Everyone on this beautiful planet will remember things that made him/her feel awesome as a kid. For me, it is all about the nostalgic 90's. Scooby Doo? Famous Five and then Hardy Boys? Hoho, I do feel a bit nostalgic now.
These days, as a cricket fan, when I see Gayle wielding some implement and sending the ball into the orbit, I do feel a bit nostalgic about the 90's. The decade is long gone into the history books, but batsmen looking for placement and timing and using something that resembled a bat is what I yearn for.
Why am I talking so much about 90's and nostalgia? Well, it is just that 90's was also the decade, when I grew up watching couple of batting maestros of cricket; called Lara and Tendulkar. Both played with contrasting styles, but there was no doubting the fact that both would end up as legends of the game.
On the day when SRT retired from the one-day game, I thought of writing an article on him. Before cricket fans feel like having a sense of nausea; let me assure you-all, this isn't some 111,243,678th tribute written on Tendulkar. Instead, it is about some of the best 44 runs; the author of this article has seen from the bat of Tendulkar. Oh! yes, just 44 runs out of 34,071 runs he has made in internationals.
In a time machine built by a crazy scientist, I for a few minutes go back to April 27th of 1997. The day, West Indies were playing India in a one-day match. It was also a day, when I witnessed a knock which made me realize why SRT is a true great of the game.
It can sometimes be hard to recollect about an innings that was played 15 years ago, but not this one. Envisage a dicey track, where a few deliveries are keeping very low. A few of them are jumping out of a good length too. You can call it as a treacherous track; with the batsman batting at the crease feeling like, why the hell did I choose cricket as a profession. To make matters worse for the batsmen, they were up against men from the land of Brobdingnag called as Ambrose, Bishop and Walsh.
When every batsman was worrying just about survival; there was a gladiator no more than a school ruler, getting into perfect positions to play shots on a treacherous track. Yes, I am thinking about Tendulkar, who unleashed an array of strokes, which you don't expect to see on a dicey track.
During one of the overs bowled by Bish, it almost seemed like SRT was telepathically communicating with the bowler. He got into a good position to play the cut shot so quickly during that over, you just felt like he knew what was Bishop going to bowl. Poor Bish, as lightning seemed to have struck his head.
It wasn't like Bish was bowling utter garbage, as he was hitting decent lengths, but whatever he tried, he was pulled and cut to the boundary boards. SRT didn't even spare the giant with a stare that could make a commander of the army scared to death called Ambrose. The magical knock was finally cut short by an umpire, who must have been blind. When it hits a batsman's shoulder and keeper takes the catch, it can't be given out :)
This innings made me think of what SRT called as a dream like state, when he was batting. Even in my dreams, I can't envisage what that dream like state actually means, but what I can definitely say is; he was a very clever batsman.
If you have noticed his batting closely, you could see that he was quick to judge the pitch and the bowlers, and modified his technique accordingly. In a way, you can say Tendulkar's batting was hypermodern - similar to the chess played by the great grandmasters post 1930. He has invented strokes of his own too. How many times have you seen a classical back-foot drive against finger spinners; er no quicks like Donald and company? SRT played that shot repeatedly at the peak of his prowess.
The knock he played at Trinidad in '97 showed that he judged the pitch better than others, and modified his technique accordingly. As Ambrose, Walsh and co. were banging the ball into the pitch at decent pace, he came up with the short arm pull. Mind you, on a track with variable bounce, it is a tough shot to play, but it was Tendulkar batting in his dream like state. As it was a one-day match, SRT didn't look to roll his wrists to keep the cut shot down either. It simple words, it was a day, when a genius was at work. Hmm, the umpire didn't seem to think so!
Alas! it is time for me to get onto my time machine that will take me back to the present world. A world where cheerleaders are employed to attract more fans to watch a game of cricket. Ah, am I sounding like a grumpy 28 year old, who thinks his childhood days were better? In my defence, just like anyone else, I am nostalgic about my childhood days :)
Hopefully, you have enjoyed this article about the little master at his very best. Next up, I will look at Prince of Trinidad.