Saturday, November 16

That Perfect Straight Drive!

You know there are moments when the finality of something doesn't really hit you, like your little brain doesn't comprehend the possibility that whatever you are watching is actually happening. You keep on thinking like its some minor glitch and everything's gonna be fine in some time. 

I saw his first poster when I was a kid, probably six years of age, I was in a small village in Rajasthan, my mother's family resided there, and we were having an ice-cream (kulfi) at this local shop. There it was hanging on the wall, a singular poster of a guy hitting a perfect straight drive. The wall was otherwise empty. The scene was a little odd to me and I asked my cousin who this guy was. I was told the name of this guy casually in a matter-of-fact tone, the name which I could read myself from that poster. I asked again who he really was, and he threw me a puzzled look saying, 'you call yourself a cricket fan, and you don't know him?'

Sachin Tendulkar. Where I learnt about cricket, this name was synonymous to cricket. I began watching because of him, like many others I know.  

tendulkar perfect straight drive

I like to go back to that large wall and that single poster in a muddy home in some distant part of Rajasthan from time to time, and I wonder in amazement at the aura this man possessed then as well. There are people who get glory, for a year or two, and then there are people who continue to remain favorites for years and years. How do you begin to understand that? That stuff is not luck.   

You hear people saying, 'when he got out, people shut their TVs', I just want to affirm that. I remember the 2003 World Cup final and how I switched off my TV right when he got out in the first over by McGrath. Weeks after the World Cup, we kept discussing the possibility of a re-match. Someone in our group had said that when Ponting hit a six, his bat fell off from his hands and it bounced back, he had some sort of spring in his bat. I was a kid, and I had believed there'd be a re-match. There never was. 

You know, I was known as one ardent cricket fan and I have never imagined cricket without Sachin, nor have I seen for that matter. Its more difficult for people like me to comprehend this finality of his decision. 

You know, I have always missed his best innings, like when he scored 200, I was in a train. There was this one test match we were watching in our home, I was around 12, I guess. He got out the moment I went into the toilet. From that day, it got instilled in my head that if I do anything silly, he might get out and I tried to maintain my distance from the TV, whenever he batted.  

I am a different kind of cricket follower though, I don't watch every game, I don't follow every news piece. I am not even worried about this you know, the one who has heard Beethoven live wouldn't really get tensed if he missed some other musician. 

I don't know why I am saying all this, I have always maintained among my peers that cricket is a shit game and I don't follow it as much. And it had worked so well till now. If only I could maintain it a little longer, the TV had been switched off and would remain so. If only I could hold my rambling...

Maybe, it's because it's final and the realization is coming over me, and I am silently understanding he's going, never to return to that field to represent a team of billion, to hit that perfect straight drive.  

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