Cricket World Cup Thread
Posted 22 October 2003 - 02:44 PM
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...
Posted 27 October 2003 - 11:13 AM
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.
Posted 29 October 2003 - 04:25 PM
Congrats to the Ozzies on their rout of NZ.
Posted 06 November 2003 - 04:16 PM
Posted 08 November 2003 - 01:34 PM
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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