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burn baby burn…

March 25, 2007

It’s only fair. I think its fitting that the cover page of the Hindustan Times and the Times of India showed angry fans burning/blackening posters of Sachin Tendulkar. It’s perfectly understandable that similar such fans grouped together and went to the Tendulkar residence and turned off the electricity mains to his apartment after he got out for nought in the crunch game against Sri Lanka. Thanks to every news channel for showing scrolling sms’s and emails from angry fans about how a bunch of “overpaid individuals interested only in making money” have let the nation down.

Serves the whole bunch of ’em right, especially Sachin Tendulkar. He should’ve known. He should’ve known when he first appeared on the test team as a 17 year old. He certainly should’ve have had an inkling when he stroked a hundred at Perth or when he set about redefining the term ‘opening batsman’ in one-day international cricket by going after the new ball in New Zealand. Over the years, he stubbornly refused to learn from the zillions of opportunities. Each time he set about dominating attacks or playing rear-guard on foreign pitches. Each time he raised his bat for having completed triple figures. Each time that opposition captains and their bowlers huddled together to work out ways to dismiss him and celebrated like the match was won when his was the first and only wicket to have fallen. He cannot feign ignorance when that ‘hard-as-steel’ veteran Steve Waugh said in his post-match interview that “We were beaten by a better player” (and not team). Not only that, he even had the audacity to exhibit his love for the game, I mean, how dumb do you have to be to celebrate a direct-hit runout as wildly as you celebrate a ton? oh, and especially when the throw wasn’t even yours?! Ridiculous!

Just because he was born with a rare combination of talent and temperament that will most likely never be seen again for several generations, he can’t just ignore the fact that his performances are the closest that, millions of people come, to a sense of achievement. He might claim in his defence that he is only a sportsman and only went out to give his best and that the rest  was never under his control, but that would be indeed weak. That it was unfair for spectators (and of that category, we have hordes) to shirk the responsibility of their own ambitions and need for fulfillment, and to tack it to the blade with MRF printed on it. He might plead that rarely have sportsmen maintained superlatives levels of performance for the duration of time that he has. What of his debt to the millions of this nation who, bereft of ability or temperament, will never amount to anything in the duration of their existence? He owes those teeming masses who will live their lives in utter mediocrity never having the opportunity to taste success for themselves. He owes them big.

As for the other 14, several of whom might’ve first picked up a bat because of the person discussed above, who are currently wondering about the physical safety of themselves and their families. For Rahul, Zaheer, Ajit, Sehwag and co. The teeming blue billion have extracted the ultimate pound of flesh. Never again will they enjoy a game of cricket like they must’ve when they first picked up a bat or a ball. For they will now, more than ever, realise that this country does not understand the concept of competition or sportsmanship.

Sachin Tendulkar and the rest should be ashamed to be Indian. I know I am.

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