Sachin Tendulkar interacting with the media © Getty Images
Sachin Tendulkar interacting with the media © Getty Images

 

By Tim Holt

 

No one has come close to polarising public opinion over the past two decades like Sachin Tendulkar, who has a legion of devout and passionate followers and some neutral admirers and irrational haters. In financial sense, he is the epitome of perfection for all three categories, a literal embodiment of what we term God-sent.

 

What it means is that if you want to market or sell something, tag Sachin Tendulkar’s name to rake in the big money. It’s the first thing I learnt as a blogger – write something about Tendulkar and you will have an assured readership.

 

If it’s testimony to Tendulkar’s greatness that you will attract his fanbois lauding you, the neutrals agreeing with you and the haters spitting venom on you. I can vouch for this as I get abusive mails from Tendulkar fans for committing the ‘sacrilege’ that maybe its time for the maestro to retire. The critiques, too, are passionate in their observations.

 

Away from the little fishbowl that is my blog, the same logic has been used by the marketers behind Shoaib Ahktar‘s Autobiography ‘Controversially Yours’.

 

That done, when the launch of the book was pitchforked in the limelight all hell expectedly broke loose when it was known that Shoaib Ahktar claimed that Tendulkar was scared when facing him. Shahid Afridi added fuel to the raging fire when he backed Shoaib’s insinuation by saying, “He (Tendulkar) was scared of Shoaib. I have seen it myself. I was fielding at square leg and saw his legs trembling when Shoaib came on to bowl.”

 

The resultant war, especially between Tendulkar fans on one side and Shoaib and Afiridi on the other side, is still raging. In the process it has given hundreds of hours of free television time, reams of print media coverage and extensive debates on social media – all  doing wonders for the marketing of Shoaib’s autobiography. Shoaib must be quietly thanking his haters – the Tendulkar fans!

 

The overwhelming negative response is also because Shoiab and Afridi have all the credibility of politicians at election time going around kissing babies.

 

To label a batsmen with the respect and standing of Tendulkar of being scared is  laughable – a legend, who as a 16-year old, showed exemplary courage to battle on and score a half century after having his face bloodied by the blinding pace of Waqar Younis.

 

Maybe when Tendulkar clears the tears from his eyes from laughing hard at the ridiculous claims, he should approach the publishers of Shoaib’s book and ask for a percentage of the royalty for his huge contribution in its sales!

 

(Tim Holt was born in Northern Ireland in 1952. He found his love for cricket when he was sent to South Africa between 1964 and 1966. He is an unashamed cricket purist who feasts on Test cricket. His passion for the game cuts across geographical boundaries and into the domestic competitions. Tim, who has a background in journalism and teaching, has lived and worked in many places across the world)