I envy Indian cricket - they had Tendulkar!
I envy India because if Pakistan had someone of Tendulkar's calibre, we would have been a different force today.
The man has retired. The 49-centuries hero has finally bid adieu to an illustrious 23-year-old career that changed the very definition of Indian batting.
Words fail when you attempt to glorify this cricketing legend. You turn to numbers instead. If 18,426 runs at an incredible average of 44:83 in 463 matches with a record 49 centuries and 96 staggering 50s don’t tell you the story, nothing ever will. Sachin Tendulkar was indeed in a league of his own.
Thank you, little master. Thank you for the memories.
Spoken enough from the mind; here’s what the heart thinks:
Sachin was a great batsman. I envy him. In fact, I envy the whole of India because he represented and scored all those runs for them. I envy him, because if Pakistan had someone of his calibre and class, we would have been a different force today. As much as I hate to admit this, the reality is that Pakistan was a ‘Tendulkar’ away from glory – the glory and success that deserted us throughout the last ten years in one-day cricket.
In 2003, Saeed Anwar retired. He was Pakistan’s run machine, someone who was considered this country’s answer to Tendulkar. It’s been almost 10 years now and believe it or not, we are yet to find an able replacement, an opener extraordinaire, who could tear apart bowling attacks and pile on the runs.
That’s when you realise how Pakistan could have done with a Tendulkar up top. How Pakistani bowlers who more often than not succeeded in restricting the oppositions to mediocre first-inning totals would have loved someone like a Tendulkar to score those runs and avoid the hiccups (read: Pakistan batting’s infamous chasing blues) that earned them the ‘unpredictables’ tag.
When was the last time you saw a Pakistani opener go on a lengthy streak playing with consistency, confidence, flamboyance and flair like Tendulkar?
From the Wastis to the Nazirs, from the Afridis to the Akmals, we’ve seen a whole host of names come and go. But no one, no one was even remotely close to Tendulkar. The harsh reality is that we just couldn’t produce one.
Furthermore, I get atrociously envious thinking about what could have been if we had a Tendulkar playing for us in the 1999 World Cup final or in the disastrous 2003 and 2007 World Cups. My blood boils when I hear that tone of uncertainty in the voice of commentators when we’re chasing a low total. That’s the reputation we have built during the past ten years. A reputation that has developed because of the absence of a Tendulkar.
This also reminds me of the popular argument that most Pakistani fans, including myself, present about all those centuries that Tendulkar scored.
"Whenever Sachin gets a 100, India lose."
Oh, who are we kidding?
How does that undermine the misery he piled up on opposition teams?
How was it his fault that the Indian bowlers were not good enough to clean up or restrict the opposition batsmen?
That’s when you think what a wonderful match Sachin Tendulkar and Pakistan would have made. A match truly made in heaven.
Sachin’s master class supported by Pakistan’s plethora of bowling talent – it’s the stuff dreams are made of. So don’t blame me for being envious that we weren’t blessed with him.
I speak here as a disgruntled Pakistani fan, who respects Tendulkar from the bottom of his heart, for what he has achieved in the sport, but also hates him with equal intensity for scoring all those runs for our arch-rivals.
I’m envious because Pakistan was indeed a Tendulkar away from glory through all these years.
Wasim Akram, arguably one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time, had this to say about Tendulkar upon his retirement:
“Sachin was really 16 at the time when he came to Pakistan in 1989 and Waqar and I thought, ‘What will this 16-year-old do against us?’ I hit him in his face but he still showed a lot of gumption and courage and went on to score a 50 in the fourth Test in Sialkot and that is when we realised that this man was a special, special talent.”
Exactly, Wasim bhai, exactly!
Read more by Emad here, or follow him on Twitter @EmadZafar