Friday, 16 March 2012

Finally - SRT and the statistical bucket

It's not been that long since the completely arbitrary landmark of one hundred international centuries became a thing, but a thing it undoubtedly has become, a thing of such weight and importance that it's loomed large and forebodingly over no such a head as that of the Little Master, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

But he has done it. He's finally done the thing that nobody thought was a thing until he reached about 95 international hundreds in all formats of the game. After the longest century-drought* in his career, he knocked 114 against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup and India basically stopped for an hour.

This thing about doing things 'in international cricket' only seemed to become a landmark when Muttiah Muralitharan was approaching 1000 wickets in all forms of the game. Yes, it's impressive, but does it really mean anything? Maybe with international players playing less domestic cricket it's had to become more of a thing as you're not going to get players scoring a hundred first-class hundreds a la Geoff Boycott, Mark Ramprakash, Jack Hobbs and many others. Denied that, maybe we have to start lumping all international cricket into the same statistical bucket and sieving out the nuggets we perceive to be significant. Is a t20 power-blast even comparable to a ten-hour grind to save a Test match? Or, more pertinently, should it be?

In all seriousness though, it was a huge deal. Since his 99th, the expectation level has gone through the roof and that happened to coincide with one of those dips in form that even happen to cricket immortals such as SRT. It would be nice - statistically speaking - for him to notch another ODI ton and make it 50 hundreds in both ODIs and Tests, but frankly, he's done enough. At times during this last year, it's looked like he's had the weight of the world on his shoulders. He's seen his good friend Rahul Dravid - only a few months older - retire from the game and it would not be a surprise to see Tendulkar call it a day after this tournament.

If he does retire, fine. If he carries on, fine. He owes the cricketing world nothing. Or at least he doesn't until someone reaches into the statistical bucket and discovers another thing that isn't really a thing but is portrayed as a hugely significant landmark.

EDIT: The above was written while the game was still ongoing. It has just finished and India have lost thanks in part to some horrible bowling and some thunderblasts off the bat of Mushfiqur Rahim. This is sort of poetic. It means that Sachin's meaningless hundred that came in a meaningless game in a meaningless tournament against meaningless opposition (if we're being very mean) to reach a meaningless statistical landmark becomes even more meaningless. And that's possibly the most meaningful thing about it.

* - one year and three months. Pfft. This author's century drought stands at 36 years, 11 months and three weeks. And counting.

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