I was at office when Sam called me and said, “Do you know what the score is?”. My reply would have impressed my boss, “No”. Sam told me the score and Sachin’s distance from the landmark. A voice rose from inside, “WTF are you doing here? Yeah right, that email is going to get you into the Guiness book of world records for the most number of cumulative ‘regards’ anyone has sent to anyone’. So I packed (yes I scatter myself all over at office!) and left to a cousin’s home at a stone’s throw from office. Went there and asked her to switch on the TV. Sachin was on 190. And that’s where I was when It happened. And that needs to be recorded. Like where I was during that WC’96 quarterfinal with Pakistan at Bangalore. Like where I was when ARR won the Oscars. Like where I was when Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the first individual
Gold Silver (Thanks Yesh!) for India. Like where I was when the tsunami, 26/11, 9/11 happened (I don’t mean to be insensitive here, just a reference to the past, that’s all). For me that’s a record! ;)
And what do I say about the 200. It would be akin to a trash can talking about the platinum jewellery that adorned the lady throwing trash into him. No seriously. This man has completely become cricket himself for the last 20+ years and people still worried about him not ‘finishing a game’ or ‘scoring a second innings century’ or whatever nonsense that people think he should have done. It surprises me as to how people cannot see what the man has already done. Well, most people go by the statistics and say his average is nowhere near the Don’s nor does he score big ones like Lara did. But now that he has scored something that nobody has done before, praises seem to be coming in like the tsunami. Why does it take a landslide to see a mountain? Why can’t we just appreciate people or things for what they are?
Sachin on his part has gone about his life in the most commendable of ways. Except for running his hands over the seam of a ball once, I don’t remember a single controversy that they could pull him into. To have remained clean and in-control for so many years in the murky scene of Indian cricket is by itself an achievement nobody can ever equal. Even when he failed as a captain the transition to being a player was so smooth that subsequent captains (much junior in terms of age) have always felt grateful to have Sachin in their team. You just cannot keep the man out of action. He will always be found in the centre-of-the-pitch congregations to decide who will bowl next or what is to be done along with the captain Vice Captain and others. And if he wasn’t there, he would chewing at his nails in the same way we would be sitting in front of our television sets and getting involved.
I need to clarify that I am not writing about the 200. I would have been surprised if he had retired without consigning a few of these statistics to his ‘done’ folder. A 200 here, a 400 there is all smaller than the man himself. He is not because of the 200 he has scored, the 200 is so big now because it was Sachin who made it. Frankly, did 194 ever evoke such a formidable picture to you? The substitute runner due to cramps that Saeed Anwar took still shames me into embarrassment to say that an unfit guy made the highest ODI score. I am not ignoring the tough conditions in Chennai to last that long. But at the international level you fight your ghosts – Sachin was punching the right side of his back when he was at 193. And we know the history of his back problem that cost us the 1999 Chennai Test match v/s Pakistan. Now, that’s why the 200 appears so big. It isn’t a big figure as you will see in the coming future. I won’t be surprised if Sehwag or Shane Watson or someone who is capable of breaking this record, actually come close to doing it and declare themselves retired hurt just to keep the respect that Sachin has accorded to the figure 200 now. I remember Micheal Atherton (or someone else it was, I don’t remember. Can someone please clarify? Clarification: Mark Taylor it was) declared his individual test innings at 334 (which is Don’s Highest score in Test cricket) as he didn’t want to go past the Don. I am sure the same will happen to this 200*. People will find it immensely tough in the first place to break the barrier of 200, but once they do it they will realise the overwhelming feeling of overtaking Sachin Tendulkar at that point.
As this man goes on about his life in a scrupulous and meticulous manner setting himself, naturally, as the ideal role model for generations of people to come. Let us take this 200 as an opportunity to bow down to the greatest sportsman that India has ever known. Thanks Sachin for providing us unbridled pleasure through your complete involvement with the game. It has been a privilege and a great pleasure to be living in the same time as you are. Thank you so much!
PS: There is an uncanny resemblance of achievements between Sachin and AR Rahman. Whenever either one has achieved something incredible the other follows it up almost immediately. I am referring to the Grammys being followed by the 200! There are many more such things. Probably another post for that topic! :)