As I type this post, I am being told by several people who seem to care so much about this record that it has been 302 days since Sachin Tendulkar hit his last century in any form of cricket. I have to confess that this record that Sachin has been made to chase has been bothering me as well, even though at the outset I consider this as the most ridiculous statistical record in Cricket you can think of. So to me this is as irrelevant as trying to cross 10000 total miles (or some such number) by driving a car and a bike combined over a period of time. Yes, there is some sense of accomplishment. But trivial. Because driving a car and riding a bike mean totally different things.
Yet, here we are.
What I can’t figure out is why this man is chasing his 100th century in test matches? Why did he opt out of the ODI series against WI when he had all the ammunition he needed to score a 100 because he would have opened the batting? And his record in scoring centuries as an opener is spectacular.
Of course, I love his batting. Who doesn’t? But I am neither a fan of Sachin to the point that I appreciate everything he does on & off the field nor a critic that I do the exact opposite by calling him a selfish player (which seems to be the most common accusation). So I feel I have a fair view in presenting my armchair punditry.
The biggest ailment in Sachin Tendulkar’s batting since he scored his last century on March 12, 2011 vs South Africa (Nagpur) is his mental state. Contrary to what all his admirers think that he is doing a really fantastic job of carrying the expectations of the entire nation on his shoulders without much of a mental strain, he actually has been carrying a big monkey around his shoulders for the last 300 odd days because is a human being. He is not “God” (of course – I mean God in a traditional sense..not in a Higgs Boson sense). Beyond this 100 100s monkey, every time he has gone out to play for India in a game, I am sure he goes through enormous amount of pressure & mental stress that none of us will ever know of. By dehumanizing him, the Tendulkar fans have only made it more difficult for him to be what he really is.
Notwithstanding the superlative form he has been in since his last hundred, especially if you look at the series of 60s, 70s and 80s he has made, I can’t help but conclude that this monkey that he has been made to carry is taking its toll. Even though he has come out positive in most of the above knocks when he started off the innings, he had invariably gone on the defensive mode once he crossed 60 runs or so. This is a problem. Sachin Tendulkar shouldn’t think he has to score a 100 which makes him cautious once he inches closer to the mark. It is all easier said than done. But then that is what armchair punditry is about right?
I hope he works on this aspect of his game. Of course he can never get rid off the monkey till he actually gets rid off it by scoring a 100. In the meantime, at least he should tell himself that the monkey is harmless and it doesn’t do much other than just sit on his shoulders. If he can somehow tell himself that, may be..may be..he will not go defensive after he crosses 60 runs.
Having said that, in all honesty, I don’t think he is going to score his 100th 100 in Australia in the test series. I will be glad if I am proven wrong. His best chances were against WI in India. Now he has got to wait for another home series and more importantly, he should be willing to play the 50 over format games to increase his chances.
As the little master continues his trivial pursuit, so do we..