Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
My first encounter with this guy was 1996 ICC World Cup. I was 9, the right age to understand and indulge yourself entirely in cricket when you are an Indian kid. You have to have a role model, right? Somebody you can imitate when you are on the field; his shots, his antics, his celebrations. For me (and my friends), SRT was that person.
My father had a tradition which I keenly observed- he switched channels when Sachin got out. For them, the match was over. It was surprising considering how a game that had 11 players ended the moment first players had no more role to play. You wonder on these things and ask questions. He has the same answer- is team ki jaan bas yahi hai. (he is the pillar of this team)
In the coming years, he kept on scoring runs on the field and mesmerizing fans off the field. At that time, I was immature, young to understand what he really is, his stature and his persona. May be, then, Sachin was as unaware of all this like me. He was enjoying his cricket. At that moment, somewhere in late 1990’s, who would have thought that this little man, standing tall at 5’5’’ would be the reason behind the millions of smile, and tears.
Today, 15th November 2013, when he has probably played his last innings in Indian colors, I wonder how he was feeling. That pitch will be no more there for him to conquer. That bat won’t listen to his master’s voice anymore. For the ‘rest’ of the Indians, breaks in between work to watch Sachin bat will be the thing of the past. And there will be no more “Sachiiiiin, Sachiiiiiiiin”.
The DemiGod is now retiring and for the 24 years he was playing cricket, carrying the hopes of the entire nation on his shoulders (As Virat Kohli famously said after ICC World Cup 2011 final win at Mumbai), it is amazing how this little man kept his feet on earth throughout his career. He has been worshipped, adored, idoled, bragged by various individuals- he has been the same Sachin Tendulkar. How many out there would have lived the same life- surely the number will be very low.
Words elude me today. For a moment, I thought Sachin will bid good bye with a century. How wonderful a script that would be? But then, I realized- who could write the God’s script? He is the God himself. Without a doubt, I would have cherished his century. But I am happy. I saw his last innings. He was in the groove, played shots that had garnered millions of fans in last two decades. He might go over his decision to retire time and again but all good things should come to an end. Sachin’s cricket has.
And he walked his last walk to the dressing room. There won’t be any more. Applauses will be there but they will more of a formality than the passion, the respect. It’s not that a player has retired but an era has ended. Memories of 3 different generations are with him. And I am sure he will miss cricket and his fans as much as 120 crore Indians will. Out of 26 years of my life, 24 had been spent with him. Countless emotions, countless reasons to celebrate, to dance, to drink (I am not a saint)- asking for more will be unfair to this 40 year old legend.
I will leave you with some pictures collected from internet. I hope you have enjoyed your cricket with him as much as I had..
The Last One Bows Down
That Walk to the Stadium
His biggest fan had the largest grief today.