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Tiger Woods and Sachin Tendulkar are in the same league
by Sunil Gavaskar
Feb 07, 2008
By Sunil Gavaskar - Dreamcricket Special Columnist

It was a weekend of astonishing achievements in sport and that too in the far corners of the world. The New York giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl which is the biggest sporting event in America much against the odds and form and in the United Arab Emirates Tiger Woods came from behind to win the Dubai Desert Classic for the second time. Since I am not too aware of the rules and finer points of American Football it would not be proper to dwell too much on it but all the ‘pundits’ who follow that game were pretty certain before the finals that the Patriots who had an unbeaten record coming into the finals would win the day. Sport can make fools of all of us who think that we know it inside out and that’s how it happened, as the New York giants upset the form book and won. The Super Bowl is the priciest medium for advertising on TV and the rates that are asked for and got are beyond imagination but then just about every American stops to watch and so it makes sense to put your product on TV if you want it to be noticed.

When the final round was to be played in Dubai, Tiger Woods at 7 under was four strokes behind the leader Ernie Els and that was going to need a near miraculous final day from the world number one to claim the trophy again. What do you know! Tiger finished 14 under and put pressure on Els to top that. Els hit the ball in the water on the final hole and with that went his chances of having a play off for the title. It was an awesome display by Woods and he continues to distance himself from the rest of the pack. At the start of every year the talk is invariably whether Tiger will do the Grand Slam of golf by winning all the four major titles in that year. He has of course done the ‘Tiger slam’ where he has won four consecutive majors but not in the same year and doing the Grand Slam must be one way of motivating himself for Woods. After a three month break he has come back to competitive golf and won both the events he has played in which is ominous to say the least.

A couple of days later in Australia in the tri-series Sachin Tendulkar became the first player to reach 16000 runs in one-day cricket. This is a phenomenal achievement and with most of the players way behind him and not getting any younger it’s a score that will take some doing to get to for the others. Tendulkar is still playing and so may even go onto a few more thousand runs and just like Tiger Woods, the gulf between him and the others increases every year.

Only a year ago there were many former players who were asking for Tendulkar’s head, especially after India’s dismal performance in the ICC World Cup. To say that most if not all of them are not even fit to tie his boot laces is to put it mildly and just goes to show not just ignorance but also a streak of envy when there should be nothing but admiration for a player who has borne the pressures and heavy expectations from the huge Indian cricket loving public with a dignity and composure that you won’t find in other sportspersons. Tiger Woods comes closet as far as expectations are concerned but his is an individual sport and not where a country’s sporting fortunes, aspirations and excitement levels rest. To have to bear with it for so many years with it not flagging or reducing one bit is amazing and speaks a whole lot about the man’s dedication to his craft as well as the unflappable temperament that is needed to ignore the ignoramuses and let the bat do the responding. Tiger woods has found that his single mindedness and his unwavering focus hasn’t always worked when playing for a team as can be seen in the Ryder Cup event where America hasn’t been able to use his presence to win the cup as often as it should. The little champion on the other hand has contributed enormously to his team not just on the field with bat and ball but also by his very presence in the dressing room where he is such an inspiration and source of comfort to his teammates especially the juniors. He is known to take them under his wing and it does not have to be a batsman but can be a bowler as well and his words of experience have eased many a nervous player and settled the butterflies in his tummy.

Both Tiger and Sachin are in their thirties now and so the raw talent that the sporting world gaped at with open mouths about a decade back has given way to a more realistic and pragmatic approach but that has in no manner diminished the appeal and the fascination that they hold for the sports lover.

They have conquered many a peak but they are not done yet and when they finally finish they will have left a trail that will be easy to see but hard to follow.
 
More Views by Sunil Gavaskar
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