"Sachin Tendulkar is the greatest cricketer that the game of cricket has ever seen”.
“No one has enthralled and bewitched the cricketing world the way Sachin did”.
“He is the biggest inspiration of our lives.”
“No cricketer can even come close to him.”
These are some of the very common phrases that his worshippers use. And the worshippers of the master have gone out of their way and proved to many people that Tendulkar is the greatest cricketer of all time.
But then, Sachin Tendulkar, as was the case with other cricketers, was not perfect.....
"Dravid probably played more match winning knocks than Tendulkar". And when a Sachin fan hears this statement, he retorts, “But the pressure Dravid faced was nothing compared to what Tendulkar faced.”
"Kohli will probably go on to score more runs than Sachin.” A Tendulkar fan immediately retorts, “But Kohli scored his runs against easier bowling attacks and in extremely batsman-friendly conditions.”
Yes. Tendulkar was an extremely special cricketer. The cricketing world will never see another Tendulkar. His ability to play that straight drive with minimum fuss, that back foot punch that split cover and mid-off with precision, his ability to rise on his toes and flick the ball effortlessly past mid-wicket endeared us to him, and made us fall for him.
When he hit that hundred at Perth in 1992 as an up and coming 18-year-old, our hearts swelled with pride. When he dismantled Shane Warne and co. in Sharjah, we jumped up with joy. When he went past Sunil Gavaskar and scored his 35th Test hundred, we felt elated. And when his valiant 175 against Australia went in vain, he sent us into a prolonged state of sadness, and finally, when he bid adieu to the sport in November 2013, we wept our hearts out.
It was as if, with his retirement, he was also taking a part of us with him. No cricketer was able to capture his place in the hearts of so many of us, and stay relevant for such a long time as Tendulkar did in his unprecedented career.
But then, didn’t he have his faults as well? Was Tendulkar a good captain? Why was he not able to score in a World Cup Final even though he got the opportunity twice? Did the enormity of the occasion get to him? Why did so many of the master’s centuries go in vain? These are some of the questions that we, Sachin fans conveniently choose to ignore, and even if confronted, give an excuse or belittle the other players.
The thing with Tendulkar is this- We have become extremely possessive with Tendulkar, and this love towards him, has made us oblivious to his faults.
There will surely come a day when someone better than Tendulkar arrives (I do not mean Kohli here), someone who will come and score more runs than him, someone possibly, who can captivate us just like Tendulkar did.
But the question is, are we ready to accept him? Will the Tendulkar fan in us accept that someone can possibly be better than our 'God'?