Forget the fans, Sachin
Tendulkar seems burdened by the expectations surrounding his latest milestone
November 20, 2011
It used to be a pleasure to watch Sachin Tendulkar
bat; the shots that flowed as he took the attack to the bowlers, constantly challenging them to maintain line and length under fire. At the moment it's painful to see him prod and poke as he seeks to eke out his 100th century.
Whereas he took the attack to a top-class legspinner, Shane Warne, and won the battle of Chennai
in 1998, he fiddled with a trundler like Marlon Samuels and the steady Devendra Bishoo at Eden Gardens
, while Rahul Dravid comparatively burned along at the other end.
In his prime those two West Indies spinners wouldn't have been able to contain Tendulkar. He wouldn't have allowed either a minute's peace with his quick footwork, and more importantly, his attitude that said no bowler would shackle him.
It wasn't just Warne; he challenged all the best bowlers. He especially enjoyed antagonising the metronomic magician Glenn McGrath. On occasions he deliberately provoked him into bowling aggressively, a frame of mind from which McGrath derived the least success. So why is Tendulkar suddenly allowing a trundler to tie him down?
It was quite revealing to read the other day that Tendulkar felt he couldn't forego a practice session to rest because the adoring Indian public would blame any failure on indifference. He has always appealed as an attention-to-detail person when it came to batting, but I could never understand his desire to hit so many meaningless balls in the nets. Most of the class players I've seen practised diligently but never excessively.
This was always a major point of difference between the two top batsmen of their time - Brian Lara and Tendulkar. Lara cared about his batting and thought very deeply about the process of making big scores quickly but he wasn't obsessed with practising his skills. He was able to enjoy his life away from the field, whereas Tendulkar, again, probably not wanting to give a demanding public a reason to criticise him for letting them down, has lived the life of a monk.