Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Lifetime of Little Masters

Symbolically, for me as I entered Planet Earth in 1952 was how Asia has been such central theme of my life. Mainly due to my parents being in what it was known as 'India' prior to the partition in 1947. Lauding everything about the Culture, the people, the diversity of beauty, and for that fact everything about that part of the World.

These words and memories seemed to call to me throughout my life, even in my first introduction to Cricket when I was sent to be schooled in South Africa in 1964. I immersed in the words of a Punjabi as we indulged in various culinary treats. He would laud the strength of the people in their ability to rise against overwhelming odds, and be the masters of better realities through their relentless determination coupled with their powers of innovation.

Symbolical not only for their individual kudos, but for the greater honour of their collective. I could wax lyrically about the great men and women in many aspects of life to embody this, but in the sport of Cricket. It has so been about the 3 Little Masters in Hanif Mohammad, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, that have been Asian crickets life blood

All leaving an indelible meaning for fans to identify with Asian Cricket, and have reason to be in awe of it. Then as if Fate was buying into this meaning, as one Little Master disappeared, another materialised as if to grab the baton and give another reason to stand and applaud in their presence.

The Original Little Master: Hanif Mohammad- 1952- 1969

Hanif Mohammad embodied the steely determination in all three in the sense that they could be beaten and bloodied, but never bowed. Embodied in his epic 16 hour 337 to draw a match that was lost as lost can be in 1958 against the West Indies. Which is widely regarded as the greatest rearguard of all time. Watch videos of Sunil Gavaskar against the widow making West Indies quicks of the 1970's or a 16 year old Sachin Tendulkar be bloodied by Waqar Younis in his first Test series, and you will see the spirit imbued in them by Hanif.

All three eye balling their foes, and never talking a step back during confrontations, but instead taking a step forward, and finding a way to initially counter it on a path to mastering it

Giving one chicken skin, due to its supreme inspiration, and as Hanif gave birth to the revered characteristics of the others. He also created the hysterical following that cricket has in Pakistan today

Away from his revered courage, you cannot deny the appetite for runs, and records that the great Pakistani achieved. That fostered not only a desire to exist, and be respected, but also a deep yearn to dominate. 

In bettering what was considered untouchable in his First Class score of 499* to surpass a mark set by Don Bradman standing for 30 years of 452. He left a footprint on the game that left a signature of immortality, best described in this quote

The scale of Hanif's 499 can be measured by the names on either side of it in the record books: Bradman and Lara

Like all the others, he transcended the game by the huge role he played in popularising the game in Pakistan. From a virtual splinter sport when he started to one with the hysterical following it has today. Mostly due to Hanif Mohammad

Little Master #2: Sunil Gavaskar- 1971-1987

In resembling Hanif's meaning in popularising the game in Pakistan, Sunil Gavaskar took it a step forward by fostering belief in not only his fellow Indian's, but India as a whole. In the respect that they weren't in the game simply to exist, but had the potential to strive for the stars and dominate.

Previous to Gavaskar, India had teased to rise and challenge the very best, but were found out when the heat was at its fiercest. This Little Master gave India a backbone with the professionalism he inspired in others, and his relentless determination to succeed. In his time in the game, India rose to number 1 in the Test ranking in 1971, and won the 1983 World Cup against unbackable favourite, the West Indies.

He is widely regarded as arguably the best opener in the history of the game with a full proof technique, and stoic defensive mannerism. Though do not doubt his attacking technique either, for when he decided to attack, there were few better. As this century that equalled Don Bradman's mark of 29 century against a brutal West Indian attack showed
Symbolically in this age where many players are forsaking Country for the allure of cash. Gavaskar was a bastion of patriotism. As shown by his repeated refusals to accept truck loads of cash to join Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket. Instead, always staying true to his beloved Indian Cap

Little Master #3: Sachin Tendulkar- 1989-??????

Like the previous two Little Masters, Tendulkar is an exceptional player. Even seen in some quarters as being a better batsman than Don Bradman. Though I do not share that sentiment, the truth of Tendulkar is he is a batsman of the highest class and calibre that has few peers.

What you can say about Tendulkar with reasonable surety is he is without doubt the most complete batsman in all forms of the game. He dominates in all of the games being the record holder for most runs in both Tests and ODI cricket, and then in T20 there are few better.

You could write a book about his endless individual achievements, but this video is a good depiction of his best
In my mind his records and individual accolades are irrelevant. For like Hanif and Sunil Gavaskar it is his meaning to his Nation that is his great tribute. It wouldn't be out of place to say that he is India's heart beat with the pulse racing when he is on top and it feeling a distinct murmur when he struggles.

He is more than a Hero to his fellow Indian's, he is more like a God that they have such faith in to give them meaning and joy in their days.

Then aside from what he gives through his play in the public eyes, he touches millions of more lives with what he does in secrecy. In respect to his lauded benevolent ways, that touch so many lives, and change them for the better

A great man, like the other 2 exceptional players and heroes for their Nations

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