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200* – Sach an inspiration!

Oh no… not one more gushing Sachin-fan-turned-blogger!
20 years ago, a kid watched another kid playing cricket for his country on TV and thought, “I can probably bat better than that!”

That kid was me – and for those who are still confused, I refer to the kid doing the “watching”- and I discovered, very soon afterwards, that I was wrong… Fortunately for me, giving me elite company are several leading batsmen (and some bowlers too!) from the last two decades who have had the same silly thought cross their minds when they watched Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar bat. But right now, I’m just one among millions of ordinary cricket lovers, who have found themselves compelled to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards) by one spectacular ODI innings that could either inspire aspiring batsmen for decades or make them choose an alternative sport that has more achievable records. 200* has never been seen on an ODI scorecard before!

But I didn’t write this post to say “Cricket is religion, and Sachin is God”, since it has been said too many times before, including in this very sentence. I wrote this to express my observations on how Sachin has been an inspiration in ways unrelated to cricket or even sport. Some of you may not agree with what I infer, but this post is to share with you what has worked for me… and maybe, could work for you…

Sachin resigning as captain

The short period of time that Sachin spent as captain of the Indian ODI team, was not a glorious one, but he realised soon after, that he could continue to influence and inspire the rest of his team without being the designated number-one in the pecking order. What he did next, was to resign from captaincy, and put in a strong recommendation for Saurav Ganguly to be made captain. The rest is history!

This happened nearly a decade ago, coinciding with a phase in my career where I strongly believed (wrongly so!), that I had outgrown my job. I remember telling myself that as long as I can find ways to be better at my job, I cannot possibly outgrow it. I also remember telling myself that growth, performance, seniority and designation are unrelated to each other; one need not be the designated leader to be the best. Looking back, I think I was right… after watching Sachin’s epic innings, I’m sure I was right!

There is as much honour in leading by example as in leading by designation…

An older Sachin, but hungrier than ever

20 years, 608 international matches, 31045 runs, 93 hundreds, 147 fifties and still no signs of slowing down! He has stated repeatedly (I wonder why they keep asking, though!) that he still feels as enthusiastic about the game as he did when he was a kid, and that’s what keeps him going. The one thing his modesty keeps him from saying, is that he still doesn’t have to worry about being selected, since he keeps performing consistently, and exceeds the back-breaking expectations of a billion fans most days that he plays!

Let me emphasize my point by leaving you with two facts to chew on…

The youngest member of the current Indian squad was 11 months old when Sachin faced his first ball in International Cricket!

India’s main strike bowler in the current series has 130 wickets in ODIs, Sachin has 154!

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been playing the game, don’t quit as long as you continue to enjoy it… just make sure you stay among the best!

5’5” in height… taller than most in stature!

I think his longevity is a result of prodigious talent, a passion for excellence and childish enthusiasm, and a hunger to keep playing. Now, you might say prodigious talent is not a gift all of us have, but the other factors are not difficult to cultivate… and all this counts for nothing, if it weren’t for the secret ingredient – humility, a rare commodity among sporting stars! Watching him in the post-match presentation walk back and forth four times to carry back the various medals/trophies/cheques/silver bats he was awarded, was a little funny. But when he was given the mike, he had a great opportunity to publicly vindicate himself by mocking the detractors and retirement-predictors that have plagued him for a few years now. Among those were a certain pair of Chappell’s (pun intended!), who had earned enough infamy for their family three decades ago, decided to earn some more, one of them by questioning Sachin’s attitude to the game, and the other by calling on him to retire. But when his time came to speak, all he did was to thank his fans for standing behind him in tough times, and admitting that he made mistakes as a batsman. That little speech reminded a lot of us why it’s called the “Gentleman’s Game”!

It is possible to be great at your work and still have fun doing it; the trick is to keep your head on your shoulders and your feet on the ground!

Opting out of the T20 World Cup… Cowardice… or wisdom?

There are times when a decision may seem to be completely inexplicable, and may have extraordinarily brilliant results. Sachin’s decision (along with Saurav and Rahul) to opt out of the T20 World Cup in 2007 was initially slammed as a cowardly decision, but how can you find fault with something that eventually led to the first world cup after 1983, as well as one of the most successful captains in world cricket today? Couple this with Sachin’s decision to relinquish captaincy to Saurav Ganguly in 2000, and we got the most accomplished Test Captain India ever had!

There is a lesson there too… Yes, it is important to lead from the front when you can; it is even more important and heroic to step out of the way of a more capable leader, when the situation demands it. Everyone may not understand then, but they do get it eventually.

Know when you’re the right one for the job, but more importantly, when you’re not!

And so much more…

Sachin Tendulkar is as human as the rest of us, he has also been the subject of a lot of criticism; a lot is spoken about how money is as important to him as cricket. But the man’s got a duty to his family as much as to his fans, why grudge somebody his livelihood? A Senile political leader (this time, pun not intended!) recently questioned Sachin’s commitment to his home state… this time, unlike the Greg Chappell comments, he decided not to react, and the entire country did instead! I don’t think anybody in the world has had a billion people tell him to shut up all at once, but this “leader” did! And it was such a tidal wave of support for Sachin that uncharacteristically for the “leader”, he promptly let go of SRT, but through force of habit immediately found a certain SRK’s backside to clamp his dentures on! But I detract, this isn’t about him…

I guess one of the things that appeals to people of all kinds around the world about Sachin is that he probably inspires a lot more people subconsciously than one could imagine, not all of them batsmen, not even cricketers.

I could go on… but this is a blog and not a book, so I’ll leave only these many of my thoughts with you… that is, if you’re still awake!

Maybe you could add to this with your own thoughts and make it a series of blogs. You know, if 200 runs by one man in a one day international are possible, anything’s possible!

Now if only he would oblige us with a Test 300…  and a hundred hundreds!

Pariotism?

This was meant to be a comment to Jithesh’s blog, but it ended up so long, I decided to turn it into a blog post… this also is the first time I have blogged extempore!

On my earlier question in a comment to the last blog, I asked readers what they would think if they saw somebody burning the Indian National Flag. The intention behind the question was to ignite a thought process that I went through myself… how much do we know about the Tricolor?

The Flag Code of India expresses a preference for disposing of the national flag through the process of burning… if I hadn’t read that, I would consider it disrespectful to burn the tricolor, I’m sure most of you would feel the same way…

When I first saw the photograph, my mind went through the usual “Insult to National Pride” emotional trip, but I decided to place my judgment and emotions in cold storage until I learned more about it, and I did…

Thanks to Jithesh’s blog, I learned more about the Indian National Flag in one day than I have in my entire life. I read about the Flag Code, the Naveen Jindal case, which legally endorsed the right of every Indian citizen to fly the Indian Flag, I read about it’s origins and the whole process was humbling… I ended my brief study feeling angry and disappointed at myself for not knowing an iota of what I read, before I read it.

But apart from all the enlightenment, two facts shone through…

One, was the fact that in the photograph in question, no law was broken and the only violation of the Flag Code was the fact that the flag is dipped at a downward angle…If you think I’m justifying the act, read on…

The second realization was connected to something I have always done in my adult life, but never completely understood why, until today, that is: I have never bought one of these miniature paper/plastic/fabric toy flags that are sold on every street/store around Independence/Republic Day commonly used as an excuse to assuage the guilt we feel in the patriotic parts of our collective conscience during the remaining 363 unpatriotic days of the year. What has that got to do with disrespecting the flag? Allow me to explain…

Let’s for a moment, hypothesize that at the cost of that miniature flag (maybe 10 bucks), I would be able to buy one of my dream cars(Ridiculous? I know, but humor me while I make my point :-)), and I know fully well that I would not have a place to park it safely, in the pristine condition that it deserves to be kept in, and maybe not even afford to drive it with the respect it deserves?

Should I still buy it? Perhaps not…

Will I still buy it? Hell, yes I will… at 10 bucks, who wouldn’t?

If I get one day (or even 5 minutes!) to drive around in a McLaren SLR, it’s worth a lot more than 10 bucks, isn’t it? The National Flag is a symbol of National Pride. Why do we buy it if we cannot give it the complete unconditional respect that it deserves, even in disposal? How many of the people who have bought the millions of flags sold on our streets for two days in a year even remember what happened to those flags after those two days had passed? Now, all of us know about one of those flags and one of us was perhaps unfortunate enough to have been reminded of the sin by the photograph… what about the rest? I don’t intend to come across as preachy or “Holier than thou” here, but I never buy a flag, simply because personally, I don’t think I can give it the respect that our soldiers do when they give their lives up for it… For heaven’s sake, it took me all of 32 years, 5 months and 15 days to discover how to “respectfully dispose” of my National Flag! I realized today that I am as guilty of disrespecting the Indian National Flag as the person who left it in the spot captured by the photograph in the previous blog.

Borrowing a theme from Viren’s comment earlier, I leave you with several questions… feel free to discuss your thoughts on them.

How many people in the country refuse to stand in a movie theater when the National Anthem is played?

How many people who stand in that movie theater also stand when they hear the national anthem playing on TV, when they watch the Independence Day or the Republic Day ceremony?

How many of us agree with, and resent the notion that the National Anthem is forced on us in movie theaters by politicians in an obvious attempt to “Educate us”?

How different is forcing these “patriotic” norms on us, from the “religious” norms that several fundamentalist cultures force on their citizens?

Are our opinions about enforced patriotism different from our opinions on religious fundamentalism? If so, why?

Do you think, now, that you are as guilty of disrespecting the National Flag as I am, along with the person who was responsible for the scene in Jithesh’s photograph?

Intuition or Logic?

With the incredible response to the management initiative of driving the direction of Dexler through a unique form of crowdsourcing, I am immensely optimistic of the intelligence that we will be able to collect by consolidating inputs contributed by the entire Dexler community. It has been interesting and inspiring to observe the conversations on the blog and off it, driven by Anand’s posts earlier, especially “Adventures of a bank teller” and other short stories! I noticed that we have a serious talent for engaging in healthy, objective debate, which is very encouraging; except that I hope a lot more of us bring our opinions out in the form of comments as this blog evolves.

After a lot of hesitation on what the subject of my first post should be, the choice came to me rather impulsively, driven by an interesting lunch-time debate that happened today. I thought it would be interesting to see reactions from a lot more people on this, and I’m sure a lot of you will be surprised at your own reactions to a simple question:

 

“What leads to better decision making – Intuition or Logic?”

The interesting part about this question is not an individual’s answer, which in itself would probably be a bit ambiguous, most of us would probably “play safe” and say, “A healthy blend of both”, or something equally diplomatic. The interesting part is that very often, when we are convinced that we are applying healthy objective logic in trying to solve a problem, we are not! Let me make my point with some evidence and introduce you to Monty Hall, a popular game show host on the show “Let’s make a Deal”. He made a living by showing contestants three doors, two of which had goats behind them, and one with a spanking new car behind it, and asking them to choose one. Once the contestant chose a door, Monty would then proceed to open one of the other two doors, inevitably revealing a goat. He would then pose the contestant a question,

 

“Do you want to keep your choice or change it?”

 

Now, I want you to put yourself in the contestant’s shoes. What would you do? Is it in your advantage to keep your choice or to switch it to the other unopened door? I am going to resist the temptation of making this blog longer by trying to explain this situation through statistics and probability. I want you to try this for yourself and determine if, when you thought you were using logic to answer this question, you were really being logical or not. When you thought you were guessing, were you really guessing?

After you perform this experiment, I would love to hear your comments on what you thought of the outcome… you can try this at the “Monty Hall Problem” page.

Tell us what you think!

Resurrection… the Phoenix rises again from the ashes…

This post marks my re-entry into the blogosphere after 4 years of blogger’s block.

Yippee! I’m so excited I think I won’t blog for a couple more years…  Just kidding!

The last comment on my last blog… (someday, when I have more courage, I will reveal it, if it’s still there 😉 )

Sorry, I lost focus there… well it’s 1 AM, whaddaya expect… well, there I go again… ok… Focus now.. FOCUS… now where was I? Yep, I was saying that the last comment on my last blog was someone saying… they expect me to rise from the ashes, like the Phoenix! Ashes, I don’t know, but I’m back… from the hole I’d dug myself into.

And I’ll be here the moment I have something new to say, however worthless it might be… heh heh, this time it’s my website, so I can pretty much get away with anything, right? We’ll see…