By Sidhanta Patnaik
It is not rocket science to see through the hype and expectations circling that still elusive 100th international century of Sachin Tendulkar. It is a safe bet to assume that if he would have been a citizen of another cricketing nation then this milestone would have come earlier than this eight months hiatus. While it is pleasing to read that the man himself is not bothered by the landmark, but for any rationalist to believe those words at face value will require some serious convincing. And moreover, throughout his 22 years career, he has never let his mind out in the press because had he done so then whatever privacy that he still enjoys would have become a public property long ago.
The castles that have been build around just a number and the acknowledgements that are flowing in relating the significance of Tendulkar’s individual’s achievement in public life showcases to the world how characteristically jobless we are and is a direct insult to the person who has been the singular source of maximum joy in the last two decades. In the name of love and affection yet again we have committed the unpardonable crime of spoiling pure art with a commercial tag.
This theory of terming Tendulkar as the God is in itself fundamentally flawed and the hard reality is that whenever and wherever this 100th century comes it will not mean anything to our lives like the other 99 that have come and gone by. To piggy-back on someone else’s success and hog the limelight is an extension of our culture that runs deep into the mythological period when India was Bharat. We carry the gene of indulging in this childish and meaningless act to while away our leisure time. Unconsciously, it has become the single biggest way to direct attention towards us and satiate our insecurity. It has perennially hampered the productivity and indicated the worthiness of the citizens of the world’s largest democracy. Since March 12, 2011, when he scored the last of his 99 centuries, till today the amount of user content that has been generated on this issue makes for a good case study and will allow us to find out a thing or two about why India as a sporting nation is more passive than active.
The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) and the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) have made fools of themselves by publicising their intention of showering Tendulkar with 100 gold coins if he reached the magic figure at their ground. As if one of the world’s richest sportsperson was waiting for this announcement to come through. If gold coins would have been all that he was playing for then at the age of 38 years he would have been holidaying in some corner of the world instead of burdening his shoulders with all this needless weight. The MCA happens to be his home association and it is a disservice on their part to not have maintained the dignity and allowing themselves to get obsessed with just one more milestone of the rich career of their poster boy like the rest of the nation. By jumping the gun, both the associations have failed to stand up as the game’s paramount guardians in the country.
Let us get this right once and for all. A highly self-motivated cricketer who knows a thing or more about batting than the entire planet put together does not need to be told what he has to play for or what he has to do. If we can allow the decorum to be restored that allows him to do what he is best doing at and us to enjoy his craft then that would be our biggest contribution in his bid to be the first cricketer to score 100 international hundreds.
But to change the way a nation operates is not an overnight task. Soon the 100 will come and then the gluttonous creatures will be put to sleep for some time before they pop up their heads once again with another number in mind because if 99 centuries and a double century in One-Day Internationals have not quenched their greed, then probably nothing ever will.
(Sidhanta Patnaik is a sports marketing professional, public speaker and a part time writer. His twitter id is @sidhpat)