Shalom cricket! Israel paper takes guard to track Tendulkar

FP

When the third test between India and England gets underway at the Eden Gardens from Wednesday, among the dispatches sent by foreign writers will be one in Hebrew by Ronen Dorfan, a sports columnist with the Israel Hayom in Tel Aviv.

Dorfan is in India to write about what he terms are the "last few innings of Sachin Tendulkar" for the right-wing newspaper. Although cricket is a marginal sport in Israel, Dorfan's posts on the Indian Premier League have been received with an increase in traffic on his blog by a small but dedicated cricket-following community comprising immigrant Jews from India, England and South Africa.

To put in perspective the readership for the sport in Israel, the columnist, who reported from Poland and Ukraine during Euro 2012 and the London Olympics, said he could count on his fingers the number of cricket stories he has written for mainstream papers in Israel.

"When I worked for the Haaretz, I wrote on the death of Pakistani coach Bob Woolmer, the India versus Pakistan match in Durban during the 2003 World Cup and the attack by gunmen on the Lankan team bus in Lahore. In all these instances cricket was part of the story but not the whole story and the same holds good in Tendulkar's case," Dorfan, who landed in Mumbai on Friday, said.

"This could be the last time Tendulkar plays a test innings at the Eden Gardens and with so much talk about his imminent retirement this is a story beyond cricket because he is a phenomenon," Dorfan said.

The 44-year-old first saw Tendulkar play in the Boxing Day test of 1999 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a match in which he made a century in the first innings. "Back then I was working in a sports technology firm in Melbourne so I had the opportunity to watch the game," Dorfan said. He has also watched Kapil Dev play in Bangalore but did not report then.

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