Sachin Tendulkar may have missed his 100th ton again but what really is a number to a man who has already achieved the pinnacle of sporting success? A euphoric celebration yes; a feat it isn't. Sachin and others at the helm of cricket have their real achievement in having us (wanting to) write and read on them, men who battled for their teams.
Sachin missed his much awaited 100th international ton at Wankhede on Friday, Ravi Rampaul the 'villain.' What was outstanding, to he who may have watched Day 4 proceedings more closely was the determination of West Indies bowlers to halt him and the focus with which a man, 38 years of age, stoically stood his ground until the 87th over of the Test. That a 27-year-old seamer threw a challenge and his more experienced opponent thought him worthy enough to be attacked was a celebration as well.
In all the statistics thrown at our face, the fanatic frenzy overwhelming us and the search for little joys that sports peppers our life with, cricket continues to be a beautiful example of what human endeavor in large measure and competition in small doses can make legends do. What, also, determination can conquer whichever team may be spoken of.
Recently, there was talk of Sachin deserving a Bharat Ratna. In absolute reality though, Sachin never really needed the 100th ton, doesn't really deserve the Bharat Ratna. The man who has been the face of India in a team sport for over two decades now, has already gained what comes with sporting excellence - respect, love, accolades, awards. And then again, so much more - a nation in awe and a billion in prayer each time he grips his bat.
On this day, and the days to come, much will be spoken about him; much more written. None, possibly, can be a realistic check on what his 100th ton (or missing out again) really means for him and his fans - us, which is nothing at all. He was a legend before he came out to bat on Friday, and he continues to be at the end of it. Sometimes, rarely, records are unable to further polish the gleam of excellence. Sachin is that rarity.