Home > Features >

Sachin Tendulkar changed the fortunes of cricket journalists in India

A generation of journalists survived and thrived on brand 'Sachin Tendulkar' © Getty Images
A generation of journalists survived and thrived on brand Sachin Tendulkar © Getty Images

We often talk of the millions Sachin Tendulkar made for himself. We even talk about the money he made for the brands he endorsed and the money he raked in for the boards with his magnetic appeal. Yet, one has never heard or read of how he changed the personal fortunes of the cricket journalists in the country. H Natarajan writes how Tendulkar’s rising stature indirectly benefited Indian journalists.

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls - Aesop.

One of the most enduring images on a cricket field is when a teary Sachin Tendulkar made what was seemingly the longest trek of his life. Having expressed his gratitude — prepared with the same meticulous perfection that he brought to his craft — and moving a nation to tears, the maestro moved towards the 22-yard rectangle. And then he did what only a noble soul would have done: he bent and touched the terra firma and then his heart. It was a gesture that broke even granite-strong men. This was where it all began, and this is where it ended. And in between those surreal years, that marvellous piece of real estate at the Wankhede Stadium turned a precocious schoolboy into ‘God’. But for that little genius, that little brown strip was a “temple” to which he was now paying obeisance with undiluted purity the likes of which one has never seen any retiring cricketer do.

Every move of the man on that day was observed with unblinking vigil by the print, visual and digital media, as they have done since 1989 — a watershed year not just for Tendulkar and Indian cricket but also for the thousands of cricket journalists whose life was to change in spectacular fashion. Journalists who never got into a flight, journalists who never stepped outside their city to cover events, were now going places — literally and figuratively. Australia, England, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, the Caribbean Islands… their passports showed stamps of many, many countries that most of their friends in schools and colleges could only dream of. One man contributed largely to their change of fortunes: Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. As the cricketing blue chip helped India’s cricketing stocks soar, he brought about a change in the thinking of tight-fisted media organisations, who now found value in sending reporters and photographers to travel with the Indian cricket team.

One only has to think of Viswanathan Anand and Leander Paes, who were about the same age as Tendulkar and whose exploits in their respective sports are as iconic as Tendulkar’s in cricket, to appreciate the cricketing legend’s contribution to the growth of cricket journalism and journalists in India. Till date, only a handful of media houses in India send their reporters to cover an overseas World Chess Championship starring Anand or Wimbledon/Davis Cup featuring Paes. On the other hand, the size of an Indian media contingent is arguably more than the media from the rest of the world like World Cups. This has, unquestionably, been because of Tendulkar’s incandescent aura.

Cricket journalists got new-found respect simply because they got to cover Tests and One-Day Internationals and watch Tendulkar bat. The journalists who knew the icon became ‘heroes’ themselves, simply because they knew the master.  Journalists basked in reflected glory, sharing anecdotes of their tryst with the master to an omnipresent audience listening to them with dropped jaws.

As Tendulkar grew in stature, he had a price to pay — loss of privacy. He could escape the fan by cocooning himself in the sanctuary of his hotel room while on tours. The instructions to telephone operator was clear: no calls to be put through to his room. There was also a second line of defence in the form of DND (Do Not Disturb) outside his hotel room door. But that did not stop pesky journalists wanting more to save themselves the wrath of demanding bosses. They knocked the doors of the man, who was always considerate — despite the barging. And despite his accommodative nature when he got bad press, his retort was: “The Press too can have bad days.” This man was Buddha in flannels!

As the world went increasingly digital, the Tendulkar magic became quantifiable. Thanks to Google Analytics and other measuring tools, one can emphatically say how magical the words “Sachin Tendulkar” are when it comes to page views, page ranking, time spent on an article, bounce rate… Even five months after his emotional farewell to the game, his name directly and indirectly help many people to keep their jobs going and bring food on the table for their loved ones.  And that includes journalists.

Tendulkar had never asked me a favour and I never gave him one.  I, like many of my tribe, was doing my job as a professional writer, while Tendulkar did his job as a professional cricketer. Yet, in the symbiotic relationship, we cricket journalists — especially from India — benefitted in more ways than one. His virtuoso brilliance drove us into writing paeans with the kind of creativity that we could write about very few. The stature he gave to the game of cricket also gave us journos name, fame and money.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it,” wrote William Arthur Ward. I know what I have to do when I meet Tendulkar next!

Read more here: Happy Birthday, Sachin Tendulkar!

(H Natarajanformerly 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)

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Centurion

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 19, 2014 (16:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Port Elizabeth

Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (03:30 IST)   at Christchurch

More

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 17, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 7 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 16, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 87 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 14, 2014  at Sharjah

Pakistan won by 147 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 13, 2014  at Pallekele

Sri Lanka won by 90 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 12, 2014  at Sharjah

New Zealand won by 4 wkts

Photos

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane

Videos

Josh Hazlewood looks back at his 5-wicket haul

India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 3: Mitchell Johnson, Steven Smith pummel India

India vs Australia 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 2: India’s familiar collapse, Umesh Yadav’s heroics and other highlights

South Africa vs West Indies,1st Test, Day 2 at Centurion: South Africa declare at 552 for 5

Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane guide India to 311/4 against Australia on Day 1 of 1st Test at Brisbane

Australia India Ishant Sharma Moments in history Ravichandran Ashwin South Africa Virender Sehwag Yuvraj Singh

Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson smash India to take Australia to 351/6 at lunch

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 3: Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson put on 100-run partnership

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 3: Steven Smith scores 6th ton

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 3: Mitchell Johnson hits 37-ball 50

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 3: Brad Haddin dismissed

World Cup 1987: Viv Richards decimates Sri Lanka at Karachi

India vs Australia 2nd Test at Brisbane: Steven Smith holds key for Australia

Josh Hazlewood’s relentless accuracy and subtle movement against India in 2nd Test at Brisbane augurs well for Australia

South Africa vs West Indies 2014, 1st Test at Centurion: Hashim Amla’s double-century and other statistics

India vs Australia 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 2: India’s familiar collapse, Umesh Yadav’s heroics and other highlights

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

653 Posts | 10 Fans

India vs Australia: Murali Vijay's 144, Video highlights

प्रसिद्ध कथक नृत्यांगना सितारा देवी नहीं रही

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Bigg Boss 8: Ali Quli Mirza, Renee Dhyani, Upen Patel, Praneet Bhatt, Sonali Raut – who should be evicted this week?

Revealed: The reason why Kishore Kumar’s biopic starring Ranbir Kapoor won’t feature Katrina Kaif!

अभिनेत्री प्रियंका चोपड़ा ने स्वच्छ भारत अभियान में हिस्सा लिया

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here