Cricket is Religion, Sachin is God, Arjun is Jesus

Sports

Cricket is Religion, Sachin is God, Arjun is Jesus

Illustration: Sushant Ahire/Arré

T

aking forward the hallowed Maharashtrian tradition of being a cricket chant, Arjun Tendulkar, son of cricketing deity Sachin Tendulkar, was recently named in the Under-19 team for the upcoming Sri Lanka tour, beginning next month.

That’s a brilliant feat by any standards and must definitely be lauded. However, the media frenzy around young Arjun is what has me worried. People have already begun speculating over a Team India debut for the baby-faced left-arm seamer, even though this seems to be the 18-year-old’s first big achievement since bowling to Virat Kohli in the nets. It also begs the question: Would either of these two events have attracted this much media coverage had someone else been in his place?

In the past too, cricketers’ offspring have unfairly attracted much speculation from “enthusiasts” of the gentleman’s game. This group mainly comprises pot-bellied, middle-aged men who have been hanging around the domestic cricket circuit since they had milk teeth, and currently possess the athletic ability of a slug. These enthusiasts can be seen on the sidelines, casually offering praise or admonishing young talent while soaking Marie biscuits in tea.

There are enough precedents for us to fear that we might be going down a familiar path with Arjun. Remember the time we collectively speculated over Rohan Gavaskar and how his career would play out on the international stage? In hindsight, this was immensely unfair on hapless Rohan, and it made us look just as delusional as a certain Eugenics professor.

Of course, much like Jesus, the moment he starts letting them down, he will be crucified.

A couple of decades later, not much has changed. Our expectations from second-generation stars — whether in sport or Bollywood — remain as unrealistic as ever. In fact, this misconception about star kids coming out of the womb with just as much talent as their parents, is the reason why so many talentless imports exist in Bollywood.

But cricket isn’t the same since you need actual talent to get ahead (thank God). Though the comparisons of Sachin Tendulkar with his son are rampant, Arjun has been dropped when out of form. I can only imagine the hysteria if the poor lad actually makes his debut for Team India. Prepare for familiarly tacky slogans like, “Cricket is our religion, Sachin is our god, Arjun is our Jesus.” Of course, much like Jesus, the moment he starts letting them down, he will be crucified.

Now is the time to wish the kid luck in his endeavour as a cricketer. If Baby Tendulkar possesses even half of Papa Sachin’s humble approach to fame, we have no reason to worry. Regardless of how his career pans out, by displaying an iota of talent early on in his career, Baby Tendulkar has already proved that he belongs in the industry — unlike a lot of other star kids we’ve had to suffer recently. In our books, he’s already our favourite star-son with the name Arjun.

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