Joined: 02 November 2007
December 28, 2012Posted by Samarth Shah 12 hours, 7 minutes ago in Miscellaneous
Following Sachin Tendulkar's recent retirement from one-day internationals, a number of people shared their favorite memory of him. Perhaps the most commonly mentioned one was his 'Desert Storm' innings against Australia in 1998 in Sharjah. My favorite memory of the man is from the same year, against the same opponent, but in a different tournament, at a different venue. But first, some background.
I moved from India to the United States in the summer of 1998, immediately after I completed my bachelors degree in engineering. The final semester of the BE degree allowed the students some latitude in determining their workload. With an India-Australia series scheduled, it was no surprise that my final semester workload left plenty of time for me to watch cricket matches. I thus followed Australia's 1998 tour of India and the subsequent Sharjah triangular tournament with great interest. I too have fond memories of both the Desert Storm innings and the century that followed in the tournament's final, on Tendulkar's 25th birthday. Apart from being perhaps the zenith of Tendulkar's one-day batsmanship, it was among the last few cricket matches I saw before I traveled to the USA.
Everything about moving to the USA. was new. My ticket to Chicago was the first air ticket my middle-class parents had bought in 15 years – you see, we generally traveled by train or bus. I moved from Chennai, a metropolitan city of seven million residents, to a small Midwestern college town with barely 100,000. I was living in an apartment with a room-mate for the first time in my life, having always lived at home with my family through school and college. I was solely responsible for my food, my laundry. I was a graduate student and a teaching assistant – my first job and first income. Graduate study was daunting. Grading was on a competitive scale. My university was ranked among the top ten in the country. My fellow graduate students had been winning medals at International Mathematics Olympiads, while I was skipping college classes for cricket matches. In trying to catch up, I burnt so much midnight oil that I feel largely responsible for the hole in the ozone layer.
It wasn't just a foreign country, it was a foreign life.
I wasn't complaining though. I was sleeping on a comfortable bed, food was varied and plentiful, I made new friends from different backgrounds, the autumn weather was mild, and the world-class campus was resplendent in breathtaking fall colours. But that made it even less like home. In Chennai, autumn temperatures are in excess of 35C – just like summer, spring, and winter temperatures – and there's no such thing as a maple tree. In Chennai, one rarely heard Hindi on the street. In this strangely friendly new world, one heard Spanish and Chinese and English spoken with a southern American twang, in addition to Hindi. I missed home. Phone calls were too expensive for someone still converting every dollar spent into rupees. Internet connections in India were unreliable.
My Indian friends and I learned to follow cricket through Cricinfo, it became our browser home page. But reading the term 'cover drive' is a lot different from watching the stroke itself.
Thus, when I first heard that Mick Jagger's company, Jagged Internetworks, would be carrying the 1998 Wills International Cup telecast from Dhaka, I was ecstatic. Two equally fanatical friends and I made a date to stay up all night and watch India's game against Australia in the Sun SPARC computer lab, over the university's high-speed network. It was the first cricket all three of us would be watching since leaving India several months earlier. I had never used a Sun SPARC computer or a high-speed network in India. I'd never streamed a video over the internet in India. It was going to be a very new experience.
As it frequently happened in the 1990s, India were soon 8 for 2 in the third over. Both Sourav Ganguly and Mohammad Azharuddin – India's second and third-best one-day batsmen in the Tendulkar era – were gone. And then Tendulkar exploded. He smashed 141 sublime runs, before taking four wickets at a crucial stage, including those of Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan.
I'd love to say that I can remember clearly all the wonderful shots he played. But apart from a lofted drive or two, I can't remember any. The innings had deeper meaning for me than the shots it contained. The shots he played were special not because of their ingenuity, but because of their familiarity. Tendulkar was demolishing Australia, like he had before I left India, and I was watching it, like I had in India. It represented a sense of normalcy. Everything had changed in my life, but nothing had in the world. I could deal with the change. A Tendulkar cover drive still looked the same. It wasn't a new world, it was the same one. In that match, to me, Tendulkar wasn't the master or the destroyer, he was merely the 'normaliser'.
It was also during that game that I first appreciated the power and promise of the internet in helping me bridge the divide between the old days and the new. Sure, I'd sent email and browsed the web before. The world's first popular web browser was created at the very university campus I was sitting in. But this was 1998. Facebook and Skype were five years away. YouTube was non-existent. Even Google was only in its infancy. But if I could use online media to watch Tendulkar live, I might use it in future to see mom and dad live, stay in touch with family in Chennai and Gujarat. If I could stream the genius of Tendulkar live via the internet, then I could stream the genius of AR Rahman and Lata Mangeshkar. I could watch and listen to the firecrackers go off on Diwali night in Chennai … It wasn't all that foreign a land or all that foreign a life after all.
As India completed yet another victory over Australia that year, perhaps for the first time in this new home, I felt happy. And then it was 6am. The Mathematics Olympians were awake.
Joined: 02 November 2007
More than one great will tell you that what they miss most is not the runs or the glory, but the feeling of being out there on a summer's day, the breeze teasing your flannels as the bat's sweet spot connects with the ball and sends it speeding to another time and space.
"What you end up remembering isn't always the same as what you have witnessed," writes Julian Barnes in The Sense of an Ending. Those that love cricket, and who have witnessed their heroes fade away, can relate to that sentiment. Years from now, when you think of Sachin Tendulkar's last act in India's limited-overs kit, will your final memories be of the Asia Cup, where he made the 100th hundred and then a half-century against Pakistan? Or would you rather think of an April night in Mumbai a year earlier, and a dream that had finally come true after more than two decades?
One-day cricket has not indulged its finest batsmen when it comes to the final curtain. Think of the greatest of them, who averaged 47 and scored at 90 runs every 100 balls at a time when a strike-rate of 60 was considered rapid. Viv Richards played his final ODI at Lord's in 1991, 12 years on from illuminating a World Cup final there in the company of Collis King. He made 37 from 57 as West Indies lost.
A couple of days earlier, Gordon Greenidge, who averaged 45 and matched Richards' 11 hundreds, had left the game limping. A knee injury ended his tour and career, and he was run out for four in his final innings. The greatest opener of his time signed off while batting at No.8.
Greenidge had just turned 40 when Father Time tapped him on the shoulder. Richards was getting there. Dean Jones was only 33 when Australia's selectors cut him adrift. Those that never watched him play probably associate him with over-the-top antics on television. But for those who did, Jones was the one who rewrote the one-day lexicon, with his tip-and-run, aggressive batsmanship and superb fielding.
Jones didn't add to his seven centuries in the final three seasons of his career and he exited with an innings of eight at Newlands. He finished with an average of 44.61 and a strike-rate (72.56) that was considered exceptional even a decade later.
Ricky Ponting would go on to make the No.3 position his own, and win the World Cup thrice – Jones only did it once. But like the man he eventually succeeded, Ponting's last act was far from memorable. He scored the last of his 30 hundreds – second only to Tendulkar - in the World Cup loss to India in 2011, but managed just 18 in his final five innings. It was no way to end a career best remembered for a breathtaking unbeaten 140 in a World Cup final nearly a decade earlier.
The man that Ponting and Tendulkar were most often compared to also got no fairy-tale ending. Brian Lara presided over a disastrous West Indian Super Eights campaign at the 2007 World Cup, and at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, there would be no consolation victory. A mix-up with Marlon Samuels saw him run out for 18, and England won with a ball to spare to ensure that the lap of honour had a hollow ring to it. The last of his 19 hundreds - a brilliant 138-ball 156 against Pakistan in Adelaide - had come nearly two and a half years earlier.
Two other stylish left-handers also left with a whimper. Saeed Anwar, who held one-day cricket's highest score (194) for more than a decade, finished with an unbeaten 40 in Bulawayo in a World Cup match ruined by rain, at the end of a tournament where Pakistan had failed all the big tests. Those that admired the fluency and skill with which he batted will probably recall the last hundred against India at Centurion, even if it came in a losing cause.
Sourav Ganguly's final game saw India complete a series win against Pakistan in Gwalior. His own contribution was just five. Having matched Tendulkar stroke for stroke during his halcyon years, he had not scored a hundred for nearly half a decade.
The more callous among us can talk of botched exit lines and a reluctance to let go. But when it's the only life you've known, walking away is far from easy. More than one great will tell you that what they miss most is not the runs or the glory, but the feeling of being out there on a summer's day, the breeze teasing your flannels as the bat's sweet spot connects with the ball and sends it speeding to another time and space. Matthew Hayden called the act of hitting a cricket ball "addictive", and it must have been for most of these men.
In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce wrote: "The fellows were practising long shies and bowling lobs and slow twisters. In the soft grey silence he could hear the bump of the balls: and from here and from there through the quiet air the sound of the cricket bats: pick, pack, pock, puck: like drops of water in a fountain falling softly in the brimming bowl."
Only Tendulkar and those that took the sunset walk before him will know how hard it is to turn your back on that.
Joined: 02 November 2007
New Delhi: Former England captain Geoffrey Boycott feels a poor series against Australia could force Sachin Tendulkar to retire from all forms of cricket as the world doesn't want to see the Indian "embarrass" himself with repeated failures.
"He desperately needs some runs against Australia in the Test matches in March, because I don't think any of us want to see him embarrass himself with more failures after failure," Boycott said.
"If he doesn't get runs against Australia, I'm reasonably confident that he'll see the light and call his own retirement. But you cross your fingers and hope he can get some," he told 'ESPNcricinfo'.
One of the game's all-time greats, Tendulkar had, on Sunday, announced his retirement from one-day cricket, bringing to an end a glorious 23-year-old career in the format in which he rewrote numerous batting records.
Boycott called Tendulkar's decision a reasonable and sensible one.
"It's very sad, it's a fact of life, that more of us, as we get older, we have to accept we just can't do what we used to do. There's no fun in accepting that, there's no fun in believing it. There's no fun in having to say it gets easier, because it doesn't get easier. It can't.
"So for him, it's tough, is one-day (cricket). As wonderful as he's been, we can't live on the memories. He's 39, and so I think giving up is very responsible and sensible.
Asked if India needed Tendulkar more in the Test format, Boycott said, "I'm not sure it's about what India needs most, I think it's about what's best for Sachin. At this stage of his career, he's done well for himself and he's done well for his country.
"I think he has to do what's best for him because if he plays better, whatever format of cricket, it's going to help the team he plays for, which is India. That's the most important thing."
"He (Tendulkar) hasn't played in the T20s for India for a while. ODI cricket, today, in the modern game, has become so physically demanding on the player's body, even 50 overs. As much as we all love Sachin, me included, he's never been an outstanding athlete in the field. He's never let anybody down, he's been competent, but nobody could ever call him a top outfielder," Boycott said.
The Yorkshireman further said, "So, as he gets older, like all of us, me included, he just can't run as fast as a youngster, he can't dive around.
"Not that he was a great diver but when you do dive around in the modern day - as you are expected to; it's a modern phenomenon - he's going to hurt himself a bit more. As you get older, you're going to fall the wrong way, your body hurts more, it bruises easier - it's nature taking over.
"He can now focus on staying fit, playing as much zonal cricket as he can - and that's important, trying to get some runs in that, which shouldn't be too difficult. You know (in domestic cricket) they're not as good as him. Even now, when he's past his zenith, he's still better than them. And he needs form. Form means runs, runs means confidence, and then he can play against Australia in March.
Asked if Tendulkar played a role in transforming the 50-over format, Boycott's opinion centered on the Indian's longevity.
"Longevity more than anything. There have been other outstanding one-day cricketers, like there have been outstanding Test players. But it's the longevity, and playing in all countries and playing well. That's it.
"It's easy to get sucked into believing, when he's playing in the current day and doing well, that they're the best player ever. Hang on. That's being disrespectful to all the eras of cricket and all the players who've gone before.
"Sachin will be up there with the greatest in Test cricket and one-day cricket, but let's not forget there have been other players. So it's his longevity and playing exceptionally well all over the world."
Tendulkar amassed 18,426 runs in 463 one-dayers at an average of 44.83. The diminutive right-hander had an astonishing 49 ODI hundreds, including a double hundred the first in this form of the game.
Joined: 02 November 2007
Joined: 02 November 2007
Joined: 02 November 2007
Joined: 02 November 2007
Joined: 02 November 2007
• Tendulkar retires after 463 ODI's for India
• Batsman steps aside to help India to rebuild for 2015
Sachin Tendulkar has announced his retirement from one-day international cricket to allow the team to build toward the defence of the World Cup in 2015.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India confirmed the 39-year-old, regarded by many as the world's greatest living batsman, had decided to end to his 50-over career after 463 ODI caps.
Tendulkar, known as the Little Master in his home country, spoke to the BCCI president Narayanaswami Srinivasan before announcing the decision.
"I have decided to retire from the one-day format of the game," Tendulkar said in a statement. "I feel blessed to have fulfilled the dream of being part of a World Cup-winning Indian team.
"The preparatory process to defend the World Cup in 2015 should begin early and in right earnest. I would like to wish the team all the very best for the future. I am eternally grateful to all my well-wishers for their unconditional support and love over the years."
The batsman, who made his ODI debut in 1989, has made his decision before the upcoming matches against Pakistan and next month's five-match one-day series at home against England.
Tendulkar struggled during the recent Test series against England, passing 50 in only one innings and averaging only 18.66, and a decision over his future had been mooted. His statement indicates he still has an appetite to continue in Test cricket.
He retires from ODIs having scored 18,426 runs at an average of 44.83, his highest score an unbeaten 200 against South Africa in 2010. He made 49 one-day centuries and 96 fifties. The highlight of his ODI career was the World Cup victory on home soil in 2011.
Tendulkar's last one-day appearance came back in March against Pakistan, the team against whom he made his debut almost exactly 23 years ago. He also took 154 one-day wickets, his best return five for 32 against Australia in 1998.
"Actually I am surprised," the former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar said. "If he is continuing with international cricket [in Tests] then he should have continued with ODI also."
The Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh was quick to pay tribute. He said on Twitter: "Sachin tendulkar a great batsman. great human being. a great friend. great man to look up 2. proud indian. Real son of india. I salute u nd love u. 423 matches, 23 yrs, 18426 runs !!!! These numbers no body else wil be able to come close to. salute salute salute to sachin."
The England batsman Kevin Pietersen tweeted: "Statistics NEVER lie! They tell a very true story.. Well done Sachin! What an incredible ODI career.. #thebest."
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