The Little Master
Who is he?
If there is one face that all Indians recognize - regardless of which generation they come from, it is that of Sachin Tendulkar.
Being identifiable by over a billion people across the world, is a distinction very few individuals have achieved. His exploits on the cricket field have inspired countless youngsters, warmed the hearts of the middle-aged, and brought a smile of satisfaction on the lips of the greying.
On the occasion of his crossing the unprecedented 30,000-run mark in international cricket, it has also stimulated me to compose an ode to him!
March 16, 2012 marks a mind-boggling milestone in the history of the game of cricket. Sachin Tendulkar scores his 100th century in international cricket. It is an unparalleled achievement.
An ode to the little master
Activities of living abound;
Their range and reach will astound
The mind, if it attempts to comprehend;
Towards disbelief, it would surely tend.
Some appear urbane; some seem rude;
Depending on a being's nature and mood.
However, all occupations will reflect
Life's complexity in every respect.
In every activity of his on the cricket field,
A particular aspect of life is revealed.
Tolerance, contentedness, or being at ease;
Aggression and belligerence at the crease.
Agility and concentration when fielding a ball;
To contain a batsman, he would give his all.
Full of guile and astuteness, when he is to bowl.
His stratagems have taken many a toll.
Take the game of cricket as an exemplar,
Of which Sachin is a player beyond par.
His dedication, one cannot but appreciate;
Which others would do well to emulate.
For two decades, he has carried upon him
The hopes of a nation - a task onerous and grim.
For some, the comparison may seem odd,
But to Indian cricket lovers, he is God.
With the caliber of deliveries to suitably spar;
He has all appropriate shots in his repertoire.
Facing a full-length ball, in line with a stump;
For a defensive stance, he would generally plump.
Front foot stretched, bat and pad in line
With the pitch of the ball, both he would align.
Caution the watchword; prudence the maxim;
Patience the exercise, for instincts to trim.
At a short-length delivery, wide on the off,
His bat would sneer and disdainfully scoff.
A little backward step, his front foot would take.
His torso too following swiftly in its wake.
The willow would describe a conical swipe.
Bat would smack the ball; the bowler would gripe.
For the adoring viewers, it would be a lesson
In grabbing opportunities - beyond comparison.
A similar delivery bowled on the leg;
To be hit behind, it would seem to beg.
On one leg - the back, the batsman would pirouette;
The bat facing down a little, but held firm and true.
Yet another blow and the ball would have sped;
Outpacing the fielders, to the bowler's dread.
Connoisseurs would declare that this stance
Is nothing short of an exquisite step of dance.
The ode continues . . .
Often a naive opponent, intending to intimidate;
Sporting glowering eyes, and teeth that grate;
Propels down a speeding short-length ball;
Rising shoulder-high to the little man standing tall.
Peremptorily is it hooked over the ropes;
Overwhelming the disheartened bowler's hopes.
Defy bullying; the master would seem to say;
He only smiles, his willow talks all the way.
It isn't that bowlers are there always to be hit.
Often, the game meanders according to their writ.
The master offers block after disciplined block;
Maintaining constant vigil to prolong his knock.
Bat held plumb, legs together, and head bowed
To continue resolutely on his mission avowed.
In the statesman's trail that he has always trod;
He'd salute good bowling with a humble nod.
If the prospects of the team suddenly sour;
Tossing caution to the winds is the need of the hour.
The master would seamlessly change gears;
An avatar that the opposition terribly fears.
Strokes of every genre materialize in a flurry;
Even Time feels left behind and has to hurry.
Resurrecting a team, when it is stranded,
Is a task he can achieve single-handed.
Times, when he has been out for a first-ball duck;
Serenely he would walk, bat under his arm, tuck.
That sometimes, even gods need a bit of luck,
Is what ardent fans would indulgently cluck.
The little master, in his unperturbed calmness,
Who believes that a player should never transgress
Rules of the game, a paradigm he has constantly set,
Despite umpiring decisions having been incorrect.
Donning the role of peripheral warden,
Or assigned to guard the slip cordon;
The master acquits himself equally well,
Though skills, in different realms, they dwell.
While one requires excellent athletic mobility,
The other demands quick reflexes and agility.
Watching him on the field is a visual treat;
There isn't a cricketer who is more complete.
Talent and achievement is not every one's lot;
Bestowed on a selected few by destiny's plot.
The exclusive privilege of the not so fortunate
Is to eulogize those whom they highly rate.
An ideal relationship it is, a bond unique;
The glory of their champion is all that they seek.
Their icon's accomplishments are theirs too;
At every possible occasion, to be retold anew.