The 628 - The Sachin Tendulkar conspiracy
27 Nov 2009 - 13:39:15
You may have missed it, but last week mondo cricket celebrated 20 years of the greatest batsman, and possibly the finest man, to have walked the earth since Arthur Collins, Mr Sachin Tendulkar.
Some fine prose marked the event: "Tendulkar is about a plantation standing up to the typhoon, the skyscraper that stands tall, the cannon that booms." - Harsha Bogle.
"More than any other batsman, even Brian Lara, Tendulkar's batting has provoked gasps of admiration." - Peter Roebuck.
There was plenty of this stuff and bet your eyes haven't blinked. Heaping praise on sportsmen, nothing new there, but when it comes to Sachin Tendulkar, he treds a lone path of reverence.
628 thought it would hurl a few grenades at cult Tendulkar and hack off the biggest fan base in world sport - argue Sachin's not the best batsmen of the modern era; claim the 20th anniversary love-in was a marketing gimmick solely designed to brand him the greatest because that's where the dollar is, you'll very possibly find your name next to fool in a Hindi dictionary.
Oh what hell! 628 gave folly a go. The first eye-rolling, breath-holding pause at the promote Sachin as no1 banjo was Tendulkar's profile in the much respected Cricinfo: "The most complete batsmen of his time, batting...based on the purest principles: perfect balance, economy of movement, precision in stroke-making…doesn't have a signature stroke…because he is equally proficient in each of the full range of orthodox shots (and plenty of improvised ones as well) and can pull them out at will."
All run-of-the-mill Sachin worship. But read cricinfo's profile of the man at no2 in the all time test match run list and you may agree with 628s view that pushing Sachin as the finest batsmen of the era is a biased affair.
BC Lara's record is made to look like Garrincha's to Pele's. If there once was a debate about who was the best, it is over, partly because Lara retired, but primarily because there's no money in acclaiming Lara.
But it's politic to big up Sachin and there's plenty of rupee in it. It's only a small fact that Tendulkar has scored more runs in international cricket than anyone else.
628 was a bit upset that BC Lara, its preferred no1 of the era, was being supplanted; second placed into history by the commercial logic driving Tendulkar to undisputed status.
Is there really a better batsman than one with Lara's nine double hundreds? Did Peter Roebuck, a sound judge if ever there was one, really write that that no one had provided more gasps of admiration in cricket than Tendulkar. More than Lara?
628 went to see Angus Fraser, the first Englishman to dismiss Tendulkar in a test match and possibly the first to sign him to play Twenty20 county cricket for his thoughts.
Fraser, that rare thing, an ex-player who was a good cricket correspondent and now managing director of Middlesex, offered a balanced view and couldn't choose between the two.
That was the status quo ante. No fag paper between Lara and Sachin. For 628 it was and always will be Lara, before him Richards, and before him Sobers, all Indian - West Indian that is.
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