Every time I tell a sports lover that I am from India, 95% of the time I expect a reply like “Oh! Sachin’ country” and all I do is smile and feel proud to be an Indian. That is exactly where Sachin Tendulkar has brought Indian cricket to. He not only brought India to the world stage but helped them to achieve the status of one of the most powerful cricketing nations in the world.
So when on Decmber 23rd 2012, Board of Cricket Control of India announced on their website that Sachin Tendulkar has now retired from One-Day International cricket, the whole Cricketing world was left silent and in their own special way everyone must have stood up and gave a huge round of applause to arguably the most complete batsman of his time and the time to come.
“Sachin Tendulkar has often reminded me of a veteran army colonel who has many medals on his chest to show how he has conquered bowlers all over the world.”
Alan Donald, former South African pace bowler.
Down the years people will not only remember Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar for the 463 ODI matches that he played, or for the 49 centuries & 96 half centuries that he hit, or for the eighteen thousand odd runs that he hit during his 23-year long career, he shall also be remembered as a batsman who brought the stadium alive every time he walked on to the field with his bat tucked under his arm and head looking directly into the sky. He was a batsman who gave nightmares to Shane Warne, one of the most prolific wicket takers that the world has ever seen. He will be remembered as a role model every parent would want their cricketing son to follow, as a batsman who left his audience awestruck every time he played his classic straight drive. He will be remembered as a youngster who wanted to be a fast bowler but was rejected by then MRF pace academy chief Denis Lillee, to turn into the greatest batsman in the world.
“Beneath the helmet, under that unruly curly hair, inside the cranium, there is something we don't know, something beyond scientific measure. Something that allows him to soar, to roam a territory of sport that, forget us, even those who are gifted enough to play alongside him cannot even fathom. When he goes out to bat, people switch on their TV sets and switch off their lives.”
For the 23 years he has given to ODI cricket, there hasn’t been a single match where opponents hadn’t prepared a Sachin-specific game plan. In cricket worshiping country of India, he surely has to be the highest worshipped cricketing deity in the country. Sachin the batsman has always been there, but the world were lucky enough to also enjoy Sachin ‘the street-smart’ spin bowler who was always ready to pitch in few overs whenever his captain needed him. There would be very few present or retired cricketers who won’t rate Sachin in their top three batsmen ever to grace the 22 yards of cricket pitch.
“I had to remind Gary Kristen often that he was in the covers to field against Sachin not to applaud him.”
Hanse Cronje, former South African captain.
Sachin’ humbleness, his team-first attitude and his never say never attitude is what has helped him to achieve everything in his career. It is under him that present Indian cricketers like MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh have grown and were lucky enough to play along with ‘The Little Master’. As a fan of cricket, all we can do is hope that Sachin continues to play Test cricket for as long as possible as no cricket lover should be taken away from the happiness of watching Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar play.