Farewell to the Little Master Blaster

Sachin Tendulkar will play his 200th and final test match tomorrow. That sentence may mean absolutely nothing to you. But then you can consider yourself in a minority, and should read on. When tickets went up online to watch this greatest of all Indian batsman’s swan song, the selling website received 19 million hits within the first hour. NINETEEN MIILLION people inquired after tickets. The ground doesn’t hold that many.

I saw Tendulkar bat 6 or 7 times and, true to form, never saw him make more than 45. I think I'm his jinx. Perhaps the England team should have taken me with him to India every time they went on tour ? God knows I've written and asked them enough.

I saw Tendulkar bat 6 or 7 times (that’s me, 5th from left, the tall Indian bloke with the moustache) and, true to form, never saw him make more than 45. I think I’m his jinx. Perhaps the England team should have taken me with him to India every time they went on tour ? God knows I’ve written and asked them enough.

Whether we like it or not, Indian Cricket— and its governing body, the much-loved, virtuous, high-minded and incorruptible BCCI— is the driving force of the world game. The numbers just stack up against all else: Revenue and fan base for starters make other nations’ figures dwindle into insignificance. It’s difficult to put an exact figure on the audience in the sub-continent, but if you said 800 million people watch the game, you wouldn’t be a million miles away.

If the Poms and the Aussies think the world is anxiously awaiting another in a rather irritating extended run of Ashes Test matches, they might think again. The cricketing world at large is on the edge of its seat expectantly anticipating the last walk to the crease by this little man on his home ground in Mubai, desperate for him to do well.

In a nation increasingly force-fed the monotony & banality of Twenty20 Franchise Tournaments, served up on dirt-brown platters of lifeless wickets, it is somehow refreshing to know there is still interest in the longer form of the game — even if it is a one-off to recognise one of the greats. And while an ever-growing number of our sporting idols are being exposed as at best, cynics, at worst cheats, it’s been great to watch this man go about his business, not just brilliantly, but honestly, humbly and often with a smile on his face.

And as India is a country obsessed with stats, and cricket is a game which thrives off them, it’s worth having a quick butchers at a few numbers and quotes surrounding Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar:1-650_042312063322

Height : 5ft 5″ (1.65 metres)

Test Debut (vrs Pakistan) 1989, Karachi

In his debut first-class match for Bombay in the 1988/89 season, he scored 100 not-out aged 15 years 232 days

England Coach Andy Flower: “There are 2 kind of batsmen in the world. 1: Sachin Tendulkar. 2: all the others.”

Holds the record for scoring 1,000 One Day International runs in a calendar year, having done it six times, in 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2003

Shane Warne: “Sachin Tendulkar is, in my time, the best player without a doubt — daylight 2nd, Brian Lara 3rd.”

18,426 runs and 49 hundreds in ODIs

Test Best: 248 not out, which he made against Australia in 2004 at Sydney.

First batsman to hit a double-century in ODI cricket as he scored an unbeaten 200 against South Africa in Gwailor, February 2010.

199* Tests at 53.72 runs per innings.

President Barack Obama “I don’t know about cricket but still I watch cricket to see Sachin play. Not because I love his play but because I want to know the reason why my country’s production goes down by 5 per cent when he’s in batting.”

Numbers of fellow pros who have a bad word to say about him: 0

Numbers of fellow pros who have a bad word to say about him: 0

Turd Polishing**

Ah yes: Exam Results. I remember them. For some reason whenever I see on the news that today’s the day when the exam results come through, I get a chill running through my bones. I feel nauseous. The very water inside me somehow wants to get out.

Perhaps this is because it brings back memories of when I received an envelope containing my results all those years ago ? Perhaps not. It wasn’t all bad (honest) I scraped in here, and got by there. Could have been a lot worse (the teachers at school certainly predicted so). No it’s not those memories which irk me. It’s something rather more recent. Something that’s still taking place. It’s the “jumping for joy photos”.

Stick your head out of the window, listen hard and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to hear the unmistakable sound of a photographer near you organising a staggeringly unimaginative photo.

“Ok if you could spread yourself out in a line towards me… no, no, can we have the two blonde young ladies in the middle… yes, much better… now, on the count of three, could you all jump up, punch  the air and cheer ? … especially you girls… thanks very much….right here we go…one…two…three….SNAP…CLICK…SNAP…”

It happens every year (twice in the UK), and it’s happening today with the announcement of today’s A-Level results.

And it’s not necessarily the fault of the photographer. Would you believe that, in this day in age, there are national newspaper and agency picture editors who actually commission such dross ? They do, I promise you. And why ? Because above them are Chief Subs, Features Editors and other assorted numpties who deal in crap and clichés. But don’t take my word for it. Buy a paper tomorrow (any one should do) and look for yourselves. If you can’t wait, switch on TV Regional News this evening (“Local Man bit by Local Dog, Locally“). They’ll be down at their local High School or Academy filming young men and women, crying with/jumping for joy (delete where applicable).

Such imagination.

Here’s another. It’s gonna be hot this weekend. Some at the Met Office are predicting up to 30 degrees over the south of England. Queue the hot weather picture:

L-R: The Times, Indie,Guardian;               Tabloids+Telegraph;                            All of them

You can bet your left testicle (or whatever you have to hand) that you’ll find a version of the above tomorrow in your favourite rag. If I had a penny for every time someone submitted a photo of boys diving into the sea/pond/canal/fountain once the temperatures reach 28 degrees, I’d have £17.43.


But the photographers don’t get off Scot free. After all, they take the snap, they ping it in to the picture desk and some berk uses it. Ca-Ching! Why on earth do you think that we’ve seen this pose endlessly over the last few weeks ?

No. Serena’s not biting that medal because she’s hungry (again), but because there’s an unwritten law amongst sports snappers which tells them that’s what Gold Medallists do.  And you know what ? – the pictures go in the paper. They get in the linen, as we used to say. (oh, and by the way, don’t think that this dreadful state of affairs will finish with the death of newspapers. Online Photo Eds and Snappers – oh, ok Monkeys – are just as (un)imaginative as are the paper ones.)

But don’t let it worry you. If you have been lucky in life and never had to listen and watch a back bench fuck-up your picture selection, you will remain unscathed by all this. I’m sure you probably think my head is about to pop off again, driven by dark memories of no-nothing subs and myopic designers ? You may or may not be correct.

I shan’t go on. Just to say, the next time you see Obama do this…

…don’t think that he’s seen someone in the crowd he recognise, it’s just that someone (probably a press officer) once told him that photos of Pointing Politicians get in the linen too. He’s not alone. They all do it. Just watch them all getting off a plane pointing; Take the applause of the crowd, pointing; Arrive in Brussels POINTING. Watch out for Barack when he wins the election. He’ll be jumping for joy.

**”You Can’t Polish a Turd, Mike”…Telegraph Photographer Roy Letkey on being asked by me how his photos were from a terribly thought-out photo shoot.

You’re Going Home in a Flipping Ambulance

Our Special Correspondent writes…
It can’t only be me who wondered what David Cameron was punching (or was it paunching) the air about in his dress down Turnbull & Asser alongside a young,smiling Morgan Freeman and several glum Eurocrats.
Upon further inspection,it seems the Acropolis Co-op cheque conference came to a halt as Dave’s beloved Chelsea won on Saturday. Now,of course our Dave could hardly support any other team,could he? What with his old mate the cossack yachtsman at the helm.
Apparently it was during one of the time out’s that coach Obama had called that Dave, not being able to watch,even through his caviar smeared fingers,was summoned swiftly back to the lounge bar where the footie was on.
Yessssss!! Come on you blues. Back of ones net my son!
Now,I know he’s down with the people and not a toff at all really,so he – also apparently – says “we don’t normally win a penalty shoot out against the Germans at home” What!!? Who’s he talking about. In one smooth manouevre he’s slipped into jingoese. It’s now a matter of national pride.How Blighty has given Fritz some of his own medicine. Don’t mess with us.
Light up another lardy and stroll enigmatically round the rose garden at Chartwell.Dictate another page of the memoirs. Angela was heard to splutter a “scheissen” that didn’t need trouble the translator. Damn those pesky Tommies.That Dunkirk spirit has done it again.
Hold on though. This wasn’t the bloody England team.This was a ridiculously overpaid collection of disparate foreigners,who got a win bonus bigger than my (and your) pension.
You prat Dave.
David Rapley,
The Saloon Bar
The Old Mill Hotel & Lodge
Back to you in the studio

Foregone Conclusions.

It was a shock to wake up this morning (no changes there, then). No, I mean to say it was a shock to wake up this morning and discover Vlad the Putin had swept to an election victory in Russia, and once again the great man sits on the throne of the third biggest power in the world, after USA and FIFA. If only Barack Obama could be so sure of victory in this year’s election, but I guess there is no Jeb Obama resident in Florida who could steal the vote for him, so he’ll just have to trust  Minty Metro, the Republican Tool-of-Choice, to win it for him. Which he surely will ?

FIFA, of course have long-since had elections far more corrupt than that of either the Soviet Union or The Russian Federation, so we can expect Herr Blatter to remain in his position til he has accrued enough cash to be able to retire and hand over the reins to the Crook-in-Waiting, Michel Platini. Then, of course, we can all sit back and wait for Mad Michel to launch a series of decrees even more self-serving and dictatorial than his predecessor, Sepp the Swiss Soccer Swindler.

Who do I let these people get to me ?

Anyway, just to show that it’s not what you take out of life, it’s what you Putin, take a look on another on a theme. It’s quite fun, and includes a guest appearance from my old employer TIME, formerly of this parish.

That Special Relationship

Gordon Brown (texture like sun) will have plenty to watch when he finally gets the push, thanks to his trip to visit his new mate, President Obama. GB gives BO an ornamental pen holder and a First Edition, BO returns the favour with a DVD box-set of “Classic” American movies. Wowee!! Ever turned up to a party with a pallet of Stella and a case of poo, then the host shoves them under the stairs and hands you a warm can of Kestrel? Seems like the Special Relationship is going through a bad patch. That’ll teach Gordon to back Hillary for the Presidency. It was a fair call at the time. Downing Street hadn’t expected her to Devon Lock up the home straight. Oh well, let’s hope Brown enjoys X-Men. Cos I suspect he’s about to become one.
It just goes to show you how important relationships are. Brown obviously thinks so. My buttocks have yet to unclench themselves after having watched Gordon whore himself in front of the Senate this week.
Perhaps Gordon will have to chummy up to Europe instead. It shouldn’t be so hard. He and Angela Merkel seem to share the same blind tailor, and he and Sarkozy are both nervous, twitchy types. Gordon gets over it by biting his nails down to his elbows, Sarko by drinking his own body-weight in alcohol. There’s something quite appealing about the blossoming relationship between a fat, bumbling, British oaf and a rather classy, attractive, French pissoir-artiste.