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An incredible article came from Rohit Brijnath today on cricinfo.  Truly brilliant! I must say, it is heartening to see that a gem came in the middle of all these scuffle by the crazy Indian media, barking senselessly, discussing and debating for the Fabulous cricketers to retire.  I am glad that, these fantastic cricketers (Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Kumble and Ganguly) played in an era when I enjoyed the game so much. Without them, the game can never be so exciting. 

http://content-uk.cricinfo.com/magazine/content/current/story/372146.html

“Like Lara, he has scored runs all over the world. I have seen him run down the pitch and hit Glenn McGrath over the top for six, and I have seen him hit me for six against the spin going around the wicket”

When the best spinner of all time, ever to have played the game of cricket say this, it means there is more than substance to it. Surely, Shane Warne knows what he is talking about. Anyone who has seen the Tendulkar era would rate him as one of the best batsman of his time, if not more. So, in my reading, Shane Warne got his assessment very neatly right. As the legendary spinner remarked, Tendulkar and Lara are two of the finest batsmen played during his playing era and there is only fine line separate these two. I personally, don’t prefer to separate them. To me, both of them complimented very well, and at times very similar too. One a right hand bat, the other left handed. One more flamboyant, the other text book perfect. Both attacking and times impossible to dismiss. One had the expectation of a billion people, while the other was more rebellious and often busy composing a symphony of his own class and date with destiny.

In some way, this assessment of Shane warne must be kept along with the very similar remark Don Bradman made about Tendulkar ten years back. He was equally candid to state that Tendulkar was one current batsman, who nearly resembled the Don himself in technique and stroke play. Now, we have the two best best players of all time, one batsman and the other bowler agreeing when it comes to the finest batsman since Bradman. Not many would disagree. If they do, then it lacks substance and proper reasoning. If you really look at the critics of Tendulkar, they are all guys who pass remarks based on 2 or 3 failures in a series. For example, when India exited the 2007 world cup in the very first round, there were furies and sounds for his head. Mind you, only he was targeted. What is the rational for such huge clamour? He played 3 innings and scored only one 50. True, he failed in two innings and one of the loss was enough to pack the bags. That is not quite the reason to singularly blame a batsman of his class for the exit. Common fans reactions at times are expected because the expectations from Tendulkar when he go to bat for India is beyond what words could describe. They want him to score at least a 100 in fewer balls with a minimum of few sixes and some down the lane whack. They want him to this every single time he go out to bat. In the hey days, Tendulkar could hit Mcgrath for sixes with consistency, but that is not going be a practical norm for every match. To add more masala there will be occasional senseless remarks by people like Kapil Dev, who out of the blue try to belittle him with remarks like ‘He never lived up to expectation’. Firstly, he gets it wrong when he uses the word ‘never’. Perhaps he didn’t drop in intentionally. Hindi to English translation perhaps change the meaning of the content considerably. Perhaps, but I don’t know! Secondly, he must understand that, it is easy to throw wild criticism without facts. Someone become hero not because he/she does something once in a blue moon. They build on to prove their mettle time and again, over a considerable test of time. In Tendulkar case as well, he earned the respect of millions of cricket lovers because of the sheer performance on cricket field. Let us admit and enjoy his game, as much as you can.

Tendulkar and Lara are once in a while phenomena. Unfortunately Lara is not there in the big scene anymore. Thankfully we still have Tendulkar, at least for a few more years. While he is there we can cherish for some class on a cricket field. By no means, we can expect him to be a machine to do a routine bash job like a quad core processor. When he does it, it is one of those ‘making it feel better’ proud moments to enjoy a sport. Let us appreciate those moments. As they say, once he is gone from the scene, there wouldn’t be too many such things in the pipe to hope for!

By the way, the list of Shane warne’s top 50 positions are largely his observation. We must accept his rational. It is very hard to put a number to a player, because the measure is not quite always black and white. I for instance would consider Steve Waugh in top ten, when Warne consider him at 26th position behind Lehman. Steve Waugh was not merely a match saver to me. He was much broader in scope than Shane Warne’s remarks. He might not have been as gifted and flamboyant as his brother younger by a minute, but he often fixed a high valued stamp for his wicket. That made it extra hard to get his wicket. One another aspect of Steve Waugh, I liked is his urge to push for a win, irrespective of the risk involved, at least at a majority of times.

The top 50 from Shane Warne’s list of cricketers, from his playing era are [1]

50 Jamie Siddons
49 Darren Berry
48 Brian McMillan
47 Chris Cairns
46 Dilip Vengsarkar
45 Waqar Younis
44 Alec Stewart
43 Michael Atherton
42 Ravi Shastri
41 Justin Langer
40 Kapil Dev
39 Stuart MacGill
38 Sanath Jayasuriya
37 Stephen Harmison
36 Andy Flower
35 Michael Vaughan
34 Bruce Reid
33 Allan Donald
32 Robin Smith
31 Tim May
30 Kevin Pietersen
29 Shoaib Akhtar / Craig McDermott
28 Saeed Anwar / Mohammad Yousuf
27 Jacques Kallis / Shaun Pollock
26 Steve Waugh
25 Darren Lehmann
24 Brett Lee
23 Stephen Fleming
22 Martin Crowe
21 David Boon
20 Adam Gilchrist
19 Aravinda de Silva
18 Merv Hughes
17 Matthew Hayden
16 Andrew Flintoff
15 Graham Gooch
14 Rahul Dravid
13 Anil Kumble
12 Mark Waugh
11 Courtney Walsh
10 Ian Healy
9 Mark Taylor
8 Ricky Ponting
7 Muttiah Muralitharan
6 Wasim Akram
5 Glenn McGrath
4 Allan Border
3 Curtly Ambrose
2 Brian Lara
1 Sachin Tendulkar

[1]http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/columnists/shane_warne/article2364258.ece

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