Don't grudge the `don' his due
It is not Sachin Tendulkar's fault that his world
record-equalling 34th Test century came against
lowly Bangladesh. Despite this, many former
cricketers and media-men are throwing disguised
barbs in the form of comments and `expert' pieces,
rather than lauding the `Don' of a new era.
34 - All..........Sachin Tendulkar draws level
with Sunil Gavaskar at Dhaka, December 2004
them came up with an ingenious attack: Granting of
Test status to Bangladesh has resulted in hallowed
Test records coming under threat!
This decidedly below-the-belt slug came a day after
Tendulkar made the ton that brought him abreast of
the record of another legend of Indian batting,
Sunil Gavaskar. The heinous attack ensured that
rather than being hailed during his finest hour,
Tendulkar was actually being belittled by
Of course it is nobody's argument that Bangladesh
are a force in international cricket. But runs
scored against them, or their wickets scalped are
as much a part of cricket records as any. Tendulkar
certainly did not go out seeking a limp attack to
notch his 34th Test ton. Nor are all his 34 tons
against such attacks.
For that matter, not all of Gavaskar's 34 centuries
were top-drawer ones. I distinctly remember his
1983 century against Pakistan in Bangalore. The
Pakistani attack was the worst in living memory:
Tahir Naqqash, Azeem Hafeez, Mohammed Nazir, Iqbal
Qasim and Mudassar Nazar! The Bangalore pitch was
excessively placid and the match was heading for a
certain draw. With Gavaskar a few runs short of his
century, Pakistan skipper Zaheer Abbas took his
team off the field at the completion of the 14th
mandatory over. But Gavaskar would not come off. He
wanted his hundred, even if it meant flogging a
dead attack. It made for a hilarious sight before
umpires Swaroop Kishen and M.V. Gothoskar used all
their powers of persuasion to get the Pakistanis
back on the field for Gavaskar's hundred. All
trooped off the ground shortly after the milestone
Gavaskar knew a Test hundred was something to
cherish and was loathe to let one slip away simply
because the Test was meandering into a dull draw.
It was not his problem that Pakistan came with a
pathetic bowling attack. He was in the business of
scoring runs and willing to take tons off anybody.
One of his best Test hundreds - 122 against
England at Birmingham, 1996
earlier, in 1978-79, the West Indies sent one of
their weakest ever teams -yes, weaker than even the
current one. They had two rookies, Norbert Philip
and Sylvester Clarke as fast bowlers, an ageing
Vanburn Holder as support and a teenaged greenhorn
Malcolm Marshall in tow to learn the trade.
Gavaskar accumulated four centuries against this
attack (205, 107, 182 n.o., 120). He added two more
against the other Kerry Packer-ravaged team, Kim
Hughes' Australians (115, 123) that season.
Earlier, the Australians, without their Packer
stars fielded a poor eleven captained by an ageing
Bobby Simpson who was brought out of retirement
after all the main players, barring Jeff Thomson,
ditched the national team to turn out for Packer.
Gavaskar lapped up three more centuries in the
Tests Down Under against that near-lame duck attack
to leave everybody in no doubt that he would grab
every opportunity to notch up tons.
Of course Gavaskar also made centuries in the most
trying circumstances against the best of world
attacks. The unbeaten 127 against Pakistan-led
Imran Khan in Faisalabad was outstanding. As were
his tons against the four-pronged West Indies pace
Gavaskar's finest riposte was at The Oval in 1979
after Fred Trueman, the former England paceman had
described the Indian cricket team as a ``rag tag
bobtail outfit masquerading as a Test team.'' The
right-handed opener slammed an epic double hundred
that brought India within a couple of strokes of
one of the greatest Test wins in the history of the
game. Gavaskar's batsmanship shut Trueman up once
and for all.
By the time Gavaskar laid down his combative willow
that had taken tons off the best and worst attacks
in the game, he was hailed as one of cricket's
His fellow Mumbaikar Tendulkar, even if he is three
to four years from retirement, is already ranked
among the legends of the game. Thus the attempts of
former players and critics to belittle his record-equalling
century do not do justice to the many amazing
innings he has played in these last 15 years. Who
can ever forget those blazing knocks that made
mincemeat of Shane Warne in India and Sharjah? Or
the blistering centuries in South Africa and
Australia in the 1990s?
Of course Tendulkar has made a few soft centuries.
But then which of the world's great batsmen has not
helped themselves to such tons? Viv Richards,
Gavaskar, Greg Chappell, Brian Lara, or even the
Don himself, have all benefited from occasional
weak attacks. So why grudge Tendulkar his `easy'
tons. Millions of cricket fans know that he has
carried Indian batting on his shoulders for over a
decade. Instead of taking potshots at this great
sportsman and entertainer, let us all bask in his
record-breaking efforts and soak in the hours of
pleasure that his exploits has brought us. After
all, no batsman in the history of the game has made
as emphatic an impression in both forms of the game
as Sachin Tendulkar. Way to go Sachin!