Let me confess to begin with. I am fan-turned-critic-turned-detractor-turned-fan of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar! And no, my latest transformation didn't happen when the little big man of world cricket took that memorable single to make 200 for the first time in the four decades that one day internationals have existed on this planet! It is rather the little master's work ethic and his insatiable hunger and unquenchable thirst to get runs after playing for 20 long years just leaves me speechless.
India were about to tour Pakistan in 1989 and the team was just anounced. A school-boy cricketer from Mumbai had just made into the hallowed team. The telugu paper read "Udayabhanudu Sachin Tendulkar" which says here is the rising sun! You bet, it met with a sneer and utter contempt from our school friends. But we were not to be blamed. Those were the times when the Indian batsmen used to lord over the bowlers in Ranji and Duleep Trophies and then miserably failed in the international outings. India was desperate to find its next hero. The little man arrived. Although he carted Qadir and co to all parts of the park in that exhibition match, not much notice was taken of. All the same, the school boy look was so endearing that we hoped and prayed he succeeded. We could relate to this little man in some way. And then we arrived in England in 1990. The little man plays a match saving knock in Manchester. We start believing the Hero we were looking for has truly arrived! 1991-92 Australia tour only strengthened our belief and endearment. The sight of Mervin Hughes - almost twice the height and width of Sachin disappearing all over Perth (the bounciest wicket at the time) - is etched in memory of die hard Sachin maniacs. What followed as they say is history. In retrospect I suspect if that telugu paper had a soothsayer on their editorial board!
Thrust with the captaincy at the age of 23 when most sons are still pocket money sons of their fathers, Sachin had a tough time. But not with the bat though. I will leave you to search around in stats guru, but he did as well as a batsman as he did at any other time. India were trounced down under and it was just too much. But then wisdom prevailed. SRT went back what he does best leaving aside captaincy - hit bowlers all over the park! It is a bit of tragedy that only in the latter half of his career, starting with the Saurav-John Wright era, the little man has found able mates who can gel together as a consistently winning team.
Whole world is waiting for a century if centuries to happen. We are also keen to see India win the world cup and SRT contribute to it significantly. After all, place your hand on the heart and tell me, does not this little man deserve this for his insatiable thirst for runs, incessant scoring of runs, exempleray behaviour on and off the field and an exceptional work ethic that has ensured he enthralls us for over two decades? Cricket was waiting for the next Don... and God said, Let there be SRT!