Two Big Os

88 Comments

As an country we are obsessed with statistics and with individual achievement. Perhaps that is because of the way we have been conditioned to think from childhood,  focussed exclusively on marks and ranks. Given that baggage of our upbringing, the euphoria that sweeps the nation as Sachin Tendulkar becomes the first man (yes a woman has already done this) to score a double century in a one-day international is understandable, being as it is no mean feat.

But two hundred is after all, just a number, a tall one nonetheless, a peak that was fated to be climbed some time or the other, given the improved scoring rates of today. As a feat and and as an innings, I would say not say this was any more splendid than his lone hand 170 odd against Australia in a losing cause, on a pitch not so friendly for batting.

However what truly takes one’s breath away has been the resurgence of Sachin Tendulkar over the past two years, after arguably the lowest point in his career when Dilhara Fernando took his stumps out in the match against Sri Lanka in World Cup 2007, a shockingly painful sight which made many (me included) have their faith falter in his career’s longevity. From the ashes of that despair however, he has since risen in a manner that may not have been as dramatically pronounced as Ganguly’s (because he was never publicly shamed and kicked out) but make no mistake, the return has been no less emphatic. Sachin is today, in a golden phase of his career with a magical run in Test matches and his innings of today showing, as if it needed showing, he can still take apart very good bowling attacks in the shorter version of the game.

Some people will say “This Sachin is no longer as fun he used to be. He has slowed down so much. How is he the greatest batsman ever if he cannot consistently dominate? Now he purses only personal records.”

The numbers though say a different story. (I am an Indian and so of course I will bring out numbers !) In ODIs, against a career average of around 45 his average in the last two years has been around 66. Wait that’s not all. Against a career strike rate of 86, his strike-rate in the last two years has been an amazing 97. That surely says that not only has he been more consistent (and hence valuable for his team) but he has also consistently scored at higher rates. True he doesnt play the booming cover-drives as he used to or send the ball over long-on with the same power as he once did. But he compensates for that with lesser number of dot balls played, deft placements and improvisations back of the wicket with the occasional thump through point or the swivel on toe throwing open a portal in the time-space continuum to days gone by.

While most normal cricketers have their performances falling away with age, Sachin has showed why he is a cut above the rest by moving his numbers the other way. True, his style has changed in the process but his effectiveness as a batsman over the past few years has increased. In his own way, Sachin has thus simply redefined his greatness.

Maybe the eyes dont gauge the line as fast any more, maybe the body does not move into position as quickly. Perhaps that’s true.  Which makes him every more remarkable. Despite the depredations that time has wrought on the body and mind  he still can bat, almost from memory, sometimes more impact-fully than he ever did in his salad days.

For the connoisseur of cricket as well as of life, it is this metamorphosis of his style, his ability to keep on adapting at an age that most mortals get ossified in their habits, his inherent “rising above all the cynicism” devotion to his craft (remember the four-saving dive in the first one day international)  that is truly astounding, something far more awe-inspiring than the magnitude of his scores.

The old Sachin radiated heat. The new Sachin gives light.

But he still remains the sun.

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88 thoughts on “Two Big Os

  1. A masterly exposition of his strengths. As usual, you have presented the facts with admirable logic. Sachin is truly one of the greatest. I love the closing lines:

    “The old Sachin radiated heat. The new Sachin gives light.

    But he still remains the sun.”

    Superb!

  2. It was long time coming, another indian name in the record books. Sachin has already rewritten most of the records. Saeed anwar out Sachin in and such great relief would have been better if it was against pak. But who knows coming world cup/ICC trophy and he might break this one.
    Good news is that he is nowadays batting for longer duration sometimes almost the whole 50 overs( 175 againts Aussies, and then another 117 againts aussies down under).
    Sir kabhi time mile to Kkkklerk ka review likh do

  3. Sachin is the only saving grace in the team right now. once he retires, the Indian cricket’s gone to the dogs.I stopped watching cricket ever-since Dada left. it’ll surely lose its entire charm when Sachin leaves.

  4. GB

    nice write up.
    Being an Indian who grew up watching Sachin Tendulkar playing,I’ve come to one conclusion. Sachin is like Vintage wine, it gets better with time.

    Happy to be living when Sachin Tendulkar was playing cricket.

  5. Youngistan is not really emerging in Indian cricket. Its the same old torch bearers (the ones who have not been forced to call it a day) who are contributing match after match! Sachin is beyond compare.. but it gives shivers to think what the batting line up will be in Tests after Dravid & Laxman retire!

    For now, lets all bask in the glory of this champion!

  6. We are lucky lucky people to have been of the same generation. I am going to get a big kick out of recounting his exploits to the unfortunate fans of the future.

  7. he does… the twitter page is full of the awe and so is facebook!!!
    he deserves it.
    the ricky pointing vs sachin tendulkar argument has finally been laid to rest!
    i hope no one would bother to argue about that here, like it happened in your last post about God!

  8. I am not the first. But I think this is a very good projection of the greatest cricketer ever (I am sure not many will disagree with my calling him that)!

    BTW Mr. Great Bong – I think you need to get a little slow. You are making typos again. But hey! the content is good! So fuck cares about the typos. Keep them coming (not the typos)! Cheers

  9. The most exhilarating component of this innings was that he was playing as if he’s 16 again. That six over mid-wicket off a delivery outside off stamp took me back to the special days of nineties when we used to bunk school just to catch a glimpse of our HERO. When asked how he could continue with the same entusiasm even at the ripe age of 35, Sir Don Bradman once famously remarked “When I go to the pitch, I am the same 20 year old boy with 15 years of experience”. Sachin seemed to be revalidating that with every (master)stroke he was playing.

    I consider his 175 against Australia was a more valiant effort(only because he was chasing a target and playing against Aussies and those cynics who thought he never made a meaningful contribution chasing, absolutely forgetting his knock against Pakistan in 2003 World Cup among many others) and our useless team could not respect one of the best knocks in the history of World Cricket by winning the match for India. That’s why, thanks to our bowlers that they made the day special to Sachin..by making India win.

    Take a Bow Master!! Give us a WC before leaving…nothing could be a more fitting farewell to your illustrious career than that.

    @GB: you rocked as always with the most apt ending.. EVER!! 🙂

  10. Even I felt that the 175 was better than yesterday. Not only because of the pitch, the bowling but the fact that he was on the pitch for almost the entire match !!.. Phenomenal stamina, focus and desire to perform … Unlucky that it came in a losing cause. That to me is his best ODI innings.

  11. Never been a Sachin fan but yesterday dint move from my chair until he got his double ton….and when he did my eyes welled up. I am not saying this in hindsight but once he was in his 120s I had a gut feeling that it wud be done yesterday. By scoring more 150+ scores in last year or two he has already hinted that he is luking for the double ton. That the record will be broken was known but it seemed apt that it is done by the man himself. And it is all the more special coz few believed he wud do it one day (given dat he is 37 n ppl hold dis view dat only sloggers are capable of hi scores). All his shots were classic cricketing shots and thats y it is special. If only his best inning of 175 in Nov against the Aussies would have resulted in a win…

  12. With still being in a state of intoxication , I expected a little more than an analysis from you, a little more GB-ishness in the post which was there only in the last few lines . I believe that the best reaction is the silence for this knock- No words are good enough to prevent themselves from being an injustice and dare I say insult to this knock. Felt the same after that 175 knock. Was contradicted by your post then. Was expecting the same now as well, but……

  13. GB, “The old Sachin radiated heat. The new Sachin gives light.
    But he still remains the sun.” couldn’t have summed it up any better!
    Keep up the good work!

  14. Anybody can score a double on a flat pitch with weak bowling. The bowlers also are mentally disintegrated due to terrorist threats. There is nothing to rave about this Sachin’s double century.

    In my opinion, Laxman’s 281 is the greatest innings in cricket including all formats. Nobody can surpass it.

  15. Really some ppl are so f***** up that no words can describe them….I won’t take names …but comon give some respect 2 the man….Just ‘coz God has given us mouth 2 speak and our constitution a right 2 express our opinion we just can’t go speaking anything abt anyone….Its really so easy to make fun of someone and go on saying things like this inning was better and that inning was better…but in the process we forget our own mediocracy….how many of the ppl just going on and on with these non-sense stuff have actually themselves done anything woth mentioning in their lives….and even if an opportunity arrived were 2 lazy 2 complacent and god knows wht not to have not have made a life worth mentioning also….but if we have to take a jab at someone we will show no mercy and brutally kill the person….may i ask something what else Sachin needs 2 do 2 earn ur all esteemed respect….My God these things just makes me sick like anything….just hypocrite ppl who never will be anything more than just some K…some ……wht 2 so…Its well said….Its hard 2 please everyone….even God cannot do that….

  16. “bowlers also are mentally disintegrated due to terrorist threats. ”

    Thats a really innovative line of reasoning. I wonder if the bowlers thought about that as a post match excuse! 😀

  17. i think his best innings have been of that 82 not out against new zealand when he was asked to open the innings and for the first time we saw the blitzkrieg of this man. the way he would approach the ball, the way he would come in position and that flashing straight drive. That 82 not out in 1994 at Auckland on the festival day of holi…was the best i saw.

  18. It’s sad that you bring in Ganguly in so many of your cricket post out of nowhere. There’s simply no comparison between what Ganguly went through and what Tendulkar continues to go through in terms of the weight of expectations and media scrutiny.

  19. Nice one. Needs proofreading. I’d like to believe my tweet-request inspired this post but why fool oneself! The last line was amazing. I agree, that 175 had more of a struggle than this 200. I’d say that this conventional milestone is a reward to him (from himself) for all the non-arbitrary goals he has reached. What say?

  20. “The old Sachin radiated heat. The new Sachin gives light.

    But he still remains the sun.”

    It doesn’t get any better than this… both the Master & the ending.

  21. “The old Sachin radiated heat. The new Sachin gives light.

    But he still remains the sun.”

    It doesn’t get any better than this… both the Master & the ending.

  22. GB…not one of your great posts (too many typos, too few hallmark GB stuff), but the last few lines are vintage.

    as for the innings: it was 1787 Chateau Lafitte made accessible to all!

  23. The ending of this piece was special.

    As was this phrase : “he still can bat, almost from memory”

    Looking forward to reading your book.

  24. @GB: Is it only me, or even you have started to feel that giving away iPods for the first person to comment only increases noise in your blog comments. You’re getting enough hits already, aren’t you? And I’m assuming that you’ll keep on getting those even if the iPods weren’t gifted.
    You are one of those few bloggers, who get educated and well informed people to comment on your posts. Of course, if you bar the first 10 comments 🙂

    Off topic, but sorry – had to comment!

  25. GB,

    You man after my own heart and time! With the impending retirement of Sachin and Dravid, and to some extent Laxman, ends the era of a generation of cricketers we grew up with loving and hating, and analysing our emotions in statistics time and again when they failed, all gleefully swept under the carpet every time they resurged.
    After seeing him bat for the first ten overs, I got the sense that he’ll go for the record again. The record seems as much as a tribute to my own small life attached to his, my generation’s. This team never won the world cup for us despite all its promise. Like all great heroes, they depart with a saga of tragic and valiant fights in vain. Moments like these are as much a tribute to all of them, and us, than just this great man.

    Some day let’s catch up over a beer. (2 if you would prefer one too.)

  26. Pingback: Sach is his greatness « SNAFU

  27. Didnt we all think that it would one day be Sehwag to do this?
    But Sachin had to prove us wrong. Sometimes I sit back and wonder how they allow this man to play in International Cricket anymore. This is cold blooded discrepancy thats being meted out to the other cricketers playing along. There is no chance anyone can catch up with his records anymore. Boy, what injustice. Imagine a cricketing world after Sachin, when there wont be any records left for other batsmen that could be feasibly broken.
    They should make international cricket “Under-36” now to be fair to all.
    Hail to thee Master.

  28. I just have one thing to say…I just hope that in India other sports do come up to the level of cricket and we have Sachins in all fields. We are talking about our dependence on individual performance, but I don’t see great individual performances in singular sports like badminton, TT, Squash, Tennis, 100mts, Marathons, Cycling etc etc. Now, we will all throw up some 2 or 3 names who have got the so called “Olympic Medals”; but these 2 or 3 names are just black swans…freaking accidents which will go down the annals of Indian Sports History as a one off performace..but if you turn your heads towards China, you will see them taking home kilos of gold, silver and bronze medals home ‘every single time’ while we would polish the one that we got….guys i aint against Sachin…but high time we get over this sachin cum cricket addiction and start showering our attention, praises, resources on some other sportmen of some other sport!

  29. I dont want to take any credit away from Sachin and I totally agree with you on most things. The only point I want to make is that you mentioned that while his career Strike rate is 86 and that in the last 2 years is 97 – and this proves that he is scoring faster than he normally does. I think what we should remember here that during the early part of Sachin’s career, 200+ in an ODI was considered competitive and 250+ was surely a winning total. So in those circumstances a strike rate of 86 was considered phenomenal (i.e. well above the team average)

    However in the last 2 years, 300+ scores are being chased down regularly and even 350+ scores are not 100% safe. (The reasons for this may be varied – more attacking batsmen, more batting friendly pitches, fielding restrictions, etc.). Anyway, the point is a strike rate of 86 in a team total of 220 stands out to be more stellar than a strike rate of 97 in a team total of 300.

  30. Super duper closer.

    Sorry am repeating what many others have said, but there is no agree or upvoting facility but still felt I had to say this.

    I do think those lines will achieve some kind of immortality blog-wise. You can be justly proud.

    thanks,
    Jai

  31. There is this email in my mailbox, with memorable quotes about sachin. This new addition to the list I will always remember…

    The old Sachin radiated heat. The new Sachin gives light.
    But he still remains the sun.

    Priceless..

    I bow to thee (for sachin)..
    I bow to thee (for GB) 😉

  32. As for you GB, I just have one thing to say…which was said by one of the News Channel CEO….there are three things that sell in India (in NEWS channels)…Cricket, Sting Operations and War. So keep up the good work of bringing in Cricket time and again to garner viewership and increasing your ratings!

  33. “The old Sachin radiated heat. The new Sachin gives light.
    But he still remains the sun.”

    Thank you. These lines just made my day. Nobody else could have put it better.

  34. @Kishor – Laxman’s inning was the best in any sport, be it basketball, American football or soccer. No one has played that well, ever.

  35. @Kishor – Surely you meant the wristy and sublime MS Dhoni milking Sri Lanka for 170 odd ? Best innings ever, I agree.

  36. Shoban Saxena, who writes a blog on TOI, is on vacation in Brazil. Apparently, he’s in shock and awe. He writes (http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Main-Street/entry/will-india-play-in-2014):
    “The Brazilians don’t play or watch cricket. Nobody here has even heard of Sachin Tendulkar. The British introduced cricket and football in Brazil at the same time. They did the same thing in India. The Brazilians took to football and the caste-ridden Indian society, afraid of polluting their bodies by coming in contact with low castes, adopted cricket — a complete non-contact sport. Over the years, cricket has changed, but it still remains a middle-class, upper caste game. First, it was the British acolytes – the Maharajas and Nawabs – who played the game and later it was soft, middle-class and upper middle-class men who represented India for years. The demands of one-day and T20 has changed the composition of the team but it still remains the domain of upper castes, including the Jats, and middle class men from big cities and small towns alike.

    Cricket is not a real sport. Among the world’s top five sporting nations (according to Beijing Olympics medal tally), there is not even one cricket-playing nation. Among the top 10, there is only one: Australia. It’s the same story in Asia. Not one cricket-playing nation exists in top 5. And only one – India – in the top 10. The other cricket giants of Asia – Pakistan and Sri Lanka – rank in the last 8. Bangladesh was second last in the last Asian Games’ medal tally. And the cricket hope of the future – Nepal and Afghanistan – held third and fourth last positions.

    Class conscious and contempt for hard physical work has made us love cricket. Compared to games like football and hockey, which demand a lot of sweat and blood, cricket is a like a walk in the park. Probably, that’s the reason we love it so much. It also helps us in hiding our complete lack of presence in any global sporting event.

    Unlike cricket, which divides India into castes and classes, football unites Brazil.

    One wonder whether this guy is speaking out of the wrong orifice.
    While nobody would disagree with the difference in physical demands for cricket and football, the claim that cricket divides India into castes and classes completely gives away this guy’s kindergarten attempt at social commentary.

  37. is there any truth to the fact that Sachin’s leanest Test years were during Sourav’s captaincy – don’t have any tools to verify ,but will be interesting to find out. I myself can’t think of any reason other than injuries.

  38. Saurabh Somani Your Article on VVS Laxman & Eden on cric buzz was top draw.
    GreatBong the best sign off ever I read about the master. I was very worried when he had the slump in form and our beloved Times of India pioneered dawn of Sachin campaign glorifying all his failures not even giving regard to the Tennis Elbow injury he sustained. He was bowled by an Akthar delivery that kept low and Sachin almost on knees was the front page photograph for the yellow journalism news agency. The Pakistani Legend Hanif Mohammed came to the support of Sachin and said there is a lot left in the maestro & am very glad that he is correct.

    Kudos to the great Master that he has transcended all milestones ever known to batsmen and is still going strong. Am sure the statistically centric BCCI authorities will give him a rope so that he not only breaks all the records but also consolidates them & I wont be surprised if BCCI uses its muscle to make Ricky hang up his shoes.

  39. I agree with one of comments above that we need Sachins in other sports as well. We are embarrassingly under-represented in some of the sports which have the eyes of the whole world. A heroic figure like Sachin who in the past couple of days have been elevated to the stature of God, can help bring in renaissance of sports as well

  40. “The old Sachin radiated heat. The new Sachin gives light.”
    But he still remains the sun.

    That says it all. Superb!

    GB, are we getting the autographed copies if we order it through indiaplaza? They did it for Sidin.

  41. Pingback: Sachin, redux « Smoke Signals

  42. we hate you when you write ‘biased, half baked and prejudice and one sided stories esp against Arundhati roy & SRK’.

    we love you when you write such line. “The old Sachin radiated heat. The new Sachin gives light.

    But he still remains the sun.”

    now you became like SRK. u can love hime. U can hate him, but u can’t ignore him.

  43. “The old Sachin radiated heat. The new Sachin gives light.

    But he still remains the sun.”

    Those are immortal words, my friend. You have captured the essence of Sachin and what he means to us adoring fans. Hats off to you.

    A first time reader…thanks to Prem’s blog post.

  44. Hi,

    Very well written last line,sums up the little master very well.

    BTW, what do you think about Dhoni hitting fours and sixes and not giving Sachin a chance for almost 10 deliveries.In fact, if Hashim Amla had not dived to save one Dhoni four, Dhoni didn’t seem to be in any mood to take a single and give the strike to Sachin.I think Sachin needs to thank Amla as well for making that record.
    Your comments?

  45. The Sun in your view seems to go through phases of giving heat and light. The rest of the world thinks it gives heat and light simultaneously !

  46. GB, Nice peace of article. and like many other readers I also loved last two lines…
    When I was in school/colllege, I remember one quote/statement which was very common across the section of people in Mumbai (Ans sure in rest of India).
    “Aaj sachin fail gaya..sirf 40 banaya”. (I say 40 but this can be any score between 35-49). I have heard this quote from so many times when sahcin gets out at arouns that score. Be it n no. of local train commuters, Rikshaw walas, college students, Ferriwala, or crowde watching match outside TV shope.
    The greatness of sachin remains in the fact that even if he scores 40 run we consider him fail :). Most of the players do not have even a avg of 40.
    The passing marks(runs) for Sachin were 60+ ..this alone says how great batsman he has been and still is.

  47. Sachin took so many balls to go from 190 to 200 and wasted all of them. Some other batsman would scored boundaries out of them and helped the team score more runs. On the other end, Dhoni was hitting sixes and Sachin denied him the chance of hitting the fastest 100. I don’t know when we Indians give more value to team totals rather than personal records.

  48. @kishor
    He took 147 balls for his 200. He hit 25 fours and 3 sixes. Are you going to begrudge him the 10 – 11 balls he might have taken for those ten runs? We might never have made 401 if he had not batted through.

  49. The old Sachin radiated heat. The new one gives light.

    – Where in your head do you get these lines. Love you for this. Tumi guru hebby boro fan.

  50. In the final ODI, the “sun” took a breather behind the clouds and soon darkness descended on the Indian cricket horizon. The little stars failed to even twinkle and the sharp contrast in the firepower added to the gloom. Hopefully, all is not lost…soon the IPL and the T20 WC will have them dazzling in psychedelic splendour and light up the firmament of our existence.

  51. Pingback: Why Tendulkar’s double hundred was bad inspiration for me. « Haage Summane…

  52. “Sachin Tendulkar becomes the first man (yes a woman has already done this) to score a double century in a one-day international is understandable, being as it is no mean feat.”
    Curious to know who that woman is..


  53. The old Sachin radiated heat. The new Sachin gives light.
    But he still remains the sun.

    I am guessing you are a fan too. Yay Sachin…!!!

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