Thanks to ABP Majha there is on YouTube a speech by the legendary Indian cricketing batsman, Sachin Tendulkar. Sadly I am unable to tell you when or where the speech was delivered, but it is clear that it is a speech of thanks upon his being honoured with the Order Of Australia. Whatever else anyone may say about the game of cricket, it surely is to its credit and that of its players that it fosters the sort of spirit that heaps honours upon distinguished opponents.
Our first glimpse of him in this video finds him adjusting the microphone. What a pity he did it wrong! Had he pointed it higher, perhaps at his eyes, we would have been spared the occasional popping.
How dare someone who is gifted with such gigantic sporting talent also be so naturally good at speaking! This speech is a delight.
He is slightly nervous at the beginning; and he understandably chooses to bust his hump with an effusive thankfest. At 0:38 he looks skywards as if to seek strength and inspiration, and then launches into an eminently appropriate theme – his association with Australia.
Not only does he shoot the whole thing from the hip, but he has enough inner confidence to be prepared to be seen to search for words, give pauses their full natural life and address his audience with the sort of conversational sincerity that is today’s style. It’s a beautiful piece of speaking, tailored perfectly for an occasion such as this.
All the best structures are simple. This one could not be simpler – it’s essentially autobiographical.
He tells a story about how he was invited to travel to Australia to be a special guest at the 90th birthday party of Sir Donald Bradman, perhaps the only batsman in history to be Tendulkar’s superior. The story has a punch line that draws a huge laugh from his audience; but, and you’ll have to trust me on this, it is not speaker-proof. If he’d miss-timed that punch line he would have killed the laugh.
I find myself pondering on something. I am of the school of opinion that says that a large percentage of someone’s talent consists of a fluid exuded from the brow. Tendulkar was born with a phenomenal natural ability to hit a ball, but he was not born doing it. The man worked hard to maximise his talent. Likewise he has a natural ability as a speaker, but he was not born doing that either.
How much of what we see in this speech is the result of study and work? It’s very difficult to tell … except he made that elementary mistake at the beginning with the microphone. It may be that he could suffer from the widespread problem of the Natural. For an explanation of what I mean, see Peter Schiff here. When he retires from serious cricket, he will remain a considerable celebrity, and obviously invited often to speak. If he relies too heavily on his natural ability he could come unstuck sometime. Anyone who has done that will confirm it to be a very unpleasant experience. I hope he takes the trouble to consolidate the skill.
P.S. Among other things, Tendulkar is one of the relatively few batsmen to have scored a hundred centuries in First Class cricket. This posting is the hundredth on this blog.
He received the honour 6/11/12. As a former captain he would have conducted regular press briefings and interviews so by now is very experienced at this sort of thing. I had the pleasure of watching his first Lords test many years ago; Jack Russell outshone him that day at Dicky Bird’s last test.