It was way back in 1989, when I saw a cricketer being hit by a ball on his face and was bleeding. I had no idea what cricket was, or who was hit or by whom, in fact I didn’t even know how to spell the word “cricket.” I heard my elder cousins and uncles discussing that this guy would be taken to hospital but just after sometime all of them were shocked when they heard that this kid will continue batting. They were amazed, though I didn’t have much idea about the event. I was just six years old then, but I still remember my uncle’s words:
“waah bai waah... munda te sher aa... eh ni jaanda kite...”
That was my first encounter with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar. Generally we forget such incidents easily, but when I look back, I still have the dim memories of that scene. I just couldn’t forget it and I think that’s why I’ve been a huge fan of this man since last 22 years.
After that incident, I grew up and this legend grew up too. We saw him scoring his first hundred in England and we saw him scoring that great century in WACA when all the greats of our team failed against the might of bowlers like McDermott and Reiffel. Players came and went, but he stood there, and we watched him. I really don’t know when he created a special place in our hearts.
Then the time came when it was certain that if he fails, the whole team will fail. We became so used to his success that every time he didn’t score a hundred, we assumed it to be his failure. The whole nation had one slogan: “Cricket is Religion and Sachin is God.” He became undoubtedly the most respected cricketer of the world. He kept on breaking records, scoring centuries, double centuries and most importantly, playing well and wining matches for us. Finally, the day come when our team was holding the world cup and he was still there, one among them. We loved him for that and the whole country dedicated it to him.
But today, I wonder if that love and respect that we all have for this great man, has to do anything with his records? Wouldn’t have we loved him the same way even if he would've ended up with 99 international hundreds? would his service to the nation have affected if he didn't score his hundred today? Are these records above the game? Is a hundred more important the victory? Do we watch cricket for figures?
I don’t know about others but I don’t. I’ve always wanted him to play well, whether he ends up getting a hundred or not. Sir Don Bradman is still considered as the greatest batsman ever even though he ended up with a career average of 99.94. Did that average took anything away from Sir Don? No way! I think apart from Indian media, there was no one who was so eager about his so called “Maha-shatak.”
But Mr. Sachin Tendulkar, I must tell you that after being your fan for 22 years, I don’t respect you anymore. I was very happy to see you playing well today and the six you hit was amazing. But I still cannot digest that you took 40 balls to complete the last 22 runs of your century which you otherwise would have done in 15 balls. I had always been fighting against your critics and thankfully, I always had a lot of points in your favour. But today, I really don’t know what to say. It was not a knock for the country but just for reaching a landmark. It is a blunder which would have got unnoticed if India would have won but unluckily for you, we lost. Thanks to the great bowling performances in the depth overs.
Anyway, congrats to you for your great record because it is records what matter, much more than winning the matches. But I won't remember this as one of the greatest days in the history of Indian cricket, which it would have been otherwise.