THE Perfect Day !

Peter Roebuck’s account of this battle —–

THIS was a day to remember, a day upon which Brett Lee made a startling first appearance for his country and Sachin Tendulkar stood alone at the crease defying formidable odds, and with courage and skill keeping his wicket intact.

It was a glorious confrontation between old and new, mighty and promising, an expression of the great gifts of the game, the brilliance of batsmanship, the excitement of pace and the powers needed to reach the gods. Meanwhile, a superb leg-spinner bowled with artistry and cunning as he pursued his own landmark. It wasn’t a day to stay in bed. There haven’t been many better.

Lee was a revelation. Thrown the ball as samosa-time approached and showing not the slightest inhibition, Lee began by bursting through Sadagopan Ramesh’s loosely constructed defence with his fourth ball, whereupon the orange-topped paceman celebrated with undisguised joy. Probably he did not know that the previous Australian to strike with his fourth delivery was Fred Freer, later to make his name as a footballer with Carlton.

Recalled for a second spring-heeled spell from the pavilion end as the wind shifted around, Lee struck again as India’s first drop fiddled at a ball too fast to permit an opportunity to think again. It was a fine start by a young man prepared to be himself in this most intimidating arena. Already Lee had shown his spirit by losing his wicket as fast bowlers ought, swiping at something subtle and lifting it into the clouds. Immediately the crowd took him to its heart.

Soon Lee was rested. Throughout he resembled a colt running a few furlongs for the fun of it. Recalled to the crease in the gloaming, Lee responded with the fiercest spell of the match, an explosion of athleticism and endeavour that destroyed the Indian innings. First he broke through Mannava Prasad’s push with a fast inswinger that did not bother with such minor matters as bouncing and instead went straight to the stumps like some guided missile.

Seeing the wicket broken, the crowd roared. Lee is the sort of bowler popular in the public seats. He excites people with the incisiveness of his approach, with a vitality inevitably missing from more seasoned practitioners who’ve seen a thing or two and nowadays rely upon attrition and craft. Lee is not an innocent he comes from Wollongong way but he has the enthusiasm of youth. Also, his style is simple. He’s been blessed with pace, a most precious gift and not to be wasted upon timid souls.

Lee struck again a couple of paragraphs later, removing Ajit Agarkar with another searing inswinger that crashed through the batsman’s defence in a manner that brooked no argument. Nor was that all.

Lee was smoking and promptly greeted Javagal Srinath with a flyer that the lugubrious paceman could not subdue. Immediately Anil Kumble was struck on the helmet by another lifting delivery from a man whose run-up was long and smooth and whose action seems natural and not affected by any kink.

As it turned out, Kumble had no intention of surrendering his wicket lightly.

sachin 116

Meanwhile, Tendulkar stood firm like St Paul’s Cathedral in the blitz. Any fool can score runs against tame bowling. Anyone can impress in easy circumstances. Like a true champion, Tendulkar rises in the tightest corners. He, too, had to keep an eye on Lee’s yorkers and took evasive action as the speedster flung down a bumper. It was a tremendous struggle between them, as the master craftsman fought tooth and nail while the gregarious youngster streamed in.

Tendulkar alone could resist the force of this fierce assault. He seemed to be playing in a different match from anyone else except Sourav Ganguly. Unaffected by the wickets tumbling around him, and realising the need to push the score along, Tendulkar moved from caution to aggression as he launched a breathtaking attack upon the bowling. Eight long years ago he appeared in this land as a teenager with superb skills and enough spirit to fuel an entire team. Now he has reappeared as a man bearing responsibility and carrying it lightly, for he does not allow any situation to be his master. When Tendulkar reached his hundred the entire crowd rose in acclamation. His dismissal brought the crowd to its feet a second time.

It had been the perfect day. The visiting champion had scored a century, and a new fast bowler had arrived upon the scene.

This article was first published by Fairfax Media on December 28, 1999
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….. sheer joy of watching Cricket

It’s not about arguing who is the best among many …. It’s just a sheer joy of watching the Cricket, especially Sachin !

Some things people had said about him that I absolutely love —–

“On a train from Shimla to Delhi, there was a halt in one of the stations. The train stopped by for few minutes as usual. Sachin was nearing century, batting on 98. The passengers, railway officials, everyone on the train waited for Sachin to complete the century. This Genius can stop time in India!!” —- Peter Roebuck

” I am fortunate that I’ve to bowl at him only in the nets. ”  — Anil Kumble

” You get him out and half the battle is won ” — Arjuna Rantunga

” First and foremost, Tendulkar is an entertainer and that for me is as important factor as any fact or figure. Too often boring players have been pushed forward as great by figures alone. For sheer entertainment, he will keep cricket alive.”  — Barry Richards

” He has been in form longer than some of our guys have been alive. ” — Daniel Vettori

“In terms of technique and compactness, He is the best.” — Desmond Haynes

“I saw him playing on television and was struck by his technique, so I asked my wife to come look at him. Now I never saw myself play, but I feel that this player is playing much the same as I used to play, and she looked at him on television and said yes, there is a similarity between the two… high compactness, technique, stroke production… It all seemed to gel!” —- Sir Donald Bradman

“He continues to give more than 100 per cent and his schoolboy-like enthusiasm for the game is something I envy and admire. For the team he is the best available coaching manual.” —- Mahendra Singh Dhoni

” This little prick’s going to get more runs than you, AB.” —- Merv Hughes to Allan Border after an 18-year-old scored a century in Perth

” The more I see him, the more I want to see him.” —– Mohammad Azharuddin

“I never get tired during umpiring whenever Sachin is on crease” —- Rudy Kortzen

“Sachin made 9 centuries in one year but many cricketer did not make 9 centuries in their whole career.” — Saurav Ganguly

 ” Cricketers like him come once in a lifetime, and I am privileged he played in my time.” — Wasim Akram

“It was one of the greatest innings I have ever seen. There is no shame being beaten by such a great player, Sachin is perhaps only next to the Don.” —- Steve Waugh

” When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company, Roger Federer was a name unheard of; Lionel Messi was in his nappies, Usain Bolt was an unknown kid in the Jamaican backwaters. The Berlin Wall was still intact, USSR was one big country, Dr Manmohan Singh was yet to “open” the Nehruvian economy. It seems while Time was having his toll on every individual on the face of this planet, he excused one man. Time stands frozen in front of Sachin Tendulkar. We have had champions, we have had legends, but we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will.”

—  Anonymous

” Cricket’s greatest-ever batsman (partisans for Don Bradman can cavill until the cows come home) is still reaching new highs: he recently became the first player to reach 100 scores of 100 in international play. The “ton of tons” came a full year after his 99th, leading some to wonder whether Tendulkar was slowing down. That’s nonsense, and now that the acknowledged pressure to reach 100 is off, he’s likely to cut loose — a terrifying prospect for opponents, but a terrific one for lovers of the sport. “

— Time Magazine

Many of us strive for that particular moment in life where we can achieve that pristine perfection at what we want to or love to do. Most of them never achieve it, some can contemplate, “Yes, this is the best I can do and I am satisfied”. Very few are given achieve something which can attain a status of a landmark achievement. But, then you see the punch through the covers or a straight drive to a fast/medium pacer from Sachin, and dark clouds of doubt go away and you have to scream from the heart, “This is just perfect! “

 —  Just another crazy fan of Sachin (me !)  who loves to see him bat on a cricket pitch and forget everything  about the world !!!