Hello and welcome once again to DRS, my own personal space where I discuss matters cricket on Cricketnext.com. Let's talk today about an interesting comparison between the two geniuses of our time – Sachin Tendulkar, the first international batsman to score a hundred international centuries, and Vishwanathan Anand, now a five-time world chess champion. Clearly these two individuals are the biggest achievers, in a sense, of our times when it comes to Indian sportspersons.
It is unfortunate if one would have to make a comparison between the two because comparisons are often odious. But still, it is interesting to look at the two phenomenons - the phenomenon of Anand and that of Tendulkar. Tendulkar has played in the glare of publicity for the last two decades and as a result, he has perhaps had more pressure on him than Vishwanathan Anand, dare one say. On the other hand, Anand has stayed away from India for most of the last 20 years. He has made a base for himself in Spain, but unlike Tendulkar, who plays cricket – a sport played by eight or ten countries at a proficient level – chess is a global sport in the truest sense of the word, a sport that for ages was dominated by the Russians.
To break the Russian monopoly, Anand must deserve every possible accolade. Tendulkar, perhaps more pressure at home; Anand, playing a truly global sport. How do you really compare the two?
I think the one thing that stands out with both these individuals is their ability to handle all the praise and accolades that they've got over the years. You speak to Tendulkar today and he's still that same self-effacing but self-confident now that he was 20 years ago. Speak to Anand and he exudes a quiet confidence. I think that's one thing that the two individuals really share.
They are not the kind to boast about their achievements. You won't find them engaging in histrionics. Both of them, in the truest sense of the word, are the best ambassadors for their sport. Anand might have the edge when it comes to individual sporting sense, but I think they must rank at par with each other for the sheer fact that they have durability. Both these individuals have been at the top for two decades and more and that is truly remarkable. To do that in chess, with lots of players coming up, and to do that in cricket, with young players coming up, is quite remarkable.
I think the best way to recognize the two is to perhaps avoid all the comparisons. Just say that this country should be proud. We don't have one, but two sportspersons deserving of a Bharat Ratna – Sachin Tendulkar and Vishwanathan Anand. Truly jewels in the crown, lets forget the comparisons and just celebrate the fact that we've lived in an age where two Indians have reached the very top of their respective sports.