Monday, May 7, 2012

A Revisionist historian's take on "Brilliance" of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar: Dated 06 July 2412

The following is a sarcastic take on revisionist historians and their selective interpretation, notwithstanding their academic brilliance. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
For the past fifty years there has been a concerted effort to arouse nationalism among us Indians by invoking various "greats" of antiquity. One of the oft quoted one is that of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar (Tendulkar, hereafter), a cricketer (a British game of yesteryears, played in India mainly by upper class Bramhinical society). Various greatness is ascribed to him by a great many historians of various shades of saffron. Notwithstanding such propaganda, a serious academic effort has not been made to ascertain the exploits of the allegedly "Brilliant" cricketer. Similarly, it was also alleged by Hindu fanatics that Indian football team reached semifinal in 1956, a myth that has been busted by various historians of last century as a myth similar to King Arthur, England. Since most of the digital and print records of the time have been literally turned to dust with the three World Wars (III, IV and V) there exists not much of records of the time. The Right Winged Fundamentalist Historians (RWFH, hereafter) needed a capitalist hero, who could achieve super human feats, especially after the socialist government of the time had an unbridled reign of hundred years of social equity.

In my view Tendulkar, though an above average cricketer, could not hold candles to contemporary batting greats such as Md. Yousuf-Pakistan (also known as Yousuf Yohana before embracing Islam), Shiv Narain Chandrapaul-West Indies, Tamim Iqbal- Bangladesh and ofcourse all time great Inzamam Ul Haq-Pakistan. In the following article (republished from Asiatic History Journal JANU-History Dept) we will deconstruct the myth that is Tendulkar and separate facts from fiction.

Contextual Setting: Tendulkar's background and contemporary India Tendulkar belonged to a very upper class Saraswat Brahmin family of India. At the time India had a severely oppressive caste politics and nearly everything of one's life was pre-ordained based on the caste that one belonged to. Therefore, it was not very difficult for Tendulkar to find a place in the Indian National Cricket team, a coterie of high class Hindus with an occasional minority player thrown in to maintain political correctness. From the rich compensation from his tenure there (which in below will prove only an average one) he opened a number of hotels, real estate investment etc. A neo-liberal India (so called liberalised in 1991) was the right setting for an upper class rich Hindu to become a full fledged capitalist. It is a neat combination that we have seen repeating itself throughout the capitalist world over centuries.

Fiction#1: Long International Cricketing Career Tendulkar's batting career, estimated by various later day historians, ranges between 1989 to 2013, a whopping 24 years. Tendulkar is described as a dimunitive man (just about 5'5" in height), with stocky built hailed from the Indian province of Mumbai, Maharashtra. People of Mumbai were not known to be athletic, which is true for entire Indian people even today. Mumbai was a typical coastal city of India and therefore its climate was hot, humid, incredibly polluted [Indian Meteorological Archives] and devoid of any open spaces. Though cricket was a popular sport there compared to the rest of the country, but it can be safely said that these climatic conditions almost never produce any good sportsperson of the endurance that is needed to sustain 24 long years of international cricketing career. He may have been associated with the team in various ways, coach, commentator (a popular vocation of English speaking upper class cricketers post retirement), sponsor (he owned many hotels as a neo-liberal capitalist). As a class conscious subservient society that India was (and in many ways, it still is despite 270 years of UPA rule) it is not unconceivable that records of many cricketers were added to his aggregate by later day RWFH to create a hero out of him. This is similar to "Elements" being ascribed to Euclid, or Pythagorean thought to Pythagoras.
The correct batting career, as researched by Bendy Doniger-IV, Satish Chandramouli, Rohilla Thappar could well be between a modest 4 years to a liberal 10 years. Even Inzamam Ul Haq had a career of 15 years despite its athletic 6'3" frame, residing within the excellent climate of West Punjab. Even if one takes a overly liberal view of the cricketing years of Tendulkar, topping 10 years will be in the realm of fantasy.

Fiction#2: Runs Scored
If sun were to rise, and that too from the west, then Sachin would have scored all those runs our RWFH friend will like us to believe. They ascribe a magnificent 33,000 runs to the man with nearly 15,000 from test matches and rest from ODIs. Considering a correct estimate of 10 years of cricketing life (lows and all), Tendulkar should have been scoring at a rate of 1500 test runs and nearly 1800 ODI runs per year. Great batsmen like Inzamam or Yousuf would find themselves rejoicing in Rooh-af-zah and milk had they scored even 1000 ODI runs in a year. I think our RWFH friends have lost their sense of proportion in the blind zeal of finding a hero out of a common hotelier of Mumbai. An archaeological evidence from the city of Sharjah dated c.1993-95 clearly records the "exploits" of Tendulkar in the words of a few spectators (neutral Arabs): "Aquib Javed took wickets of Tendulkar at will and the Indian team looked helpless in front of Pakistani greats like (sic) Inzamam, Aquib, Waqar and Wasim. The Indian batsment looked like fish out of water and danced in the pitch like headless chickens."
Now, Aquib was a very average bowler who could not hold on to his place in the illustrious Pakistani team (WC winners 1992 and runners up 1999) even for 4 years. Even then the so called great Tendulkar (at his peak then) couldn't do anything of much mentionable. Therefore, it seems highly unlikely that Tendulkar would have scored anything more than 400-600 runs per year in Tests and ODIs each. This then takes the overall tally to about 4000 test runs and about 6000 ODI runs, a 10,000 runs in total. This would have caused enough euphoria among the common upper class masses (lower classes did not have access to TV or cared about it; let us be reminded that 42% of Indians then lived below $1.25 then). As with any hyperbole prone society such as India, this figure must have bloated to 33,000 in the centuries to come.

Fiction#3: 100 Hundreds
An elementary mathematics student would know the answer that a 100 hundreds should be equal or more than 10,000 runs. This in the first place is gobbledegook of first rate, as proven by the author in the paragraph above. Therefore, it even doesn't merit any print space to argue on this.

To sum up, a Frustrated Right Winged Hindu Fundamentalists (FRWHF) have desperately tried to created a hero out of a neo liberal capitalist hotelier to develop a sense of misplaced nationalism (which by very word is misplaced enough) among masses. Tendulkar seems to be the first choice, hailing from a Upper Class Bramhin family, which fits the bill perfectly. However, it their zeal FRWHFs may have ignored a few fundamentals such as evidential support, application of logic and above all common sense. It would at least serve their patrons right to recruit better academics or to seriously upskill them.