Sachin Tendulkar (left) may be an idol in India, but that doesn’t mean the Russian-American Maria Sharapova has to know about him © Getty Images
H Natarajan finds the angst of the Indian cricket fans at Maria Sharapova not knowing Sachin Tendulkar quite ridiculous.
Twitterverse, rather a section of the Indians cricket fans on Twitterverse, went wild when they heard that Maria Sharapova did not know who Sachin Tendulkar was when asked about the cricketer at a post-match press conference. The statuesque tennis queen was born in Russia and has made United States of America her home since age seven. Now both Russia and United States are not known for their cricket. So what’s the big deal about Sharapova not having heard about Tendulkar?
To Tendulkar devotees it was nothing less than blasphemy! Some dubbed her an “atheist”, someone called her the Alia Bhatt of tennis. How many of our cricketers would be conversant with the top guns of luge or bobsleigh. Or, for that matter, even the big names in ice hockey and baseball. Such senseless reactions don’t paint a pretty picture of India in the eyes of the world.
Any Indian cricket fan with a passing interest in the game would have known that Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy had held the Test opening wicket partnership of 413 runs for well over half a decade. Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid came within a boundary hit of breaking that monumental record in 2006 at Lahore. But at the end of their monumental partnership, a perplexed Sehwag asked Raj Singh Dungarpur: “Who is Vinoo Mankad!” Now THAT is blasphemy. Because Sehwag was playing First-Class cricket for almost close to a decade and he had not heard of one of the greatest all-rounders in the history of cricket! So if an Indian cricketer had no clue about an Indian cricketing legend, why this hullaballoo about a Russian-American not having heard about a cricketer?
About two years ago, the Dalai Lama was invited for an Indian Premier League match between Kings XI Punjab and Deccan Chargers at the HPCA Stadium. During the match, the Tibetan spiritual leader was asked, “Do you know a certain Sachin Tendulkar“? After a slight pause he replied, “No, I don’t remember!”
We Indians need to get realistic. Just because Tendulkar is put on a pedestal by Indian cricket fans and enjoys fanatical reverence does not mean he enjoys the same following elsewhere. We just need to take a chill pill instead of going nuts about anything related to Tendulkar.
For those who feel offended by Sharapova not knowing Indian cricket’s Bharat Ratna, what if you were asked, “Have you heard of Bhagwan Das, Purushottam Das Tandon, Pandurang Vaman Kane, Aruna Asaf Ali and Gopinath Bordoloi? What is common to them?” The chances are most people will struggle to get the answer without Google’s help. But to appreciate the point I’m making, check the first para of this piece.
Instead of spilling their emotions and venom all over social media, these unreasonable fans could well learn a thing or two from Tendulkar about public decorum, even in the face of gravest provocations.
(H Natarajan, formerly All India Deputy Sports Editor of the Indian Express and Senior Editor with Cricinfo/Wisden, is the Executive Editor of CricketCountry.com. A prolific writer, he has written for many of the biggest newspapers, magazines and websites all over the world. A great believer in the power of social media, he can be followed on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/H.Natarajan and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/hnatarajan)