Sachin Tendulkar as a batsman and as a person is one who has inspired me the most till date. I have been watching him play since the time of my earliest memories of cricket, when I was just 3 or 4 years old, up till present day, where he is playing his last Test match. I could never have imagined a person who can be so calm, down to earth and without any attitude whatsoever, even after 24 years of successful international cricket. When I scored good marks in one subject, I used to show a lot of attitude towards all my friends but how can a person be without attitude after playing at that level for this long.
If anyone makes comments about me, I give everyone a nice hearing without even knowing what exactly the truth was but in his 24 years of International Cricket, Sachin never said a word about all his critics – he just let his bat answer all the questions.
These are the two important points which influenced me the most about Sachin.
In the game of Cricket there have been a lot of performers that stood out but Sachin was special and different for various reasons. At an age of 16 years he started playing International cricket which was exceptional and he was facing one of the best attacks of pace bowling against Pakistan with the likes of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.
He scored his 3rd test hundred in Perth which is considered the fastest track in the world cricket. When Mark Taylor spoke about his first impression of Sachin during his tour of Australia in 1991-1992 he said, generally Indian batsmen are not that comfortable playing flat batted shots instead they would prefer to play with the full face of the bat and tend to get in slip cordon but Sachin was very different as he was very fluent in playing both cross batted and flat batted shots which explains Sachin was prepared when he went on to play in Australia. Another most important point mentioned was he was very comfortable in playing both on the front foot and back foot which was a rare sight in the Indian team at that time.
I have heard a lot of people criticizing Sachin saying whenever he scores India loses. Though it was proven wrong by stats, till date I never understood what Sachin could have done for other people not playing well. I remember Shane Warne commenting on the Indian team during the early 90’s that India was a defensive team who would prefer not to lose rather than winning a game. Sachin played at that time and he tried his best for the team to win if you look at Sachin’s batting at that time he was always taking the attack to the bowlers, whomsoever they were and where ever they played, which no one else from the team tried. If you had forgotten that, let us look into some games where India lost when Sachin scored runs. Let us start with the Coca – cola cup in Sharjah where India required 237 in 46 overs to qualify into the finals, Sachin fought single-handedly and tried to give India an assured qualification into the finals but that couldn’t happen, as in that match, Sachin scored 143 with the next highest score in the Indian team being just 39 runs! There was nothing that could have been done unless anyone else in the team had performed.
In January 1999, India was playing against Pakistan at Chennai where Sachin had scored 136 in a chase of 271. He got out leaving India at 17 runs short of victory with three wickets in hand. The team collapsed in just 5 runs and lost the test match back then. What could Sachin have done for that? In those innings, only three batsmen from the Indian team reached a double figure score while the rest fumbled in single digits. If you consider the chase of 350 against Australia in 4th ODI in 2009/2010, Sachin scored 175 runs and he made sure the run rate never reached 8 or lesser and when he had departed from that game, India had to score only 19 runs from 17 balls in a power play, but again the team fumbled. In the entire Indian innings there was only a single half century during the chase of 350. Sachin gave his best for the team and if the team doesn’t win even when he scored one of his best then in my view, he should be respected for what he has done. If you don’t like to respect him, that’s your call, at least don’t criticize Sachin for scoring while others didn’t even manage to give a performance. If I keep explaining it will never end.
In the time Sachin played for India, India has produced a lot of other excellent players like Dravid, Kumble, Laxman and Ganguly but for me Sachin was special because Sachin has played with players from three different generations. The last player to retire from Sachin’s debut test team was in 1999 which is just three years after Dravid and Ganguly’s debut matches. Sachin and Dravid were born in the same year but by the time Dravid made his debut Sachin had already been into international cricket for seven years which is more than most of the present day cricketers. What I mean to convey here is that playing at an International level since an age of 16 was a lot different from playing International cricket at 23 when most of the other Indian cricket stars started their careers. The most important point I like about Sachin is he changed his batting according to the conditions and situations. When he was young he was attacking and when he became a senior member in the team he reduced his aggression for the team which helped youngsters build their innings around him. If you remember his ODI debut as a opener or the Innings played in Sharjah you can clearly see what a destructive player he was but he then changed his batting according to the team’s requirements. Although, whenever needed, we could see the Sachin we saw in Sharjah! The best example can be his innings against Australia in the chase of 350 or the 200 Sachin had scored.
The most important reason for Sachin’s success throughout all these years was his preparation for a match, which was amazing. His preparation was no different when he was playing for a Ranji Trophy or an International match. He always knew which bowlers were going to bowl at him and he was ready for it at all times. In 1997/98 when Australia was touring India, Sachin knew it would be a challenge to face Shane Warne on Indian tracks, so for the preparation of playing against Warne especially when Warne was bowling around the wicket on to the footmarks he asked Laxman Sivaramakrishnan to bowl to him from around the wicket and practiced in that manner. He had also asked left-hand bowlers to bowl on the rough side to prepare himself to face Warne.
His preparation sometimes failed too, the perfect example was the first innings dismissal in Chennai test match where Shane Warne was bowling and Sachin was caught at slip by Taylor, but Sachin’s determination to perform well seldom reduced. In that match, laxman said that he had seen Sachin crying because he had given his wicket away cheaply to Warne. But in the same game, in the second innings he went and scored 150+ runs on a spinning Chennai track on day 3 and 4, which was remarkable.
Sachin has influenced a lot of youngsters to play cricket. I remember when I was a kid, being an Indian and a terrible fan, I used to switch off my television when Sachin got out. But today, the Indian team is a position of chasing any target thrown at them .If you ask them – ‘Who inspired you the most from the team?’ – the answer would be the same from all of them! Sachin! In which Dhoni, the eldest of all in the present Indian team would’ve been too. People say Sachin is just all about statistics, but in this article, I have not at all mentioned Sachin’s ODI or Test runs or his Centuries or any other stats. Sachin is an inspiration for all the youngsters who wish to grow up and develop as a cricketer. He was an example for what a person could achieve with passion and Hard work.
Playing for 24 years is no joke if a person plays as long as 24 years he is supposed to create lot of records and Sachin did it but Sachin is a common man with love and passion towards cricket and had an extreme hard working nature which let him achieve his dream of playing for his nation – could not have been done better by anyone else!
This guest article was submitted by Navaneeth Reddy, who is a die hard cricket fan with Sachin Tendulkar as his inspiration