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Sight Screen

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What to make of SRT?

Mini Kapoor's piece in the Indian Express on Sachin Tendulkar is worth a read in its entirety; this is its basic premise:
It’s plain to see, but heartbreaking to articulate. Once Sachin’s performance used to be, in effect, India’s match report. Now it takes recourse to a statistic for him to leap off the scorecard. Once Sachin was our story, and the match incidental. Even now he is an obsession, but India nevertheless trot along, around him, on their Test exploits.
The popular narrative has been that it’s Sachin who has changed. He’s playing for records. He’s taking the risk — and so the dash — out of his batting. He is fretting, he is troubled by fading skill and wearying body. He is not enjoying himself. He has packed away his trademark shots — those hooks and cuts — and is nursing self-preservation.
Actually, it may be quite the opposite. It could be that Sachin has maintained such steadfast fidelity to an ambition, an ambition obtained from his earliest contract with the game, that it is he who is unchanged. Since that Test debut in 1989 — when Javed Miandad set himself up for derision ever thereafter by suggesting the Bombay boy had better put his pads back in the kit bag and go home to homework — he has been striving to deliver on that early promise. That promise of success and achievement crafted in spite of everything, not the least being a team given to quick collapse.

Trevor Chesterfield, also in the Express, has a shortertake on SRT's latest milestone, and on the man himself as reflected on the day.
And this is somewhat late, but since we are on the subject, Nirmal Shekhar, in the Hindu, is also worth a read; interestingly, he and Mini both in their own ways make the one point, that what SRT did was inevitable:
While there can be no real comparison between high art and modern sport, the feeling is similar when an outstanding sportsman raises the bar higher than ever before, as did Sachin Tendulkar on Saturday when he scored his 35th Test century. From the moment he set out to play his first Test innings in Karachi in November 1989 as a baby-faced boy-wonder, Tendulkar was expected to do what he did on Saturday...and much else besides.
Even before he faced his first ball in international cricket, the popular script covering the yet-to-unfold span of his career saw him conquering every peak that a batsman can possibly scale.
Unlike a play or a movie, sport is at once open-ended and unpredictable. We seldom know what is going to happen next, who is going to do what. It is on this capricious stage that the little master from Mumbai has dutifully enacted almost all the heroics that featured in the original popular script, seemingly immune to the pressures set off by the ever-escalating spiral of expectations.

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