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20 years of non-stop service!
by Gulu Ezekiel
May 28, 2005
One can only hope and pray that the “corrective surgery” performed in the UK on Sachin Tendulkar’'s troublesome elbow will ensure his full fitness when he is back in action hopefully sometime late this year.

There is no doubt that a half-fit or absent Tendulkar severely weakens the strength of the Indian batting. Ever since his back problems of 1999, the master batsman has missed a number of Tests and ODIs through a succession of injuries, mainly due to natural wear-and-tear of the body.

Though he is a young man of 32, by now his body must be feeling like that of a senior citizen! It is hardly surprising. Ever since he was 11 years-old and playing schools cricket, Tendulkar has been at it day in and day out. Imagine the stress and strain.

It is a wonder and tribute to his will-power that his hunger and enthusiasm for the game remain as sharp as ever. Despite his somewhat uncharacteristically harsh statements to the contrary, there can be little doubt that Tendulkar rushed his return to cricket last year against the visiting Aussies before he was fully fit.

He has not been the same since. Leaving aside the two Test matches in Bangladesh— where runs are dirt cheap —he has scored just four 50s and not a single century in the seven Tests since his return.

One can understand his anxiety to play against the Australians, especially when India were struggling to save the Test series. However, after playing in the last two Tests of that home series and then in the two that followed against South Africa, missing the tour to Bangladesh would have been in his best interests.

There was the suspicion then and it continues to linger, that he decided to make the tour simply to add some easy runs to his kitty.

He certainly achieved that with his highest score of 248 not out in the first Test at Dhaka. However, he was not a success in the matches that followed.

Evidence is also mounting that the new and slower version of Tendulkar was brought about by his nagging elbow injury. He did admit that it restricted him from playing certain strokes freely such as the pull.

Tendulkar’s metamorphosis from destroyer to accumulator has been one of the more surprising aspects of his game over the last two to three years.

Right from his school days, his natural style was to attack and dominate the opposition.

Certainly everyone (save the opposing bowlers) would love to see him back to his original style which saw him being compared to the peerless Viv Richards, modern cricket’s most ruthless batsman.

Fortunately India does not have too many high profile international commitments for the rest of the year.

What Tendulkar needs most of all now is complete rest and recuperation so that he can come back rejuvenated and charged up again.

Surely his fans can wait a few months if it means he will be back to his best.

 
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