Cricket, Worship

We have mentioned cricket on more than one occasion, because of its place of importance in the Indian culture.  If you are not from here, or at least here, in India, it may be difficult to understand this importance. Now is as good a time as any to begin understanding it. Tunku Varadarajan, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, provides some helpful hints and lessons about the sport, and the country, in an OpEd in today’s New York Times about the one man who has been practically deified in recent times:

India, Where the Gods Live On … and On

…Tendulkar, whom everyone calls Sachin, is the most revered cricketer in India…In fact, it would be entirely accurate to describe him as the most revered contemporary Indian, or even, with only a pinch of hyperbole, the most revered Indian since Mahatma Gandhi held the nation in thrall…

…Suspend your disbelief and think of him as a cross between Babe Ruth and Martin Luther King…

…In a land of chronic inefficiency, he was remorselessly efficient; in a land with a global inferiority complex, he was the best in the world; in a land where public figures are strutting peacocks, he was often a picture of painful humility; in a land that thirsts for self-respect, Sachin spelled pride…

…there has been an unlovely whiff of selfishness in his reluctance to give way to younger players, in his limpetlike clinging to his place, and in his relentless pursuit of milestones. But we shouldn’t blame Sachin… In any other land, he would have aged, recognized the limitations brought on by age … and moved on. India has not let him do so. It is India, by its corrosive love, that has betrayed Sachin Tendulkar…

Read the whole op-ed article here.  Meanwhile, over at India Ink:

Punit Paranjpe/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. An artist working on a mural of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar on the wall of a sports club building in Mumbai, Maharashtra, on Nov. 8.

Long before Sachin Tendulkar arrived at the Eden Gardens cricket ground in Kolkata for the penultimate cricket match of his career, a wax statue of the greatest Indian cricketer was placed outside the Indian dressing room. The statue reproduced an image embedded in the psyche of every Indian cricket fan. It was the gesture the 40-year-old Mr. Tendulkar adopted whenever he reached a scoring landmark: cricket bat raised in one hand, helmet in the other.

The statue was an amateurish, even poorly executed, piece of work, but that did not seem to matter. Policemen on duty had pictures of themselves taken beside it. Restless television reporters, unable to get hold of the flesh-and-blood subject, congregated around the statue’s creator, one Susanta Ray from Asansol, a city about four hours from Kolkata. And when Mr. Tendulkar himself posed beside the wax statue on the eve of the game, the normally quiet players’ area became as raucous as any stand at the Eden Gardens has ever been. To the statue’s left was a banner engraved with a line from the former Australian cricketer Matthew Hayden: “I have seen God. He bats for India at No 4.” …

Read the whole article here.  And again, at India Ink:

Babu/Reuters Schoolchildren holding posters of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar at an event to honor him in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, on Thursday.

Schoolchildren holding posters of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar at an event to honor him in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, on Thursday.

NEW DELHI — Even under ordinary circumstances, India’s newspaper writers are not known for bottling up their emotions. But the last cricket outing of Sachin Tendulkar this week prompted a full meltdown of ecstatic prose, as scribes all over the country tried to capture the final bittersweet moments of a career that has provided one of India’s most satisfying plotlines of the last two decades.

Because it is cricket, those moments actually went for hours, bleeding from Thursday afternoon into Friday morning. But India’s sportswriters were up to the challenge, producing thousands of lush, evocative column inches in time for deadline. Here are some samples from the print editions of Indian newspapers on Friday morning…

Read the whole article here…


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