Still chasing a dream

It is a matter of pride for all of us that Sachin Tendulkar has dominated the game for such a long time. He is not finished yet though many feel he is in the twilight of his career. His journey is something that cannot be emulated by many.

‘It is not about getting to the top, but staying at the top’, is a cliched statement. And though everyone aspires to scale the summit and stay there, very few realise their ambition. That being the case, one cannot help but wonder and appreciate when an outstanding sportsman gets to the top and stays there on his own for a long time. Of course, the word ‘long’ is relative as a tennis champion’s reign at the top is not likely to extend as much as a golfer’s or a chess champion’s.

In an individual sport, it is a matter of personal and professional pride that obviously drives a player, and the pressure factor is something internal. But in a team sport it is not easy for an individual to outshine the rest on a regular basis and that too for a period spanning two decades. This coupled with the variables that make cricket what it is, and that too in a country where the hopes of millions are riding on the shoulders of one individual, it is humanly impossible for anyone to last as long as 20 years.

Then, of course, these factors don’t deter the true champions as they overcome hurdles of every kind with their ability to carry on with a single-minded purpose. We Indians must be proud that one such champion happens to be Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. It is a matter of pride for all of us that he has dominated the game for such a long time. I hasten to add that he is not finished yet though many feel he is in the twilight of his career. His journey is something that cannot be emulated by many.

Tendulkar’s baptism in international cricket took place on a cold morning in 1989, and right from the time his name appeared in India’s team list, one thing that has followed him all these years is the enormous pressure brought about by the expectations of the millions of followers of the game.

Tendulkar started his voyage in a high pressure series which was followed intensely by the public, and the spotlight was on him straightaway as everyone was curious to know what made this little boy special so as to be picked for the country at such a tender age. Since then, he has gone on to amass runs in both forms of the game, but even today there is no let-up as far the external pressure is concerned.

The little master has enough and more records to his name, but unlike the views expressed by some cynics, Tendulkar is carrying on because of his obsession for the game and not for the money he can rake in. I have used the word ‘obsession’ in the positive sense simply because I believe that Tendulkar, as of now, has not even contemplated what it will be to spend the next year or so without cricket. He is also playing the game because he is still chasing a dream — that of being a part of a World Cup-winning team. Or to put it differently, Tendulkar wants to make serious contributions to enable Team India win the World Cup. Otherwise, he always has the option of easing out of one format of the game to extend his tenure in the other.

The option to ease out of the limited overs format would have been tempting given the hectic match schedules these days. But the little master is by no means devoid of either enthusiasm or motivation. While Tendulkar’s enthusiasm has not dwindled, unfortunately the enthusiasm to scrutinise the little master even today is still intense.

Tendulkar cannot be expected to be as flamboyant as he was in his twenties. And one must remember that he is playing alongside some youngsters who were probably a year old when he made his debut for the country.

The difference in the ages of Suresh Raina and Tendulkar notwithstanding, one cannot ignore the awe that the little master brings about in the opposition ranks. He is obviously trying to eschew risks befitting a seasoned campaigner and playing the role of a mentor to the rest of his colleagues. He will be the senior statesman from whom the rest can glean as much as they can in the next year or so as the time will come when even Tendulkar will have to exit the stage. Until such time, it is better that the little master is left alone to do his bit for the team and enjoy his presence at the crease. There is no guarantee that he will provide the thrills, but at least he will not give precedence to frills and get on with his job.

Tendulkar has laboured a lot for the country in the last two decades and has left everyone gasping with his deeds. Ponting may be the leading contender for overhauling a few of his records, but that again is something we will have to wait and see. Regardless of what happens in the future, I can vouch for the fact that Tendulkar will gladly swap all his records for a World Cup triumph, being the team man that he is. For his sake and, of course, for the Nation’s sake, may God be with Tendulkar and Team India at the next World Cup.