A moo point, basically …

Arbit/ Random

He’s the man

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An aunt of mine from Auckland is in town right now, and she had quite a few interesting anecdotes to share today. We all know that Australia started off as a colonial prison – it’s something we’ve given them enough heat about quite often. What we don’t know (at least I didn’t) is that New Zealand was the retirement home for England’s mentally challenged individuals. This apparently is the reason for there being an usually high proportion of individuals with those kind of problems there. This is not the anecdote, just a fun fact, stretching the definition of ‘fun’ to its limit.

My aunt’s a big fan of cricket as well as a big supporter of the Indian cricket team. Credit to her, she’s managed to sustain this interest in spite of staying outside the country for more than thirty years. New Zealand (and Auckland in particular) loves its cricket. The Indian diaspora there have been fairly cricket-crazy, and they’ve been closely attached to NZ cricket ever since Glenn Turner married a Punjaban and settled down there (and she went on to become a Mayor of some town as well). As a result, every visit of the Indian cricket team to New Zealand is a pretty big deal for people there. With the advent of the Indian Premier League, a lot of talk shows have had discussions about how cricket has started displacing Rugby as a lucrative career option due to the opportunities in India!

A friend of my aunt knew someone who knew someone, which allowed him to go and visit the team which went there early this year. This was around six in the evening, and the only person he managed to catch up with was V. V. S. Laxman. Laxman, tells  my aunt, leads a pretty spartan and religious lifestyle, sleeping on the ground to keep his back in shape and doing pujas on a regular basis. There was speculation that the match we lost in Auckland (although we had won the series already) was in fact thrown by the guys because they had booked slots for Scuba diving and Parasailing and such stuff, but Laxman didn’t seem too keen to comment on this. When asked whether it was possible to meet any of his teammates, he said that all of them would be out partying hard, so the chances of that were extremely remote. Sehwag would be around, he guessed, but only because he was there with his family. The only person he was certain would be in his hotel room was … well, it is quite obvious … Sachin Tendulkar.

Every person who’s grown up in Bombay/ Mumbai is by default a Sachin fan (devotee, to be precise). I am one, so is my aunt and so was her friend. So naturally his discussion with Laxman led to the topic of the Master Blaster. Laxman told him the real reason why Sachin continues to be an automatic selection to the team even after two decades of playing the game at the highest level. The mere fact that Sachin is in the team gives people hope, no matter how bad they might be playing. If he is yet to bat, the ‘boys’ have the assurance that Sachin is yet to come, which allows them to play their natural game. If he gets out, they feel obliged to play for Sachin as his desire to win games for the team continues to be infectious and unmatched. Laxman talked of how Dhoni has always maintained that he doesn’t mind being given a squad of youngsters without any seniors for ‘advice’ or ‘guidance’ with one exception – Sachin has to be a part of every squad. Sachin is not just the run-getter, he’s the rallying point, the morale-booster. The sentiments of the entire nation are mirrored in the team, clearly. He talked of how Sachin still feels bad about not being picked for the West Indies tour in 1989-90 because the selectors felt he would ‘get hurt by the fast bowling’ (Sachin apparently cried like a baby when given this excuse. He was just sixteen then, so his reaction is quite understandable). And he found it laughable (demonstrating it with a loud laugh) that people raised doubts about Sachin’s commitment and motivation. Laxman talked of things we have discussed and contemplated during extensive sessions of armchair coaching, and it feels nice to receive validation from a source so very, very special like him.

Some people consider this to be a bad thing – the fact that even after twenty years, a country of a billion individuals has been unable to come up with even one worthy replacement. But given that it’s taken us ages to get an Olympic gold medal, I think we need to put our sporting achievements in perspective and stop being so harsh on ourselves. Also, we need to realize that Sachin is a once-in-a-lifetime / once-in-a-generation player. So maybe we should do ourselves a favour by simply marveling at our good fortune at having been a part of ‘the generation when Sachin played.’

Note: All those people reading this post right now who are already brushing it off by calling it ‘just another crazy fan’s mad ravings’, all I have to say is – well, nothing much other, really. ‘Guilty as charged’, for one. ‘I know who you are, and it’s never too late to join the club,’ for another.

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Written by sujaybedekar

October 13, 2009 at 11:47 pm

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