Ninety Minutes of Divinity

Written by  //  October 10, 2010  //  Sport  //  2 Comments

(Warning: This is (yet another) piece extolling the brilliance of Sachin’s batting today. If you’ve already read the 3504 pieces already written across the world on the same topic, you may know the contents of this without having to read any further)

Apparently Marcus North scored a hundred, and Tim Paine gave him company with a fifty. Apparently Harbhajan Singh took four wickets, young Pragyan Ojha bowled his heart out for three and Virender Sehwag scored a helter-skelter 30 or so. I am taking all of this from the cricinfo bulletin because, though I was there, for the life of me, I can’t remember any of these. It’s almost as if my brain’s overwritten all of this to store, in high definition, high quality memory, Sachin Tendulkar’s 44 not out.

It’s not often that the local boy’s dismissal barely elicits disappointment from the crowd. They know who’s up next. The people in the stands opposite the pavilion see the familiar diminutive figure padded up and move down the stairs. The cheers start from that section. Soon the rest of the crowd knows and the reactions border on the delirious. It maybe one of the last two occasions He is playing in the Chinnaswamy Stadium and the 30000 odd crowd do not want to miss a minute of it. Indeed, today is probably the best day crowd wise, it being Sunday and India’s batting likely to begin.

The disappointment of Sehwag’s premature dismissal and Dravid’s poor stroke are quickly forgotten as He takes strike. As always, He begins slowly, but steadily, taking the measure of the pitch and the bowling before unfurling the best 90 minutes of the match so far.

Sachin’s shots have been described and re-described by writers far better than me and in far more evocative terms than I could hope to match. Indeed the written word can do little to describe what is simply poetry and artistry in motion, nothing more and nothing less.

The effect of seeing His straight drive, or square cut, or on drive, or even just his paddle sweep around the corner is akin to seeing, say, the Himalayas, or the Grand Canyon, or any wonder of the natural world that is such an amazing sight that it literally takes the breath away from you.

And His batting is exactly that. Entirely natural. It is not untrained brutality like Sehwag’s or almost entirely dependent on hand eye coordination like Laxman’s. It is as batting should be. It is as if He was born to bat that way. Knowing where the feet, hands, body weight and head should go seem as natural to Tendulkar as breathing to any other human being. Like his great predecessors in batting greatness, WG Grace, Victor Trumper, Don Bradman, and Sunil Gavaskar, Tendulkar’s batting is the simple employment of the technique of batting to the task of scoring runs.

It’s a ruse of of course. Batting is only natural to Tendulkar because of the hours, days and months he put into practice long after mere mortals felt they had enough. Yet, it seems unacceptable to imagine that Tendulkar’s success and brilliance is entirely the result of coaching and practice and owes no small amount to genius. Here too, Tendulkar has added sheer hard work to his innate cricketing genius and gone beyond what mortals can even dream of.

The television can only give you images of what Tendulkar’s strokes are like. In the stadium they are real. You can almost reach out and touch the moment. It is a near religious experience. With a lot of modern religion being corrupted by the thirst for money and power, Tendulkar’s batting is something pure, divine and spiritual. When that square cut is unfurled or the ball is caressed into the straight boundary, it is the closest non-believers and atheists get to understanding religious ecstasy. Grown men, who spend all day dissecting each batsman’s innings and each bowler’s spells with clinical, and almost professional detachment erupt into oohs and ahs and beam with blissful content at having seen just one of His on-drives.

Tomorrow, it continues. Monday morning, bosses across India can expect to be more than slightly short staffed as a good chunk of their employees are going to be either at the stadium or watching the game on TV. Those who turn up will have cricinfo open in a tab, and pretending to work, just as long as it takes the boss to realize what’s happening in which case they can drop the pretence ’cause the boss is also logging on to cricinfo or constantly dropping by and asking what the score is. Work lost on such days should be treated as being “lost” to another religious holiday (the only real secular religious holiday if you can wrap your head around that concept): Sachin Day.

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A Supreme Court/Delhi High Court lawyer who writes a bit with a potentially fatal weakness for hyperlinks, tags, and the reader's approval. Follow @alokpi

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2 Comments on "Ninety Minutes of Divinity"

  1. Suhrith October 12, 2010 at 7:01 am ·

    I have watched Tendulkar play a fair few times at the M.A. Chidambram Stadium in Chennai, and he has rarely disappointed. I haven’t yet seen Vijay bat in the flesh, and going by what I’ve seen on T.V., I can’t but imagine his batting being quite a pleasure to watch from the stands.

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