Amritbani: The bar keeps on rising

New Delhi:

Yelena Isinbayeva, despite her 17 pole vault records, remains way behind Sergei Bubka who improved the world mark a record 35 times. But like him she raises the bar carefully, her sight focused on the record, and the substantial commercial windfall each higher jump brings.

Even in cricket records are set and shattered, but in a less dramatic manner. As more games are played (and new rivalries created like Asia XI versus Africa XI) old records tumble, established milestones are over run, new mountains are scaled. Earlier there was only one Everest, now new and higher statistical peaks are manufactured every day — and then humbled. Just think. At one time Fred Truman was the big dada, his 307 appeared unattainable but many bowlers have raced past that. Shane Warne is almost twice that (despite distractions and a spicy lifestyle that demands a delicate balance between sex and spin) and Muralitharan (off-spinner who bowls a googly more vicious than Warne) talking modestly of 700.

Wasim Akram bagged 900 international wickets, McGrath has topped 500, Kumble is not much behind. When Kapil reached 434 a bout of national rejoicing erupted but Kumble crept to that number almost unnoticed and if he plays as long as Paaji 600 is a realistic target.

Batting records are also junked regularly. At one stage SMG was both Tenzing and Hillary, the first to 10,000. Later, others got there and if SRT keeps his body together he could top 15,000. This Master Blaster is a Master Destroyer, has already amassed 25,000 international runs and 75 hundreds leaving his colleagues and competitors far, far behind. He is a marathon runner already five kilometres ahead of the guy immediately behind. Records will continue to fall, as seasoned politicians do in an election, but some are likely to defy defeat.

It is unthinkable that anyone approaches Bradman, his Test average of 99.96 unthreatened by any living batsman.

No current player is remotely close to Gary Sobers’ astonishing all-round record, and it will take a lot of doing to surpass Shahid Afridi’s 37 ball assault to reach a one-day hundred.

While each new record is spectacular, and irrefutable proof of the brilliance of the performer, one has the feeling that it is a temporary accomplishment; some superior feat is just round the corner. In music, remixes hold interest for a while whereas pure melody endures much longer; in cricket, what ultimately counts is class and quality, stats are little more than an interesting diversion. Aussie great Shane Warne may not take another Test wicket but nobody

disputes his amazing artistry. Lara’s genius is confirmed by his fluid and fearless strokeplay.

Inzaman will always be remembered for his incredible cool, Dravid admired for determination and discipline. Players will always strive to improve, coaches will never stop talking of reaching the next level. But history has a way of making its own judgement, based on hard evidence not merely on stats.

Amrit Mathur is the Media Manager at BCCI