2004 : Celebrate No. 34; it follows Nos 1-33Harsha Apr 17th, 2016
India have enjoyed themselves enormously against Bangladesh and that was expected. They have set many new records and that too was expected, because Bangladesh have been poor; in the mind and on the ground. They merely seem to turn up; the question is not whether they will win or lose but whether they will lose on the third day or the fourth. That is why it is critical that they know what it is to win and so they must play teams below them as they must teams above them.
But undermine the records set against them at your own peril. Tendulkar’s and Kumble’s records were merely the last step of a long journey; we must celebrate the journey as we must the last step. Tendulkar has finished 15 years in international cricket, the last of the Test players to have played in the 80s, and Kumble will get there in April. Such journeys are in themselves indicators of great ability.
Tendulkar’s double century wasn’t his finest composition. True he was battling an unusual run of scores, and a pain in the elbow that refuses to go away, and once past 50 he became an immovable object. But his standards are high and he is condemned to be compared to himself for he has created an extraordinary collection of symphonies. Like Kumble at Kolkata he now owns half a record, a 50 percent share of what was considered the most difficult world record to reach.
You don’t normally associate Tendulkar with endurance, that is for the artisans who toil away, and yet now we must also salute this quality. He has destroyed attacks, he has flown more like a waterfall than like a stream, but he has endured. Sometimes the most visible quality dwarfs others and, as we rejoice in his great skill, we must bow to his longevity as well.
His body carries the scars of the journey and each time he adapts his style to overcome a new obstacle. And he does it quietly. At Dhaka his elbow hurt and so he restricted his stylish on-side shots and reverted to playing solidly down the ground. Maybe it will be a blessing in disguise for there are few grander sights in the game than Tendulkar sending the ball back in the direction it came from.
Sunil Gavaskar thinks 50 Test centuries is realistic and that is an interesting thought. With three centuries a year for six years he will get there but for that his body must hold that long. And he must continue to love cricket and see himself capable of withstanding the challenges of young men bowling against an ageing body. Such thoughts will probably not enter his mind for another three years but the real challenge will begin thereafter.
For Irfan Pathan life is a bit of a party at the moment. He reminds me very much of Tendulkar when he started, the same zest, the same desire to learn, the same infatuation with the game. Sharing a dressing room with Tendulkar will do him an enormous amount of good. Tendulkar at 21 was a bundle of energy, he possessed so much that conserving it was never an issue.
Now he manages his energy very well and, being a bowler, Pathan might need to think about that in course of time. But today, a year since he made his Test debut, he is everywhere; bowling 10 overs in one spell, then chasing everything in the deep. Life is great when you are his age and you can see that in the way he plays.
He is also swinging the ball as well as anyone else in the game. And he has the wonderful ability to land the first ball where he wants it to. The best bowlers in the world do that, the first question is asked with the first ball.
In recent times, young bowlers have been encouraged to charge in and hit the deck hard and swing bowling, as a result, grows rare. That means batsmen have less exposure to it and so a good swing bowler will tend to trouble more batsmen than a seamer. Wasim Akram reckons he will become quicker and already he has shown the ability to hit 140 kmph.
It is nice that he sits in the same dressing room as Kumble and Tendulkar, two great champions who have managed to retain their humility. As in life, in sport too, it is a wonderful quality to possess.
Published: December 17, 2004
Pic Source: espncricinfo