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No country for old men

May 2, 2013

So, there’s a T20 cricket tournament on, and there are hot women in cheerleader costumes gyrating to Bollywood songs on set. And there are whirlwind centuries being made by the likes of C.H.Gayle and S.R.Watson, bucketfuls of wickets being taken by the likes of J.P.Faulkner and  A.Mishra and am sure physics-defying catches by the likes of K.Pollard.

With the torrent of games, the various team colours all merge into one psychedelic blob and it’s impossible to track who’s done what to the extent that it takes the fastest ever century in the history of the game to emerge from the humdrum to make a splash. Ask any “die-hard” fan about what are Virat Kohli’s scores over the course of the tournament and I’d guarantee a blank look followed by an angry bellow of “RCB!” I doubt most players, especially the internationals are losing sleep over their team’s lackluster performance in an environment that’s more exhibition than serious competition.

But seems there’s one constant in it all, unblinking scrutiny of Tendulkar’s batting. I’m guessing he’s scored about as many runs in the tournament so far as Gayle probably scored in his lowest scoring game, before taking guard.

Going by the facebook and twitter feed updates, he’s been looking like a creaking octogenarian, with a walking stick for a bat, blindfolded. And that’s probably a generous description.

Some hilarious takes on Tendulkar’s performance…

Now, this is NOT a “jump to Sachin’s defense” kinda post, lord knows I’ve done enough of those on this blog. This is more a sense of wonderment about the hold he has had on us, and still continues to. I’ve followed the above gentlemen on twitter for a while because of their takes on, on sports and other topics, often wrapped in sparkling satire. Overall, hold them in high regard.

Now, without having seen nearly any IPL games, am sure his batting must be way below the standards of even competent openers in this format. Am also sure there are umpteen other underperformers strewn about and his failures are probably not even impacting his team all that much anymore. So, really, Tendulkar’s failures should ‘rationally’ get about as much airtime as those of a Yuvraj or an Utthappa. And yet, there is so much passive aggressiveness in the comments I come across, still fixating on his performance. Like cranky old men muttering their disapproval of the weather, the noisy neighbourhood kids, the universe.

I suspect this is a trait shared by those of our generation, the one that grew up watching Tendulkar bat in a time when India would be 12/3 in their 2nd innings by the time they cleared immigration on foreign tours. And I think the sly comments are a withdrawal from a decade and a half of rushing home to TV sets to look for his easily identifiable frame to be at one end before exhaling or acknowledging family members.

The fix of watching a Tendulkar rearguard was a powerful one and over time, even as the team needed it less and less, we, the 90′s viewer generation didn’t quite wean ourselves off. So, in a world, where the Kohlis, Pujaras, Dhonis fittingly take center stage, we still peek to check on Tendulkar’s score and let loose with a tirade about “why doesn’t he go away”. Or like the wittier among us, tweet satirically.

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