For those who are not into the habit of reading newspapers, my comment appeared in today’s (February 27, 2010) Mumbai Mirror, pg 10, in the section Mumbai Talking. Former England skipper Nasser Hussain’s comment that Sachin Tendulkar is greater than the great Don Bradman evoked them to ask a few lesser mortals like me the question that’s posted as the title to this post. So, while my comment was edited and cut to size by the broadloid, I thought I’ll use the liberty of owning a free blog-site and post my comment – unadulterated and in my words – for the fingerful (not handful) of the visitors to this ‘humble’ site:

It’s unfair to comment on which among the two will have the superlative. We are talking about two different eras here!

Uncovered pitches, little or no protective gears and for that matter, no genuine laws to protect the batsman from getting killed (a la Bodyline Series) defined Don’s era. Imagine facing a hard leather-ball being hurled at your face or on your body, which by the way, is minus any protection! And with Douglas Jardine and Harold Larwood (who supposedly was as quick as today’s Shoaib Akhtar and Bret Lee) going for the ‘kill’, almost literally, the batsmen were never quite sure whether they would survive to see the next ball, let alone the next morning! Not to forget, cricket was suspended for almost 10 years during the Second World War. Such situations demanded an army-man-like bravery, concentration and of course, focus to continue in cricket after a decade of break! Bradman, undoubtedly, had all of these in plenty and more. You may never again see a batting average of 99.94 for a guy who has played more than 50 Test Matches!

Switch to the current era: A match every second day, touring around the world visiting almost 3-4 countries/nations every year, three different versions of the game, a billion analysts, who in one moment can cloth you in adulation and eulogise you to godly levels and in the next, burn that very cloth into ashes with their criticisms – all of these define the current era, thus, requiring amazing fitness, unadulterated passion and quick adjustments to play at all levels – the longer, shorter and the shortest! You don’t need to look farther than the champion, who very recently scaled the peak which no man in the planet has reached before – Sachin Tendulkar!

There you are – You just can’t compare the two greats, in fact – the greatest, in two eras! I’d say, till the 1950s, Don was the best. And after that, there has been none greater than Sachin!

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How true – India skips a beat when Sachin takes strike. He would be yet to open his account, or when he might be on 99, the nation wants to see him get that one elusive run. And at most times, he hasn’t disappointed!

Skip to 24 February 2010, Gwalior, India:
I’ve never seen a beautifully timed and powerfully hit six from an Indian batsman’s willow getting jeers, rather than cheers from fellow Indians! Never have I seen Indians clapping when an opposition fielder saves a boundary and restricts their own batsman for a single. I saw that happen today!

The Corp HQ canteen of one of India’s largest companies that I work for jeered at a Dhoni six, and cheered when Amla saved a certain boundary and restricted Dhoni to just a single. For it was just a matter of time before the room exploded after that famous ‘heart-beat-skip’ as the little master dabbed a Protean delivery to point and ran those 23 yards to become the first ever player in world cricket to conquer the Everest of 200 in Limited Overs’ International!!! And I can proudly tell my grandchildren, “I was there. I was there!!!”

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Apparently, while in South Africa, you should never ask for directions from an Indian! Here’s why:

“Sir, how can I get to the Capetown Airport from here?”
“Well, you go straight, right. Skip the first turn to the right, right? Take the next right, right? Then, you go straight straight straight, right? From there, take the third right, right? From the robot (that’s a signal in India), take a left, right? Take the next right, and a left and right, right? Again straight, right? Then a left, right? And another left, right? And there you are- Capetown Airport right in front of you, right?”

Thanks to Carlo, who did his pilot training in South Africa, for this one. HAPPY BIRTHDAY (it was yesterday, right?)!

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