GOD SAYS GOODBYE
Oct 10 2013
Cricket’s biggest little master rests his golden bat
that had preceded his arrival in Assam was in any way exaggerated.
Tendulkar went on to record a century on Duleep Trophy debut, scoring 159 against East Zone over two days at the crease. But what remains is the memory of the curly-haired 18-year-old racing to the nets after having batted for more than three hours already -- and then practising without even having taken a break -- till it grew too dark to see the ball any longer.
In the 22 years since, till the announcement of his retirement from all forms of cricket came along on Thursday, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has cemented his legend. The records speak for themselves. Most Test matches and runs: 198. and 15,837. Most one-day internationals and runs: 463 and 18,426. A ton of international hundreds (51 in Tests, 49 in ODIs), 50,000 runs in all forms of the game. It is a long and glittering list.
And yet, those are just the statistics that accompany the man and his extraordinarily long career. For Tendulkar was always more than the sum of his parts.
The Master Blaster came to prominence at a time India was in straitened circumstances. The economy was staggering in the last 1980s, and even though the turnaround began in 1991 just as he was coming into his pomp, his countrymen had more grief than glee on their plate. It was a time heroes and big deeds were desperately needed.
Tendullkar's achievements in those dark days more often than not, lifted the national mood, a trait that continues to this day. No Tendulkar innings of significance -- and there have been plenty -- goes unnoticed or without celebration, for it brings along a feeling of achievement and a sense of reflected glory.
It was this trait that helped also the sport emerged from under the cloud of match-fixing, which had spread through Indian cricket in the early years of the new century. Given his stature, Tendulkar's presence helped enormously in bringing back respectability and credibility to the game. Yet, for all that, he remains a private, and humble, individual.
“All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India. I have been living this dream every day for the last 24 years,” the 40-year-old said in a statement issued on his behalf by the Board of Control for Cricket in India on Thursday. “It’s hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because it’s all I have ever done since I was 11 years old.”
"It’s been a huge honour to have represented my country and played all over the world. I look forward to playing my 200th Test match on home soil, as I call it a day,” Tendulkar, who has already retired from one-day internationals, added.
And as he prepares to walk away from the game, appropriately enough on a December day, he will leave behind a void that will never quite be filled, but one that will be celebrated for a very long time indeed.
(The writer is Sports Editor, Asian Age)