THE WIZARDS OF INDIAN CRICKET
It was 19th of April 2002. Sunil Manohar Gavaskar. The past cricket wizard had just reached port-of-Spain for the second test played between India and West Indies. A senior airport officer asked the immigration official—a young lady—who did not know who he was to detain him for some time. He said detain him long enough so that all of us can get his autographs. It was Brian Lara’s country. They would talk about sobers to Marshal, from Garner to holding from Roberts to Daniel. But they have a respectable place for sunny as they call Gavaskar, He is greeted with warmth and affection wherever he goes. In the party given by the Indian High Commissioner there was loud applause twice when Gavaskar’s name was mentioned Indian team mentioned. Indian team members are hounded and loved by fans all over the world.
He the old timers wanted a photograph; all the kids wanted an autograph. Gavaskar just smiled and obliged all. Very hesitatingly he said, “They make me feel very special here. It was in Port of Spain that the Sunny legend was born. In 1970-71 tour he had a number of scores 65 and 67 not out 116 and 64 not out I and 117 not out and 124 and 220 in four tests to make 774 runs.
Today it was the turn of short statured Sachin Tendulkar to show his mantle. In the first innings he was the master smashing boundaries like a magician. The century that Sachin made equaled him with Sir Don Bradman’s number of 29 centuries. His unbeaten 113 off 235 balls was 29th in 93 tests. He has still to compete with his meutor Sunny who has 34 century in 125 tests to his credit to have centuries in your own country may be easy but to have them on foreign soil is something different. Sunil Gavaskar had 18. Sachin Tendulkar 15, Steve Waugh of Australia had 15; Ken Barrington of England had 14 while Allan Border of Australia had 14.
Former captain Bishan Singh Badi said, “Class is rare. Sachin has loads of it. He is the best batsman India has produced so far. In the six to seven years of cricket, he will clobber many records and post more than 40 centuries in Tests and one dayers”. Though I don’t set store by records because they are no barometer of your ability Sachin a rare player. He has a rare gift of timing and a great cricketing mind. He will go miles and demolish many records on the way”, said legendary Imran Khan the ex-Pakistan Captain.
Mushtaq Ali was a contemporary of Sir Donald Bradman. He was the first Indian to score a century in 1930. He commented, “He (Sachin) is the greatest batsman to emerge from the sub continent the Kohinoor of Cricket. He is destined post records that will be difficult to break. I guess he will cross 15,000 in test cricket”. But he said, “Centuries will keep coming off his bat, but he will not be capable of tall scores. He cannot surpass Lara’s records because his forearms tire out after three figure scores. It is not bowlers who get him out, fatigue get him out.”
Imran’s view is that Jack of dangerously fast bowlers has contributed to Sachin’s success. “He is not playing in an era when you had holding Marshal and Thomson Hurling missiles at you. Bedi as of the view that for his height the five pound bat is a bit too much. Only hugely built Clive Lloyd and Pollock used a five pound bat. The one with which Sir Don Score 452 runs didn’t weigh even four pounds. 84 years old Mushtaq s view is short stature is an advantage for Sachin. He can face fast bowlers and handle them with ease.
The prestigious time magazine features 25 outstanding Asians in its April 29 special issue. Sachin was the first Indian sportsman to adorn the magazine’s cover in May 1999. The paper then had compared him with soccer great Diego Maradona. The paper had said that both were short stocky and curly haired “But unlike the Argentine ace, Tendulkar is a level headed even bland professional who does all his hell-raising at the wicket. It’s difficult to single out a Tendulkar performance as there are so many and so many to come.”
With all the compliments to the great player there are certain mile-stones he has to cross. There are five challenges before him, the first as an Indian VVS laxman’s highest score of 28% in an innings. The second is the highest score of 75 in an innings by Brian Lara. The third is highest total runs by an Indian (Sunil Gavaskar) 10, 122. The fourth is the total of 11, 174 by Allan Border of Australia and the fifth is the highest member of centuries (34) by Sunil Gavaskar. As Mushtaq has felt Sachin will
meet the challenge and cross all of these within six or seven years. There cheers for Sachin Tendulkar.