently pulled back down to earth, their vulnerability exposed by unfancied opponents, the humiliation witnessed by millions on television.

Surely, this is the sort of stuff that makes for great television. It is every sports producer's dream-come-true moment. The gut-wrenching emotions, the pathos, the historic significance of the event...you can't ask for more.

How often do you get to see "The Greatest'' flat on his back in the ring, fighting a boxer with no great pedigree or skills? In how many Test matches will you get to see Sachin Tendulkar's bat miss the ball as often as it did in the first innings at Mohali? How many times has the great Pete Sampras lost in the second round at Wimbledon to someone ranked outside the top 125?

There is something about the mortal, all too mortal, struggles of the iconic all-time great champions that turns those moments into unforgettable events loaded with a meaning that goes beyond the strictly defined borders of sport. They tell us something about life itself.

For, it is during these moments that the demi-Gods of sport become one of us, so to say. Until then, they were there and we were here. Those rare moments of vulnerability actually draws them closer to us and makes us believe that we are in it together...in this endless game of sport and life.

On the other hand, it is in these rare moments of despair and defeat that the greatness of a Sampras or a Tendulkar can be truly grasped. If this can happen to Tendulkar, then what amount of talent, hard work and tunnel vision might have helped the great man achieve all that he did and steer clear of this sort of abyss for the most part of his glorious career?

And, even on Sunday, when the little man went to work in factory shop floor uniform rather than in an Armani suit and Hermes tie, he was, in a way, a joy to watch.

And the satisfaction came from the fact that he displayed remarkable character to stick around on a day when he was completely out of form. He simply refused to accept the truth: which was, his form had deserted him.

Instead, Tendulkar fought manfully, fought reality and a bunch of determined opponents at once. He just would not accept defeat. That was alien to his nature, that would have been a travesty of everything he has stood for in his long and eminently successful career.

It was this strength of character that saw Ali being celebrated even in defeat. It was this virtue which saw Sampras toil like Joe Nobody against George What's-his-name? at Wimbledon two years ago.

And, it is precisely because of all this even a struggling Tendulkar has lessons to offer.



When geniuses fail to click...
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#1322 zxb

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Posted 22 October 2003 - 10:02 PM

Banga 203ao, Pommies 111/0. I have put some money on us to win, but baring the weather conditions there, I'm already regretting it.:confused: :eek: :(
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#1323 traveller

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Posted 23 October 2003 - 01:15 PM

Hmmm

Poms held to 295 Can the Bangas make a score?
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#1324 zxb

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 02:54 PM

So, India have slammed over 280 runs against the slightly weakened Oz pace attack. 2 centurions. But, a solid start by Gilly and Hayden may see them home. Could be quite an exciting run chase. :)
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#1325 tedward

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 07:29 PM

pah,

For a second before i realised I looked down the Aussie scorecard to see how waugh did.
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#1326 xagversum

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 07:56 PM

M P Vaughan not out 81 116 12 0
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#1327 Agnostic

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Posted 27 October 2003 - 11:13 AM

As usual, Tendulkar got his ton but it was Laxman's innings that was a treat to watch. No Lee, no McGrath, no Dizzy Gilespie, and no Steve Waugh, but it was Australia all the same.
Brad Hogg showed guts. Bichel was overawed by the bursting of crackers all around. Playing in India during Diwali when people burst crackers all the time is a bit like playing at the US Open where planes fly overhead when someone serves.
Possible, but you need practice.
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#1328 zxb

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 04:25 PM

Cricket in New Zealand gets more like football every day. :D

Congrats to the Ozzies on their rout of NZ. ;)
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#1329 tedward

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 02:58 PM

You cant take anything away from the india victory the other day - it was still a very good australian bowling attack imo. It was the aussie batsmen who let the side down more than anything else.
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#1330 traveller

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Posted 01 November 2003 - 04:37 PM

Aussie bats din't fail today:D
sorry Ag, Sachin couldn't hold the side together!
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#1331 zxb

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Posted 01 November 2003 - 04:41 PM

The Ozzies are strong again! Take cover!!!
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#1332 Agnostic

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Posted 02 November 2003 - 04:48 PM

It is going to be an interesting triseries. The Kiwis always do better against Oz when they play away from home, and Fleming is quite capable of asking his bowlers to bowl underarm if he could.:)
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#1333 traveller

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 02:51 PM

Aussies just sqeeked by over the Kiwis. Too many extras! Kiwis had some tight bowling there, looks like.
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#1334 Agnostic

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Posted 04 November 2003 - 02:25 PM

Something about leaving NZ makes the Kiwis behave like eagles. A great match to watch. Ozzies squeaked through, but only just... This Kiwi team is getting better all the time.:cool:
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#1335 zxb

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 01:17 AM

Zimbabwe look quite cosy with over 500 runs on the board. Pity that their bowlers probably won't be able to capitalise in it. :(
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#1336 traveller

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 04:16 PM

Good match for the Kiwis. Windies struggling to avoid the follow on, though. Spoke to a customer in Jamaica this morning, lamenting their team, but expectations are high for the future. Re the next world cup, the deal is finally solid so twill be a good Cup. Will we have a game in Orlando, but?
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#1337 zxb

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 08:25 PM

I read that a practise ball was ground into the pitch by the heavy roller in Ceefax. Next door golf course had to supply a bit of turf to refill the hole. :D

Perhaps if they had left the hole there Zim would have had an innings victory by now.
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#1338 traveller

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 02:41 PM

Young Flintoff does it again. 4-14 55NO. He's taking a good leaf out of the Aussie book:)
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#1339 zxb

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 11:23 PM

If he keeps this great form up then we really have a genuine world class all rounder. :)
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#1340 traveller

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 01:34 PM

Indeed,z. Let's hope he stays healthy! Poms now have the core of a solid team. Bring on the next Ashes!
Windies struggling; my Jamaican mate says it will be a draw, but I think that's wishful thinking. If they lose over there, then they will be very demoralized to face the aussies next summer, m'thinks.;)
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