Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, one of the greatest players to have ever played the game. Tendulkar has been the greatest icon of world cricket for almost two decades now and has several records to his credit.
From the highest number of international centuries to the most ODI and Test runs, to the highest number of Man-of-the-Match and Man-of-the-Series awards, he has achieved it all and still he is criticised every time he fails to score a century.
For heaven's sake, someone should remind these self-proclaimed critics that Tendulkar is a human and not a run machine. Before criticising him, these pundits should remember one simple thing - name a better player than him to play cricket beside Sir Don Bradman or maybe Sir Vivian Richards. A man who started playing for India at the age of 16, Tendulkar hardly had an adolescence before he was shouldering the expectations of billions of Indians, when most of these critics were trying to date their school or college sweethearts. At that time this gentleman was busy setting standards for the whole world to follow, and people think he is being affected by the numbers game, namely his 100th international century? Oh please, give me and his hard core fans a break.
Critics over the last six months have gone overboard and day after day they have been criticising the "Master Blaster" on one thing or the other. Do these critics really understand the game? Have they ever played this game? This is not the tennis-ball gully cricket in which you can chase down 180 in 10 overs. This is a man's game.
For over 20 years, the modern-day Bradman has tormented attacks around the world. Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh were no match for him. Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis did their best but with no reward. Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath tried as hard as they could but they were against the best.
I am shocked by this "quick to praise, quick to blame" attitude and shortsightedness of some of the critics and so called cricket experts. These are the same critics who were going all crazy when he scored his 50th Test ton and these are the same people who are just thrashing him in every article just because India has collectively failed overseas in the past few months. Why is Sachin's hundred to be blamed for this disastrous showing in the Test matches in England and Australia? What are the other ten guys doing in the team, showing middle finger to the crowd and fans?
Whether it is batting, bowling or fielding, this man has everything to help India win. He is the one person capable of bringing his country to a standstill. Whenever Sachin strides into the middle, the crowd goes berserk, TRP ratings and TV volumes go through the roof, tension levels hit an all time high and expectations increase to unprecedented levels.
From a child to an 80-year-old man, all have their sights set on Sachin. Every single time he walks onto the field, why do we expect him to score a ton? Why do we expect him to be a match-winner every time?
I wonder how the experts got into Sachin's head and predicted that the 100th ton is troubling the little master. Even if Sachin gets out on well made 30s, 70s and 80s, they all blame the hundred! Why? He has been out in the 90s many times before when he was no way near this landmark, so what was weighing on his mind then? Will any critic stand up and answer that?
If the ton weighs on his mind all the time, how does he produce such miraculous shots from the very first ball he faces? Shots which the Chappells, Shastris, Manjerekars and Arun Lals have never played or can play to even school kids bowling?
If one has to describe Sachin Tendulkar as a player, he would soon run out of adjectives; words like awesome, brilliant, magnificent are certain to cross your mind, though. He is a genius, with God-given talent no doubt. He stands at the crease, with such wonderful balance and poise and at the same time intimidating the bowlers and dare I say, he can still give the best of the bowlers nightmares.
He has carried the burden of expectations on his broad shoulders and no testimony is required to prove his contribution. He is miles ahead not only in the Indian team, but there is broad daylight between him and the rest of the batsmen who have played the game.
Has Sachin even once said that he is looking forward to that milestone century? Has he even once said to call him God? Has he even once asked to be termed the greatest batsman of the time? No, it's the media that is putting words in his mouth.
We as humans really do not know how to respect or take care of our heroes, whoever it is; whether he is a social worker or a cricketer. We seem to have a problem with successful people. We are always trying to bring down our current stars via suspicion or jealousy, or whatever other reason, after putting them on a pedestal ourselves.
Most appearances in ODI's, most ODI hundreds, most Test hundreds, most international hundreds, most runs in Test and one day-cricket history, most runs in a calendar year, most runs in any World Cup, the pages of record books would prove to be insufficient to record the achievements of this cricketing feat and then also people think he plays for record. Even if he plays, what's the problem with it? He is making those runs for TEAM INDIA and contributing for his country, not for any rival nation.
India loves him not only for his style of play, which is aggressive and fashionable, but also for the way he behaves off the field. He is respectful and one of the most humble guy you would come across. He does not flaunt his wealth, he leads a private life and guards himself from any controversy at all times.
The famous BBC Sport quote will perfectly sum up this article in one line, "Beneath the helmet, under that unruly curly hair, inside the cranium, there is something we don't know, something beyond scientific measure."