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Raja Sen: Why is Sachin stammering?

Last updated on: August 26, 2011 10:50 IST

Why is Sachin suddenly stammering?

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Raja Sen

The one and only Sachin Tendulkar has been motoring along with phenomenal precision for the last few years, and the mammoth occasion of the ton of tons, the hundredth of hundreds, ought to be a moment of immensely heady celebration, a hitherto unimagined batting record that should galvanise the nation and bathe it in bubbly as we toast and thank our stars, says Raja Sen.

The most mythic of milestones is really turning out to be rather painful, it must be said.

The one and only Sachin Tendulkar's been motoring along with phenomenal precision for the last few years, and the mammoth occasion of the ton of tons, the hundredth of hundreds, ought be a moment of immensely heady celebration, a hitherto unimagined batting record that should galvanise the nation and bathe it in bubbly as we toast and thank our stars. And our Star.

Yet, even with the eager-to-applaud hands earned by this formerly unthinkable statistic now reduced to mere glorious formality, there's a whole lotta wringing going on.

He's been on 99 hundreds for a while now, and while it hasn't been long at all since he whacked a ton, the wait for the landmark seems both interminable and exasperating.

He's in the form of his career and yet, in one of India's lowest moments, he's struggled. We've seen sloppy Sachin, ugly Sachin, hit on the helmet Sachin, cheaply dismissed Sachin, and Sachin unable to rise to the occasion.

We're used to super, not sub-par, and these humiliating Test matches have seen him flounder like a fellow well past his prime.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar

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Tomorrow never comes

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Also, that asinine assertion birthed during the World Cup, that India loses when Sachin bats, is fast becoming an unfortunately popular superstition that will have to be countered empirically with the sort of majestic knock he can roll off any day now.

To paraphrase the appropriately named Vitalstatistix, tomorrow the sky will fall on the opposition's head. But tomorrow never comes.

Why, though? The excuses -- of IPL-fatigue, of lack of preparation, of a tremendously talented bowling attack who swing better than we can see, sympathy for a nation-torn asunder by riots -- work just fine for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the rest of his currently-unmerry men, but not for the almighty Tendulkar.

He's beyond it all, he always has been. And, as said before, this is a phase of his batting life when he can coerce the runs on days he doesn't feel like carving, when he's blindingly fast on his toes, when there is more rhyme than prose.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar

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A crisis of faith?

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My theory is that this is a crisis of faith.

No, I am not for one, second doubting Tendulkar's commitment to the sport or his self-belief; ours not to wonder why, and all that. I just think that at this precise instant in time, we believe in him a little less, pray a tad less blindly, are only half-hearted in our once-unquestioned devotion.

Things will snap back to normal soon enough and we'll forget all about it, but right now marks the only time those of us who breathe sport have been actively annoyed by the man, not the batsman.

We've seen the first chink in his armour, and, without a way to justify this first visible error of judgement, most of his truest believers are crestfallen.

It all happened, of course, when Sachin decided to make like that monk on the cover of the bestseller and sell his Ferrari./P>

And while his choosing to buy a vulgar piece of electronica over a legendary Italian thoroughbred would merely be an example of ghastly taste, here the car he sold was a present from Ferrari.

A present marking Sachin crossing a Bradman record. A present given to him by the greatest driver in the history of the steering-wheel.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar

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A fallen God. For now

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It's not a big blunder, but it rankles nonetheless. Other sportsmen do far worse, from philandering to actual cheating to selling their opinions for money to fixing the outcomes of games, and Sachin's is really no great sin.

The reason it sits uneasily on all of us is because it's the first time we've seen the man do something wrong.

We've laughed off allegations, pooh-poohed rumours, picked fights with friends lacking in worship, but this time we all witnessed Tendulkar slipping up and doing something that, while legally permissible and well within his rights, is just not cricket. Memorability be damned, one does not sell a present.

Like I said, it's a teensy offence, and we'll willingly forget. We're dying to, in fact. We'll look past it and wince when some moron mentions it simply to bait us, but that'll be that.

Gods, as evidenced in any mythology, frequently screwed up and, while our forgiveness might have meant not a jot, earned favor again soon enough. This is but a thoughtless move we wouldn't have noticed coming from anyone except this one man we unfairly look on as flawless.

And yet, there he bats, a fallen God. The day he hits that hundred, we'll rush right back in and leave our slippers at the door, but for now he has to sweat it out without our constantly chanted help.

We did all hold our breath for him last Monday, but we believed a tad less fervently. And it's up to him now to win us back over into that zone of unquestioned awesomeness.

I'd say it'll take him a week or so.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar

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