Sachin – The Greatest Of Them All
He is the greatest of them all. Ganguly, Kumble, Dravid, Laxman are all but mortals. But Sachin is different. He is the reason why I watch cricket. When he bats, one-sixth of the world watches on. Hard-pressed employees of software cos sneak into their cafeteria to watch him bat. Young boys returning from schools stop by a TV store to watch him bat. Housewives oscillate between the drawing room and the kitchen to watch him bat. The world stands still.
People talk about the Big Four in the Indian line-up. For me, there was never a Big Four. It was always the Big Three and the Great One. Sachin is different. He is not just a cricketer. He is the representation of a billion dreams. When he crosses 50, people start praying for him to reach a hundred. And when he gets there, the whole of India gasps as one. A billion gasps. Smiles on a billion faces. Even if its for a second. It helps them keep faith that prayers are still heard. Sachin is not just a cricketer.
Sachin is one of the few Indians of my generation whom one can look up to. He is the pride of modern India, somewhat like the Taj Mahal. Sachin is different. When he hits away Glenn McGrath or Brett Lee with disdain, it inspires people. It fills them with self belief. That India can take on the best in the world. That India will not be intimidated or overwhelmed by anyone. That it will strive towards perfection, and one day lead the world.
Cricket fans have divided loyalties. At various points in their career, each one of the Big Three and Kumble have seen people calling for their heads. But no one can touch Sachin. He is untouchable. Why ? He is the poster boy of Indian cricket. He defines Indian cricket. He unifies all that is Indian. Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata…. wherever he plays, people want to see him get a hundred. And he’s got them time and time again. Each hundred a sense of truimph for the people who cheer for him. Sachin is different.
When Sachin retires, I will no more watch cricket. Yes, I may keep an eye on the scores, but not the cricket. Why ? Dhoni and his boys are doing well, and they may continue to do so. But you don’t watch cricket to see the team playing well. Or do you? Surely that cannot keep you hooked on for 7 hours a day. Only Sachin can do that. And when he goes away, there’ll be no one left to look for. No one to keep praying for, no one to keep the smiles coming. No one to fill you with pride and self belief. Because only Sachin could do that. Sachin is different. He is the greatest of them all.