New Delhi: Paying rich tribute to Sachin Tendulkar, who completes 20 glorious years in international cricket on Sunday, noted columnist Peter Roebuck described the champion Indian batsman as the "most satisfying cricketer of his generation".
Roebuck said along with retired spin wizard Shane Warne, Tendulkar has been the cricketer who has given enormous pleasure to followers of the game wherever it is played.
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"It has been an incredible journey, a trip that figures alone cannot define. Not that the statistics lack weight, they are astonishing, almost mind-boggling. He has scored an avalanche of runs in every form of the game, reached three figures 87 times, and all the while has somehow retained his freshness, somehow avoided the mechanical, the repetitive and the predictable," Roebuck wrote.
"Perhaps that has been part of it, the ability to retain the precious gift of youth. Alongside Shane Warne, the Indian master has been the most satisfying cricketer of his generation," he said.
Stating that even West Indian batting great Brian Lara does not get as much adulation as Tendulkar does, Roebuck said what made the Indian more enjoying was the simplicity in his execution.
"Over decades it has been Tendulkar's rare combination of mastery and boldness, blend of the sublime and the precise that has delighted connoisseurs and crowds alike. More than any other batsman, even Brian Lara, Tendulkar's batting has provoked gasps of admiration," Roebuck wrote.
"Viv Richards could terrorise an attack with pitiless brutality, Lara could dissect bowlers with surgical and magical strokes, Tendulkar can take an attack apart with towering simplicity. From the start he had an uncanny way of executing his strokes perfectly. Tendulkar was born to bat," wrote Roebuck about Tendulkar who made his international debut in Tests against Pakistan on November 15, 1989.
Touching upon the pressure on Tendulkar faces from a demanding billion fans whenever he went out to bat, Roebuck described the Mumbaikar as "proudest possession of India".
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"And yet, the runs, the majesty, the thrills, does not capture his achievement. Reflect upon his circumstances and then marvel at his feat. Here is a man obliged to put on disguises so that he can move around the streets, a fellow able to drive his cars only in the dead of night for fear of creating a commotion, a father forced to take his family to Iceland on holiday, a person whose entire adult life has been lived in the eye of a storm.
"Throughout he has been public property, India's proudest possession, a source of joy for millions, an expression of a vast and ever-changing nation. At times India has sprung too quickly to his defence, as if a point made against him was an insult to the nation, as if he were beyond censure. A poor lbw decision can all too easily be turned into a cause of worry," Roebuck wrote.
"Happily Tendulkar has always retained his equanimity. He is a sportsman as well as a cricketer. By no means has it been the least of his contributions, and it explains his widespread popularity."
Roebuck felt even today Tendulkar still has the freshness of his youth days which was visible in his masterly 175 against Australia in Hyderabad.
"Tendulkar has been playing top-class cricket for 20 years and he's still producing blistering innings, still looking hungry, still demolishing attacks. From his first outing to his most recent effort, a stunning 175 in Hyderabad, he has been a great batsman. Longevity counts amongst his strengths. Twenty years! It's a heck of a long time, and it's gone in the blink of an eye," he wrote.