Sachin: born to bat
It’s quite tough to write an article on Sachin Tendulkar, let alone a book. Over the last 23 years, no other cricketer has been subjected to so much scrutiny, no other cricketer has been studied so closely and written about — mostly in awe of his divine talent and tall achievements.
Yet, Tendulkar still continues to fascinate a writer, as it offers him a challenge to produce something new about him. It’s task akin to writing a completely unknown fact about Taj Mahal.
Over the last two decades, so many stories and anecdotes — real and imaginary — have been written and told about Tendulkar, and we have now come to a stage where every Indian feels that he knows all about the 39-year-old Mumbaikar. It requires a special effort to break through that veil of familiarity the Indian audience dons when it comes to Tendulkar, and Sachin: Born To Bat — The Journey Of Cricket’s Ultimate Centurion, brought out by Khalid Ansari and Clayton Murzello, succeeds in that aspect to a large extent. Ansari and Murzello are quite familiar with the world of authors and readers through the long years they have put in as journalists, and their experience mirrors in this book.
They have taken extreme care to ensure that the work does not belong to the ‘I-know-everything-about-the-book’s-subject’ genre — a drawback of some books on Tendulkar.
So, Ansari and Murzello roped in some of the finest cricket writers in India and abroad to depict their impressions of Tendulkar, developed through close interactions with the master batsman himself. Scan through the author’s list, besides Ansari and Murzello, and you will discover names such as Harsha Bhogle, Mike Coward, Sharda Ugra, Ayaz Memon, Sanjjev Samyal, Ian Chappell and the late Peter Roebuck, unspooling their thoughts about Tendulkar.
These men have watched Tendulkar from close quarters — from Ramakanth Achrekar’s coaching class at the Shivaji Park to the various tours that India has undertaken since 1989, and they have that innate ability to tell a tale without losing its charm one bit. The perceptiveness — stemming from their constant and deep interactions with Tendulkar — only adds to the lustre of their narrative.
In another way, you need writers with sensitivity and insight to tell the Tendulkar story. Often, the staggering numbers that Tendulkar has amassed over two decades in Tests and One-Day matches cloud our vision — 33,959 international runs and 100 international hundreds could paint the picture of a run-making machine, a bionic batsman devoid of a human side. But nothing couldn’t be farther from the truth.
These writers unravel the human side of Tendulkar along with giving their account of some of the finest innings played by the champion batsman during his illustrious career — like his 100 at Perth in 1992 against Australia, twin 100s against the same opposition at Sharjah six years down the line, his first Test 100 at Manchester in 1990 against England to name a few. But mind it, they are not just plain, everyday match reports, but also a peep into the mind of a person who devoted his entire life to cricket, who knows nothing other than cricket.
But the book would have been incomplete without the versions of some people who deeply influenced Tendulkar’s private life. His brother Ajit Tendulkar, a driving force from his childhood, and his wife Anjali, offer some rare views on Tendulkar, the family man, giving the book a wholesomeness. Then there are a couple of short interviews of him that provides the book with a personal touch, offering a view of his personality by the man himself.
By the time you finish reading this book, you would realise that Tendulkar is not just a champion batsman, but also a mortal, just like you and me.
Khalid A-H Ansari, edited by Clayton Mursello Jaico 2012, pp 200, Rs 450