The first thought that springs to mind as one sits down to express oneself on the debate on the Indian cricket team’s Most Valuable Player is simple: Should there be a debate at all? Is it not a given that Indian cricket’s little big man Sachin Tendulkar wears that crown with comfort, style, modesty and deservingly?
In the first place, connoisseurs and coaches alike would frown at the concept of a most valuable player in cricket since it is a team game and all players (and reserves as well as support staff) must contribute if a side is to do well. In their books, all players are equally valuable, with no one player being rated higher than the others.
Having said that, I believe too much is made of Tendulkar’s failures to the point of questioning his place in the side and if he can actually be given the MVP crown. Nothing can be more preposterous than that! Tendulkar will be Tendulkar, make no mistake, making rival captains and bowlers scratch their heads for a way past him.
Of course, men like Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag and Anil Kumble have had a good Test series against Australia but if you ask sides around the world, who is the single biggest thorn in their flesh, it is more likely than not that most will identify Tendulkar.
In some ways, Tendulkar is himself responsible for the debates that have cropped up recently. If expectations are pegged high, it is because he has raised them with his electrifying skills. These gifts have powered a whole nation and more and held it captivated in awe. For years, he has raised the bar – and kept on raising it. If he does not qualify to be the MVP, nobody can.
The beauty is in his giving vent to the unmatched skills he has been blessed with and at once fettering them too as he showed during the knock in Sydney when he made the highest score by an Indian in overseas Tests. It will not be unfair to say that the others are still discovering frontiers of their batsmanship.
The manner in which he runs for others is exemplary. Besides, men like Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag can only have gained immensely from watching him from less than 22 yards away and sharing partnerships with the man who has scored more than 22,000 runs including 32 hundreds in Tests and 36 in limited-over internationals.
If he fails with the bat, he contributes with the ball. I remember two Test matches in which he did not do much with the bat but turned the games India’s way with his bowling. In Kolkata in March 2001 as well as in Adelaide in December last, he picked up wickets that were critical to India’s victories over Australia.
If his contribution with the bat and ball are not enough, his role in the side as an inspirational genius can never be over-emphasised. I have watched several youngsters take a lesson or two from him and he has shared without any hesitation. There have been few players who have shown so much enthusiasm after giving up captaincy.
His inspiration doesn’t stop with the team but extends way beyond that. He touches lives like few others do. His performances have accorded him iconic status in the Indian society. It would not be wrong that just by being Sachin Tendulkar, he is Indian cricket’s most valuable player.
If after all this, you have any doubts, you just have to ask a certain Mr Dravid to find out who really the MVP of the Indian cricket team is. It will not be modesty alone that will make the Indian vice-captain name Sachin Tendulkar. His heart will swell and his eyes will light up with pride when he does that.
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