Bengaluru, July 31: Prithvi Shaw was being dubbed as India's next Sachin Tendulkar. Having dominated whatever tournament he played at home from the word go, the teenager batsman also made a sensational international debut last year by slamming a Test hundred against the West Indies at home.
Before that, he also led India to an Under-19 World Cup title in New Zealand in 2018. The expectations were high till Shaw hit a wall on July 30, 2019.
The opening batsman found himself suspended till November 15 as part of a back-dated eight-month ban which was imposed from March. As per the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) , he had "inadvertently ingested a prohibited substance, which can be commonly found in cough syrups".
This will mean Shaw will remain out of the reckoning for the twin home series against South Africa and Bangladesh. He hasn't been picked for the tour of the West Indies starting next month because of a hip injury and also missed the historic Test series in Australia last year by sustaining an ankle injury on the eve of the first match in Adelaide. After a promising start, it seems Shaw is down in the dumps.
The BCCI though was "satisfied" with Shaw's explanation that he had taken the substance to treat a respiratory tract infection and not to enhance his performance, he still was slapped with the suspension and that certainly doesn't augur well for a man on whom the cricketing fraternity had pinned a large hope.
Even during the tour of Australia, there were rumours that Shaw did not give much priority to fitness. He even had a couple of sittings with the great Sachin Tendulkar where the two supposedly talked over dealing with fame at a premature age.
Tendulkar himself had made his international debut at 16 and went on to play for 24 years for the country with not a single controversy surfacing in his massive career.
It's definitely a far more challenging task today for youngsters to keep focus compared to what it was during Tendulkar's times. But yet one cannot take it away from Tendulkar when it comes to durability. And that durability doesn't come just by making runs at a young age.
There is a sense of injustice meted out to Shaw when he is compared to Tendulkar. Even before he played the Test series against Australia, there were talks that he would replicate Tendulkar of the 1991-92 series Down Under. The comparison came more because of the age but greatness is something that is not restricted to age only. It's about evolution and tenacity and Shaw should be compared to Tendulkar only when he shows that over a period of time and not just after he plays a series or two.
It is far more difficult to become another Tendulkar (leave alone the runs, even the feat of playing for 24 years for the country) but that much easier to end up as a Vinod Kambli. The former left-handed batsman was once seen to be more talented than his school mate after he slammed two back-to-back double centuries against England and Zimbabwe in the early 1990s but then it was all over. Tendulkar remained the legendary tortoise that eventually won the race.
The likes of Shaw and others need to master more than just the cricketing skills in their formative years if they even wish to match Tendulkar. It's a long, long way to survive and Twenty20 pyro-technique doesn't help to last the distance.