It didn't come as a shock. It surely came as a surprise though. By "it", I don't mean Sachin Tendulkar's retirement. What I meant is his timing of retirement. Finally, after a considerable number of cricketing time (24 years to be precise), Tendulkar has called it quits after his 200th test match.
Personally, I am lucky to be born in the Tendulkar era. Cricket for me was at its peak when Sachin battered the sandstorm and pushed Indian into the finals in the desert of Sharjah. And then, if that wasn't enough, he pulled a master-stroke when we defeated the mighty Australians. I still remember that six Sachin hit off Shane Warne and the 'given up' look of Shane Warne post the six. Tong Greig was also going full throttle in the commentary box. "What a player! What a wonderful player" with a typical Tony Greig accent still rings in my mind.
|Image kind courtesy: www.hindu.com|
There was a phase when India was solely represented by Sachin Tendulkar (with all due respects to other players). Opponents' strategy was simple and was commonly used. Take Sachin's wicket early and taste victory. And we fans knew all about it. Hence, whenever Sachin lost his wicket, India as a country used to be most productive. Corporates would go back to work, those watching at home would literally switch off their TV sets. Families used to bond post Sachin's dismissal as there was nothing else left to do. Maybe even couples used to strengthen their personal relationships after Sachin's wicket. That's how powerful this guy was. Even the legendary Sir Donald Bradman recognized Sachin's talent. That's global recognition at its best!
His records speak for itself. I don't think there's anyone who questions his "talent". Cricket has moved from Test matches to one-dayers to T20. And this little guy has mastered it all! You name it - most runs, most matches, most centuries in tests, most centuries in one-dayers, even a century in a T20 game! This list just goes on! Not only records, this guy is one of the most humble cricketer you will ever see! No controversy (apart from the ball tampering incident - which was a genuine mistake), down to Earth, completely admired by colleagues and opponents. Oh, and not to mention, he is regarded as God in India. People fast for his success, people pray for his well being, mothers all around India treat him as their son, even some women who don't understand cricket loves to watch him bat. What else can you ask from a Cricketer?
When you have such a humongous fan following, there's bound to be criticism as well. Sachin, throughout his cricketing career was criticized for two things -
- He plays primarily for records, team comes second - We need to understand one thing. In simple terms, Cricket is about scoring more runs that your opposition. That's the only way you win. One way to do that is to ensure you fulfill your responsibilities as an opening batsmen and then play for your team. That's what Sachin did. I don't see anything worth blaming Sachin here.
- He is a great cricketer but not a great captain - I agree. And am sure Sachin agrees too. Even his captaincy record speaks of the same thing. Let's admit it. He was not a great captain. Not everyone can lead a team. Same can be said for Brian Lara. But does that make Lara less important to the team? Certainly not.
Sachin carried the entire team on his gentle yet powerful shoulders for most of his career. And towards the end, his team repaid him by winning everything that is there to win on a cricket pitch - 2011 ODI World Cup, IPL (twice) and now the 2013 Champions Trophy. Isn't this poetic justice?
A little guy came into our lives. He ensured we love him as much as we love our family. He represented us across the world. We lived our lives through his success. Maybe, this is not only a new phase for Sachin. This is equally a new phase for Cricket fans across the world. Maybe, its time we start living for ourselves!