Magazine article The Spectator

Tendulkar's Indian Summer

Magazine article The Spectator

Tendulkar's Indian Summer

Article excerpt

First an apology: in common with commentators, pundits and blowhards across the land this column may well have given the impression that it viewed the cricket World Cup as a preposterously overblown farrago of money-making and greed, built around a tired format and symptomatic of the corrupt and decadent way most major sports are run.

About as appetising in fact as a John Galliano lecture on the Talmud.

However, in retrospect, it seems clear that the tournament is in fact a canvas for some of the most exciting cricket ever played, allowing the world's best players to showcase their talent at will, and in a vibrant, multilayered format demanding exquisite captaincy skills and all-round athleticism. Is that clear?

Last weekend's match between India and England at Bangalore was about as thrilling, all the way, as any sporting contest you can think of.

Besides the extraordinary result, a tie on 338 runs for each side after 100 overs of cricket, you also had some blinding performances. And I don't just mean Andrew Strauss's astonishing and aggressive 158, or Ajmal Shahzad's first-ball six in the last over.

For me it was, yet again, Sachin Tendulkar who made the eyes water.

To see him scampering between the wickets at the age of 36, controlling his innings perfectly, letting Swann know he wasn't going to hang about, and displaying a flawless sense of where all the fielders were, was to watch pure mastery . The forest of statistics around Tendulkar only convey one level of his brilliance. I have just had a look at a YouTube edit of his first test century, in England, at Lords, when he was just 17. Coming in at number six, with India chasing more than 400 to win, he saved his team - and offered glimpses of victory - in a wonderful innings that knocks on the head that absurd view that he only delivers when it doesn't matter.

He knew early he was special and learned to live with it, with dignity, with restraint and responsibility. …

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