So its finally happened. At long last, The Little Master has finally scored his highly anticipated made up statistic of 100 centuries. A feat that will not be repeated by anybody else in the game. This is his equivalent of Bradman’s 99.94, a number that will forever shine on in cricket as the perfect example of the largesse and power of the sport. Cricketers are big, and none of them are as big as Sachin, but cricket is bigger. It is something he has made a point of reminding the rest of us over and over again.
And yet, even in this historic achievment of his, there were complainers and doubters. Such is human fickleness that there will always be those who will never come close to ever achieving anything as massive as the Tendulkars, Federers and Armstrongs, but they will be the first to belittle and criticise. Fine, I understand that. There is such a thing as compensation, and try as we might to hide it, you can spot it.
However, for my sake, I would like to reply to the issues people have had with his century of centuries, going through all the ‘arguments’ that are being put forward as intellectual debate:
- His century was against a weak team: Right on cue, Bangladesh defeated India. Cricket is a funny game. It is one of those rare team sports where individual records are highly recognised and praised. However, that does not automatically translate into wins for the rest of the team. If there was ever a clear indication on the difference between an individual statistic and a team win, this was it. A century of centuries could not help India win the game. In the end, it is up to the whole team to perform for a team to win.
- His century came in a tournament that is not important: Yes, today’s India v. Pakistan match was so unimportant. Who decides what is important and what isn’t? I cannot understand how a tournament can go from useless to most-important-thing-in-the-world in the span of two days. And yes, Asia Cup does not have the same gloss or prestige as a World Cup, but does that mean that Sachin shouldn’t play in it? It is his job. To play cricket. There will be days when he will have to show up and do his work on things that are not that important. It’s called working. Everybody does it. Only thing is, he does it without complaining and in front of everybody.
- Who cares about Sachin’s century when Bangladesh won: I did not realise that these two achievement were meant to be celebrated mutually exclusively. Is it not possible for me to recognise his immense achievement for the sport I love and the incredible heist that Bangladesh pulled off in the same match? This is not an either/or situation. Both can and should be celebrated for what they are.
Think of pressure. Think of longevity. Think of hunger, interest, passion. Think of hard work. Think of achievements. Think of working with different people over the course of your life. Think of constant analysis and criticism of your work. Think of not saying or doing the wrong thing, ever. Think of all these things. And then think of being on the top of your game for 23 years. Think of the toll on your mind. Think of the toll on your body. Think of the toll on you.