Those people who know me and the very few people who care to read my blog think that I am a big Sachin Tendulkar adversary. I have often been accused of being biased against him, of deliberately writing about his shortcomings and ignoring his tremendous contributions to the game.
On the contrary, I admire Tendulkar tremendously. I have always maintained that when it comes to skill and ability, Tendulkar stands alone. Technically he is close to perfection and his stroke making capabilities are second to none. Only Vivian Richards and Brian Lara can come close to matching his batting abilities.
However being a great player, and perhaps the best ever, does not make anybody immune to criticism. This is where I and million others differ. Tendulkar is no god and he is not bigger than the game of cricket. He is a magnificent player who has achieved success through hardwork, dedication and tremendous discipline. He will have ups and downs and because he is such a great player, his ups will be more than his downs. Like all other players, he needs to be congratulated for his ups and critised for his downs. The rules are same for everyone or atleast should be the same for everyone.
To be fair to Sachin, he has always maintained that the he is not bigger than the game. To be fair to Sachin, the hype around his land marks was created by the media. Sachin has always played the game the way it should be played. It is not his fault that his supporters have sometimes lost perspective and reason while supporting him. Unfortunately it is crime in this country to express an opinion against the great Sachin Tendulkar. Atleast according to his supporters.
That apart, a hundred hundreds is a tremendous achievement, something that no one will ever achieve. Even more remarkable is the time span between his first and last (till date) hundred. Tendulkar scored his first international hundred in August 1990 and last hundred has been scored in March 2012. Effectively this means that he has been at his peak for twenty two years. That is a staggering achievement, an achievement which propels Tendulkar to be a modern day sporting great ,comparable with any great sportsman.
However by being obsessed about his numbers, his supporters are doing a great disservice to Tendulkar. For Tendulkar’s greatness lies beyond numbers. His greatness lies in the fact that for twenty years he made a nation believe that the impossible could be achieved if he was around. His greatness lies in the fact that throughout his playing a career, a nation divided by caste, creed, ideologies and religion only came together when he was batting. His greatness lies in the fact that for the first 12 years of his career he made a mediocre team look good and compete with the best in the world in all conditions. His greatness lies in the fact that his adversaries respected him and had no qualms in accepting that he was better than them. His greatness lies in the fact that countries which resisted playing India and touring India changed their perspective towards this country only because he was playing. His greatness lies in the fact that he inspired an entire generation of great batsman who changed the history of Indian cricket.
His greatness lies in the fact that he made a nation believe in his team when it was suffering from a credibility and integrity crisis. His greatness lies in the fact that the game of cricket was made richer by his presence. His greatness lies in the fact that people all over the world felt honored to be in his presence.
Nobody can question the man’s greatness. Nobody can question his importance to the game of cricket. But every great has his faults. And he remains a great inspite of these faults.