Sachin Tendulkar: How one man changed cricket

The other day my cricket team was discussing whether there was any one person who had definitively influenced the game of cricket. If you have ever met me or have read this blog, you already know my answer. It was Sachin Tendulkar. Why, they asked? “Sachin Tendulkar made cricket what it is today”, I answered.

The answer got me thinking. Sachin Tendulkar was a fantastic batsman but did he really change cricket? Or was I simply being a nostalgic fan boy? Were there others who influenced it more? W.G. Grace? Bradman? Jardine? Sobers? Lillee? Thomson? Imran Khan? Kerry Packer perhaps?

Now, there is plenty of literature on how Sachin’s meteroic rise coincided with India’s economic resurgence. Shashi Tharoor has written about the “Age of Tendulkar” in Wisden. Ed Smith (who, incidentally, got himself out to me last year for 75 to give me my first and only international calibre wicket) has written about “The Indian Master who symbolised the country’s rise”.

But did Tendulkar change cricket? I think he did. Not in terms of changing the game itself (Tendulkar was relatively orthodox). But the advent of Tendulkar changed how the game within the game was played.

Early 90s – India begins to believe

While India may have won the 1983 World Cup, cricket was still competing with field hockey for primacy in the 1980s. There was also a divide between Indian cricket fans. Much like the street-fighter Javed Miandad and the Oxford-educated Imran Khan divided Pakistanis, the loyalty of Indian fan was owed either to the stoic, dependable Gavasakar or the unpredictably brilliant Haryana hurricane, Kapil Dev.

All that changed with the arrival of the fresh-faced Sachin Tendulkar.

Indian fans were united in their admiration for Tendulkar. He was soft-spoken and middle-class. He could attack like Dev and could defend like Gavaskar. He had his nose smashed in by the Pakistani quicks on his first tour but stood up and carried on. He scored a hundred at the WACA, the quickest pitch in the world. His first test hundred was in England. He was the first overseas player to play for Yorkshire.

Sachin Tendulkar was suddenly India’s largest publicly held entity and every Indian was a shareholder.

Everyone wanted a piece of him and until Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman arrived, he was Indian cricket’s sole superstar.
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WorldT20 favourite moments: The Bowl-Out

With the World Twenty20 fast approaching, we thought it was be nice to do a short series on our favourite moments from the WorldT20s so far.

#1 The bowl-out, India v Pakistan (2007, Durban)

Kingsmead, Durban. Traditional rivals India and Pakistan go head-to-head. With Pakistan having qualified for the super-eights, India have more to lose – a big loss in this game would knock them out in the preliminary rounds of the inaugural WorldT20. After the disaster earlier in the year (in the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies), India could ill-afford another early exit. Read More …

Tu mera Viru : An open letter from a fan

Dear Viru,

This post is overdue. Not just overdue, it’s very late. Still it’s not as late as you played your favourite cut shot, leaning away to slash the ball over the waiting slips.

To be honest, it’s taken me time to finally come to terms with the fact that you will no longer play competitive cricket – no test matches, no ODIs, not even the IPL. That you will no longer essay any further classics. That I will just have to make do with old memories on YouTube.

Let me try to describe the thrill of watching you bat.

When Ganguly came out to bat, I knew there would be a silky cover drive. With Dravid, I knew that his forward prod would be technically correct. With Sachin…well…I knew that the ball was going to hit the middle of the bat.

But when you came out to bat the only thing I knew you would do is smile. Read More …

Gully Cricket : Is it dying a slow and painful death?

Been back in India for about a week. Came upon this scene while walking around my house in Gurgaon.

A dusty patch of land surrounded by overgrown weeds.

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Within minutes, a cricket match (the Thums Up Trophy?) commenced.

participants

Naturally, I could not resist and asked to join in. The players were happy to oblige. I swung my bat every ball with no other thought but to hit it as far as possible. I scrambled in the dust to field the red tennis ball. I bowled loopy leggies since anything quick-ish was outlawed. Several of the classic gully cricket rules were on display. Read More …

Nostalgia : Sachin Tendulkar’s most memorable test hundreds

So…it’s nostalgia time again.

Sachin Tendulkar may have retired from all forms of the game but the legend lives on through his fans. This list below is my pick for Tendulkar’s most memorable test match centuries (in descending order of awesomeness).

[Note: The list below only include matches that I have watched so before you throw your hands up, his early hundreds in Manchester and Perth don’t make the list.] Read More …