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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cricket icon Sachin, an example of a good person for generations to come.

New Delhi, May 1 (ANI): Sachin Tendulkar is a name most of India is familiar with. So much has been written about him and his many achievements on the cricket field over the past two decades and more, that at times you wonder is there anything more that can be written or spoken about him.

Tendulkar has been a subject of various books since he was first noticed for his special abilities with the cricket bat as a 14-year-old schoolboy prodigy along with one time close friend Vinod Kambli.

There have been coffee table books, write-ups by lovers of the game, statistical delights and much more. So, when I was given the book titled "Sach" authored by Gautam Bhattacharya to review a couple of weeks ago, my first reaction was what would the book contain that one does not already know about this sporting icon. Having been a school and college cricketer myself, discussing and dealing with statistics and nuances was an obsession, and therefore, it would have been daft on my part not be aware of Tendulkar's exploits.

So, coming to the all important question - Why another publication on Tendulkar? What would be different?

Once I began sifting through the pages, the answers to the questions above came out.

Twelve chapters-the length of the book - brought out revelations that one was not aware of.

The book most definitely is not a biography, but a tome of fascinating dedication to arguably the best cricketer in the modern world.

For starters, surprisingly Bhattacharya does not indulge in the usual dedication that most authors are known to do. Even better, the responsibility of penning the foreword is given to current Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

It is a foreword that speaks volumes about Sachin the person, the player, the grandpa of Indian cricket in a manner of speaking and the idol and savior of lost causes. It turns out to be rather mushy when Dhoni speaks about his first meeting with Sachin and how there is no doubt in anyone's mind that he is the "God of Cricket". It is a foreword that is both heartfelt and genuine, and sets the tone for the rest of the book.

As a reader or reviewer, you are exposed to a totally different aspect. The book is reactive in the sense that it is a cross-section of society waxing eloquent in opinion, or waiting for their opportunity to speak of their admiration of and for Tendulkar.

Bhattacharya does well to capture these moments through quotes and short interviews.

Furthermore, you get read what Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Sunil Gavaskar have to say about Tendulkar, the person and the player. Veteran actors Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar, besides playback singer Asha Bhosle praise Sachin for reasons other than his amazing cricketing ability.

It is a book that follows Tendulkar's personal journey, his ups and downs, highs and lows, his career, and the controversies that have surfaced over 22 years, most notably the Greg Chappell episode (2005-07). It was indeed a dark time in Sachin's career, with injuries and average going down. Both Tendulkar and Chappell give poised and honest answers to that unpleasant period in their sporting lives. Chappell is quite candid in revealing that he would have done things differently if given another opportunity.

In the 60 odd quotes that are included in the book - pages 58 to 71 - the ones that stand out are that ex-England fast bowler Harold Larwood, when he says:

'Please tell him (Sachin) not to wear that helmet. Don (Bradman) never wore one'.

There is another brilliant one from ex-Australian leg-spinner Bill 'Tiger' O'Reilly: 'You are my grandson's age. Let me tell you, please don't play ladies cricket (one-day internationals). You are in the same orbit with Don (Bradman). He never played the pyjama stuff.' This to a man who has scored 48 ODI hundreds till date.

Ex-West Indian captain Vivian Richards says: 'he may not chew gum, but he has composure and reflects an attitude that exudes the intent he comes with - the intent to dominate."

It is a book that throws light on Sachin's psyche, an insight, backed by pictures and quotes from the best in different fields. For example, Dr. Devi Shetty of Bangalore-based Narayana Hrudayalaya. A philanthropist and a cardiac surgeon of global repute, Shetty says: "His (Sachin's) importance is in the realization that an honest and gentle person can attain the pinnacle of glory in the most competitive field (cricket).

He further adds: "He should not just be an icon of success, but an example of a good person for generations to come."

Another aspect that shines is Sachin's super human level of intensity and preparation, and his zero tolerance compromise on principles. There are no short cuts for him - everything with a straight bat.

As recent Indian cricket team coach Gary Kirsten said: "He (Sachin) wants to be made comfortable. If you are willing and can create that happiness around him, and an enjoyment factor, he performs at his optimum."

His deep love for cricket equipment, his impeccable manners on and off the field, the two guiding 'A's' in his life - brother Ajit and wife Anjali, friendships that were meant to last a lifetime turning distant not because of him, but them i.e. Kambli and Sanjay Manjrekar.

A chapter in the book also dwells on his technical brilliance and brutal self analysis - never taking his acquired fame for granted. Pages 158 and 159 of the book throw poignant light on the passing of the baton from the older generation (Sunil Gavaskar) to the new (Sachin Tendulkar). It was a very private moment - handing over micro-light pads - there was no TV, no media - something unheard of these days.

There is so much in the book that a reviewer can pen down, but the author's interesting comment sums it up. Bhattacharya says: "Champions do not follow the beaten road. They are born winners. Things like circumstances and facilities are totally irrelevant in their scheme of things. They win because they are born to win - Period." By Ashok Dixit(ANI)

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