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 that Tendulkar, along with retired spin wizard Shane Warne , has been the cricketer who has given enormous pleasure to followers of the game wherever it is played.
Sachin Tendulkar"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 a 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 in his column on cricinfo.
"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's batsmanship enjoyable was the simplicity in his execution.
"Over decades it has been Tendulkar's rare combination of mastery and boldness, a 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.
Touching upon the pressure that Tendulkar faces from a demanding billion fans whenever he goes out to bat, Roebuck described the Mumbaikar as "proudest possession of India ".
"And yet, the runs, the majesty, the thrills, do not capture his achievements. 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 celebre," 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 which was visible in his masterly 175 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. "In those days (early years in international cricket) Tendulkar was a tousle-haired cherub prepared to stand his ground against all comers, including Wasim Akram and the most menacing of the Australians, Merv Hughes. Now he is a tousle-haired elder still standing firm, still driving and cutting, still retaining some of the impudence of youth, but nowadays bearing also the sagacity of age," Roebuck said.
Writing about a couple of controversies involving Tendulkar, Roebuck wrote, "Inevitably mistakes have been made. Something about a car, something else about a cricket ball, and suggestions that he had stretched the facts to assist his pal Harbhajan Singh . But then he is no secular saint.
"It's enough that he is expected to bat better than anyone else. It's hardly fair to ask him to match Mother Teresa as well."