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Australian board asked to cash in on Tendulkar

SYDNEY : Australian media and cricket followers believe that the next tour of India Down Under provides their board — Cricket Australia — to show not only its “maturity and awareness and worldliness” but also a “priceless opportunity to promote the Tendulkar farewell”.

Writing in The Australian over the weekend, noted cricket writer Mike Coward said: “The reception afforded Sachin Tendulkar this summer will be a measure of the maturity of the Australian cricket community.”

“While he will reject the very notion, Tendulkar can claim to be the greatest batsman since Don Bradman and his visit this summer provides us with a priceless opportunity to pay him homage,” Coward added.

The writer admitted: “Historically, Indian teams have not been greeted with the affection and enthusiasm reserved for visits by England and, for a period, the West Indies. However, the sphere of influence in world cricket has changed dramatically in recent years and India is now the game’s powerbroker and demanding the respect and recognition long denied it by the entrenched attitudes of traditionally Anglocentric legislators.”

The Indian cricket board, he points out, boasts considerable clout. “And there can be no doubt its greater say extends to programming. Cricket Australia had no option but to restructure this international season after the BCCI said its team would not be available until late December.”

Recently, when the Sri Lankans toured Australia, there was considerable criticism at the “lack of publicity and promotion leading into the inaugural Warne-Muralitharan Trophy series”.

Paying Tendulkar rich compliments, the paper noted: “Tendulkar is the most self-effacing of men and is always embarrassed when his name is linked with Bradman. Be that as it may, there is no doubting his genius and he was honoured rather than flattered when told that Bradman was an admirer.”

It may be recalled that Bradman called to his wife to watch 18-year-old Tendulkar in full cry on his first tour here in 1991-92. The Don is said to have told his wife, Jessie: “Doesn’t he remind you of me when I was young?”

On that tour, Tendulkar scored the first two of his seven hundreds against Australia — an undefeated 148 in Sydney and 114 in Perth a month later.

In 1998, Tendulkar was flown to Adelaide as a special guest at a major celebration of Bradman’s 90th birthday. Though Bradman did not attend the function, he received and was photographed with Tendulkar at his home in Kensington Park in Adelaide.

It is said the two talked more about the evolution of the game than technique.

If left to statistics, Bradman will always stay way ahead. But it also needs to be borne in mind that Bradman in 20 years from 1928 played his 52 Test matches on just 10 grounds in eight cities in Australia and England for his 6,996 runs at an average of 99.94.

The 34-year-old Tendulkar is now in his 19th year as a Test player and his 141 Tests have been spread over 43 Test match grounds in 13 countries — taking into account the different nations in the Caribbean. Tendulkar has gone past Australian Allan Border in terms of total Test runs and is second only to Brian Lara. With 37 hundreds Tendulkar has an average of just under 55 runs an innings.

The paper mentions that the threat of Australian skipper Ricky Ponting taking over from Tendulkar as the best batsman in the world will also spur the Indian to greater heights on the upcoming tour.

Indo-Australian cricket celebrates its diamond anniversary this Australian summer and so there is a great contest in the offing.

Finally, the writer notes: “These days the Border-Gavaskar Trophy resonates with enthusiasts the world over. And such is the Indian diaspora that Tendulkar is assured of an emotional farewell from thousands of expatriates who will bring a special vibrancy to the series. And it is to be earnestly hoped the public will be just as loud in their praise of the modern master. For it is a privilege to see him play.”

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