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Balance of a Cricketing Legend
When the cricket gods decide to create the perfect batsman of all time, they give their prodigy the striking power of Viv Richards, the prolific shooting ability of Don Bradman and the poise of Sachin Tendulkar.
Much has been said about Sachin being a perfect batsman and many critics have debated his various strengths. But what produced this massive figure of 100 international centuries was the balance on the edge. The reason for writing this article is that this aspect of his batting has not been emphasized enough and I feel like people don’t realize it.
Shoaib Akhtar was easily one of the most feared fast bowlers of his generation and took Sachin’s wicket many times, which he must be proud of. He once said during an interview that he was bowling and Sachin was thrashing the Pakistani bowlers all over the park. He decided to try to catch Sachin on the pads with a sharp in-swinger. Now those who have played cricket know that a fast bowler looks at the batsman a split second after the delivery of the ball. Shoaib looked at Sachin and his blood was crawling when he saw that the big bat was already up and the ball was later pulled to the square leg boundary. The reason for mentioning the incident is that it gives you an idea of how quickly Sachin rose to the position. Realize that he was the fastest player in the world and could knock down your block. It is this fear that would deter most batsmen from playing all their shots. However, no problem for Tendulkar. He was completely nonchalant in his footwork against all kinds of bowlers. Front foot, back foot or somewhere in between can still send you to the boundary.
Only three times have I seen him get to jerky fast bowlers because of their pace. Once was against Henry Olong and the other was Alan Donald. Olonga might like to believe that his speed got him into the fight with the big man, but that was really a fluke. Sachin was bad on the return trip against him in the next match and what happened is folklore in India. Donald was smarter and had a theory that if a real fast bowler bowls a fast swinger at an opportune time in the match, Sachin will either get LBW or bowled. He brought out Tendulkar a couple of times to support this argument. But then Sachin made a correction in his technique to get his left foot over the line to avoid being dropped LBW or bowled. So this theory quickly disappeared. Another incident has to be Shoaib Akhtar in the 2003 World Cup semi-final when he got Sachin with a wild rising ball. But Sachin had done the damage with 75 98 balls by then.
His small stature may also have contributed to his gaining this balance. This goal position was unprecedented. I have never seen another batsman get into a position to play the cricket ball so quickly. So to become a perfect batsman apart from everything else, you will need Sachin Tendulkar’s eye of the tiger and poise!
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