A Hundred Hundreds: The Phenomenon I saw play cricket

One hundred lesser would not have made Sachin Tendulkar a lesser legend in anybody’s eyes.

Like the last four runs that Sir Don Bradman did not score did not make him any lesser a batsman. The last successive Wimbledon title that Federer failed to win in a row did not make him a lesser tennis player in the history of the game. But it did make the heart cry, and so would it have been, I must admit, if Sachin would have retired without scoring his hundredth international hundred. The mind craves perfection from our idols, and so sits the burden of expectation that we force them to live with.

ahundredhundredsSo finally when he did achieve it, it is unfair to call it a relief, even though it took a long time coming, given the enormity of the achievement. 99 hundreds is great enough, but 100 is even better. Honestly, in some sense, it is a meaningless record – adding up test and ODI hundreds. Simply because if someone else comes up who scores 75 one day hundreds (not a statistical impossibility) and 25 t20 hundreds, it would simply not be the same as what Sachin has done.

A lot has been said about Sachin’s records (and will perhaps be said when he eventually retires), his multiple hundreds, how they shaped India’s cricketing destiny, inspired a generation of cricketers and fans, and so much more. So saying any more on his record and achievements is like going to a school and repeating the school prayer that all students wake up with every morning and know by heart anyway. So suffice it to say that in a world where most people are far from greatness, where even trying to live up to an ordinary, average life is not easy, where even if you identify a passion, following it is not easy, or even if you have potential, living up to it is not easy; Sachin has been someone who not only followed his passion, lived it up fully to his potential with his stupendous achievements, but, more amazingly, did it when the whole world expected only greatness from him and no less, and was constantly watching him in expectatation – almost right from the first time he came in the international arena. That must take something.

There are few phenomena in the history of sport that stay alive through generations. There used to be a generation of football fans who boasted that they saw Pele play soccer live in action, and tell other soccer fans what they have missed in their life. And there used to be a generation of boxing fans who thrived on telling everyone that they saw Muhammad Ali, the greatest, play boxing live in action.

Many years from now, I and people of my generation would, perhaps, look back and tell young cricket fans of that time that I belonged to the generation of cricket fans who saw Sachin Tendulkar play cricket.

A Hundred Hundreds

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