Cricketers are routinely sucked into activities away from the game, mostly in the commercial ecosystem that surrounds professional sport. Cricketers, like successful film stars, have enormous commercial appeal; Sachin and Dhoni are in demand for endorsing products, selling soap and scooters, mobiles and motorcars, colas and cars.
Cricket is a battle of bat against ball, one bat versus one ball. But the way the one day contest unfolded it become a bat against bat contest. The bowlers are peripheral, incidental, almost irrelevant, their role merely to turn up to get slaughtered.
Sachin, born with exceptional gifts, became an exceptional player and a cricketing legend. He was also blessed with other non-cricket skills that made him special, a one off.
Successive coaches/ physios/ trainers learnt to let him be, not interfere, because Sachin's preparation was meticulous, his routine settled.
Sachin Tendulkar's astonishing achievements dispelled notions that Indians were second best. Here was a tiger who dominated a global sport, reached a level which others did not think existed, set benchmarks for colleagues and competitors to match.
Sachin Tendulkar's countless fans have given him a warm, emotional send off, bidding him goodbye, privileged to have a final opportunity to see the genius play. Through his 25 year career, Sachin has gained the respect and admiration of millions.
Yet, for all these outward trappings of celebrity, there is a remarkable sense of dignity and composure about Sachin. He went about his business like anyone else, doing this and that, texting on the phone, answering calls, organising his gear for the match.
The sluggish start, with half empty stadiums at some venues, is a bit surprising considering some action has been spectacularly riveting. The IPL has had a super over and a last ball finish, and other games that suddenly turned on their heads.
Like film stars, cricketers must reinvent themselves to take on new roles and remain in the frame. This need becomes more compelling post retirement, once the glare of fame and publicity has dimmed. Top cricketers inspire and motivate millions but celebrity status comes with an expiry date and for renewal, as they say, conditions apply.
While all, players and pundits alike, applaud the Indian team, there are some like Sourav Ganguly who, though thrilled by the results, feel the Indian team must start winning abroad. That is the true test of strength, that is one mountain still to be climbed.
Cricket administrator, Team India manager, Columnist and now Advisor to GMR Sports (Owners of Delhi Daredevils), Mr Amrit Mathur has donned various hats effortlessly.
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