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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What to do when Uncertainty is Certain and Nobody knows Nothing

When J P Morgan was asked in the early 1900’s on his view on what the market will do, he famously said, “It will fluctuate.” But a lot of people seriously believe that they can actually predict where the market will be, or where a particular stock or sector will be in the next few days, weeks or months. A lot of other people believe that there exist such people, and hence believe such people.

“Will the market be at 20000 or below 14000 by end of the year?”

“Will Stock A reach its price target of 123 in the next 6 months?”

“Will Sector XYZ beat Sector DEF in the next 2 quarters?”

uncertainty-buy-sell-sell-smA lot of people give confident answers to these questions. Which sometimes makes me wonder whether they are in the business of being correct or being confident. I think it is more of the latter. Because intuitively it seems to me that trying to predict prices, levels or direction of the market is a bit like trying to predict the team score or that of a batsman in a cricket match.

“Will India score 300 in the first innings?”

or like our latest obsession “Will Sachin get his 100th 100 in this series?”

Well – answers to both these sets of questions should be like the famous ad ‘No idea.’

Market levels are like the scoreboard. There is no fool-proof way by which one can predict the scoreboard and claim to do it accurately every time. One can use all the past data in the world, and analyze the pitch and the conditions as much as possible, but whether the batsman scores or loses his wicket really only depends on how he plays the next ball. And there will never be any certainty about what will happen on the next ball. So all you can do in cricket is to focus on the next ball.

Pretty similar to the markets or perhaps life itself. Well that may be carrying the metaphor too far. But all one can do is to evaluate every price that Mr Market throws at you and play it on its merit. On where it will go next, the answer is simple, ‘No idea.’  John Bogle once famously said, “Nobody knows nothing.”

But even the greatest investors sometimes buy the wrong stocks at the wrong time, like the greatest sportsmen sometimes make the mistake of playing at a ball they should have left alone. Warren Buffett knows that, and so does Sachin Tendulkar. So sometimes they lose their wickets when they shouldn’t have.

But then the game continues. You come back again and get ready to focus on the next ball thrown at you. If you play it well on its merit, you don’t lose your wicket and score. That’s the only certainty in the game of glorious uncertainties. It is a simple game really.

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