Part of lndia's World Cup-winning squad and the team that took India to its No. 1 Test ranking, Sachin Tendulkar has blazed his way through the cricketing world for more than two decades, tearing through matches and records alike. The highest run-getter in both Tests and ODIs in the history of the game, he has also reached what is a truly fabulous milestone-one hundred international centuries.
Sachin: Cricketer if the Century takes the reader on a journey from stellar innings to stellar innings, surveying the batting genius's brilliant career through the eyes of a pantheon of people who are legends in their own right-from Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Nasser Hussain and Courtney Walsh to Waqar Younis, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.
This is the ultimate tribute to the greatest batsman the modern era has seen.
'There cannot be another Sachin Tendkulkar’
Vimal Kumar studied journalism at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (lIMC), Delhi, and started his professional career with the International Management Group's Trans World International (IMG-TWI). He has since worked for TV Today Network (Aaj Tak and Headlines Today) and Network 18 (IBN7 and CNN-IBN) in their Hindi and English channels as a sports journalist. Besides his regular work on television as deputy sports editor for lBN7, he has also contributed to publications like Sports Illustrated, Outlook, Mid-Day, the Tribune, Child, Cricket Samrat, Cricket Today and websites like IBNlive.com, Cricketnext.com and lBNkhabar.com.
Vimal has covered two cricket World Cups, in 2007 and 2011, and has reported on cricket in most of the Test-playing nations. He also presents guest lectures in lIMC and Manav Rachna University. His Twitter handle is @Vimalwa.
Sachin is just phenomenal. He is one individual I have admired for years. Though Bradman is much revered in the modern cricketing world, I have never seen him bat. I have, however, seen Sachin batting, which is for me the best thing in batsmanship-he is simply magnificent. When people ask about me, and Sachin says that he wants aggression like mine (along with Sunny's solidness), it is very pleasing-I am over the moon. It is the greatest compliment for me that such a figure, one so humble, says that he wants to bat like me! I would return the compliment and say Sachin is a class act.
I would have loved to have had Sachin's solidness. He is the perfect example of a top-class cricketer-no one has said a bad word about him. You see many guys who haven't achieved anything and who strut as if they have achieved everything. But Sachin is very down to earth. You would like your kid to emulate him in preparation, Storing and staying power. That Sachin has been there for so long shows that he is solid. In many ways, Sachin reminds me of Sunny Gavaskar.
Whenever they play a defensive shot, it is a defensive shot. Some young players want to be defensive and yet want to score. They forget that attack and defence must be separated- something Sachin does perfectly.
If Wisden Almanack does that survey [five cricketers of the century, last done in 2000] again now, Sachin could be at the top. His figures suggest that. Feople who sit on the panel are influenced by what kind of impact a player has made, what kind of effect he has on [his team] Vvinning. In that regard, Sachin is number one. I would happily take the number six in that list of cricketers of the century.
Sachin's overall personality and his off-the-field conduct are two fine, outstanding characteristics that set him apart. Shane Warne was a personality on and off the field and a little more eccentric than Sachin. With Sachin, you want to emulate him one hundred per cent. In terms of mannerism and conduct, he gets maximum marks in all respects, Sachin has led his personality in the right direction and it has helped him accomplish the things he has. It has played its part.
A genius like Sachin has also struggled through some tough times. It's all about how you work harder and how you make a comeback. Sachin has come back better than anyone else. He has had some problems with injuries, but has always had a solid head What is also remarkable is Sachin's motivation against the so-called lesser opposition. I never had the opportunity to play against those teams but Sachin has; and he has always taken them on with the same intensity and motivation with, which he faces other teams. It shows how much of a professional he is and how solid his mental prowess is.
11 December 1988: The day is still fresh in my mind. I had been in journalism barely a few months. Working at the Times of India, I chose to bunk work that afternoon to watch what many cricket lovers believed was history in the making. Sachin Tendulkar was playing his first first-class game against Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy at the Wankhede Stadium. There . Had been schoolboy prodigies who had faded away in the past. This boy, with rosy cheeks and curly locks, the pundits told us, was different. For once they were right.
Tendulkar came in to bat that December afternoon sometime after lunch. A little after tea he had scored a century on debut. My editor was kind enough to allow me to write a front-page story the next morning. 'A new sun has risen in Indian cricket and its glow will dazzle the world in the years to come,' was how the article began. The glow has now become a universe of sunshine.
Tendulkar was 15 years and 232 days old when he scored that century. The Berlin Wall had still not fallen, the Soviet Union was still intact, Saddam ruled Iraq, Gaddafi ran Libya, Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister and India was still in the era of the licence-permit raj. Twenty-three years later, the world has changed, but what has not changed is Tendulkar's insatiable appetite for run-scoring. That first century now seems like just one line in a magnum opus which continues to unfold in truly dramatic fashion.
Capturing that remarkable journey through all the years and all the runs isn't easy, but that's precisely what this unique book written by my friend and colleague Vimal Kumar has done. As you leaf through the pages, you will be taken down memory lane, reminded of all those remarkable moments when Tendulkar held his bat aloft and looked up to the gods as if to thank the Divine for a special gift that had been bestowed upon him.
This book is about more than just statistics and milestones. By getting those who knew Sachin and played with and against him to write about his centuries (many of them champions in their own right), Vimal has provided cricket lovers a rare insider's perspective on the legend of Tendulkar. Only a skilled cricket journalist who loves the game and relishes its history would have even ventured to embark on the task that Vimal has undertaken, a challenge for which he deserves all credit. Like any Tendulkar century, this book too has been crafted with a joy and passion that is infectious. Enjoy it and feel young again. Because that's what the Tendulkar magic is about: it cuts across generations and makes us all feel like free-spirited teenagers. Whenever you feel old and tired, just turn a leaf of this book. Reading about a Tendulkar century is enough to make the world.
What else is left to write about Sachin Tendulkar? This is the first question everyone asks when you say you're writing a book on the Master. Fair enough. Tendulkar's career, unparalleled in Indian history, has been followed closely in the media all these years. But this book does something that's never been done before it lets us see his career through the eyes of the legends of the game, in the words of his mates and rivals.
On the Noida-Delhi expressway, there is a huge billboard urging people to drive carefully as 'Tendulkar is yet to score his 20ath hundred'. This captures the essence of what Tendulkar means to us, especially to the people of my generation, who grew up with his cricket. Gaurav Kalra and Siddhartha Vaidyanathan have written eloquently about it. I was in school and had barely got acquainted with the words 'bowling' and batting' in my neighbourhood playgrounds when Tendulkar debuted for India in 1989. His Sydney 100 in 1992 forced me to learn the nuances of Test cricket. (There are even allegations by my elders that Tendulkar's show in the 1993 Test series against England affected my tenth board percentage.) I still recall important family events of happiness and sorrow inevitably linked to his highs and lows in international cricket: my older sister's wedding in 1996 is tied to Tendulkar's marvellous show in the World Cup; my older brother's serious illness in 1999 is sadly connected to his 100 in the Melbourne Test on a disastrous tour of Australia; the birth of my nephew coincides with his Chennai Test 100 in 2001; and my niece's arrival in the world is fondly recalled with his superlative 98 against Pakistan in 2003 World Cup.
A cable operator in a small town like Ournka was forced to buy an expensive transponder so that guys like us could watch the one-day international games (OOIs) telecast from Toronto on ESPN in 1996. We paid the diesel bill for another cable operator in 1998 from our small savings (pocket money) so that we could watch Tendulkar score his 100 in New Zealand, since matches started at 3 a.m. 1ST, at which time there was usually no electricity and the cablewallah would not start his power backup just for cricket. Till 1999, we used to turn our TVs off the moment Tendulkar got out as there was no hope from other players. Our elders would be caught in a catch-22 situation as Tendulkar's failure would disappoint them, but they would be relieved that the boys could now concentrate on their studies, But this is not just the story of the personal bond I feel with Tendulkar. There are similar stories for each of the millions of Indian children who grew up with Tendulkar's ascent in international cricket.
Ever since Tendulkar announced his retirement from ODIs, Indian cricket has felt a little empty. It is sad that the news came through a BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) press release and Sachin's fans did not get a chance to give him a standing ovation in the ground, something he has always deserved, especially in a format in which he is universally acknowledged as the greatest player of all time.
Tendulkar is now nearly forty years old and has played international cricket for almost a quarter of a century. Along the way, he has scored an unimaginable 100 centuries. So profound and unique was the milestone that even Sachin struggled for around a year after the ninety-ninth. Not too long ago, just playing 100 Tests was good enough to be counted as really good, even great, and the traditional way of assessing a batsman's greatness in cricket was twenty Test 100s. In the twenty-first century, averaging above 50 runs per match replaced the twenty-Test-100 yardstick. But how do you judge someone who has averaged over 50 in close to 200 Test matches? And then, of course, there is that little statistic of having played 463 one-day international (ODI) games and averaging 44.83 as well. So perhaps it was only natural and appropriate that the Cricketer of the Century both literally and figuratively would be judged or estimated on only one criterion-a criterion by which no cricketer has ever been judged.
This unique record gives us the opportunity to write something new about a legendary cricketer. I have been following Sachin's career professionally only in the new century. Moving from being an awestruck fan to a media professional, I began to take a dispassionate view of Sachin both as a cricketer and as a human being.
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