Why the world loves Sachin Tendulkar

Tags: Op-ed
Why the world loves Sachin Tendulkar
LAST HURRAH: Tendulkar walks off the field after his dismissal on Day 2 of the final Test match against West Indies, also his 200th and last Test match, at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on November 15
Nothing is given to man on earth — struggle is built into the nature of life, and conflict is possible — the hero is the man who lets no obstacle prevent him from pursuing the values he has chosen.

— Andrew Bernstein

There have been many sporting legends in the world, yet the kind of love and adulation that Sachin Tendulkar enjoys is unparalleled. Sachin is a global phenomenon that god has blessed this world with. There are generations of us who are fortunate to have lived and witnessed his game and his persona.

There are various lessons to learn from him, and one can go on endlessly, but I will confine myself to a few. I have always believed in the power of dreams. In the words of James Allen, “Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day is; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.” This is so true of Sachin, his father and his brother who believed in him and helped him nurture his dream. Very few figure out the purpose of their existence quite early in their lives. Sachin figured out that he would be playing cricket for the country while he was in the fourth grade. Thus began the passionate pursuit of records which made him an unbeatable phenomenon. Sometimes so many lives fail into oblivion because they are either themselves afraid to dream or lack support and faith of others around them.

But then again, as Colin Powell said, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. “ For this, I salute Sachin as he never let complacency set in. Even after playing against so many players under diverse circumstances, Sachin would always practice and prepare for all his matches. In his own words, “Whatever level you reach, getting better never stops”.

Former South Africa opener Gary Kirsten, who played alongside Tendulkar and then coached him and team India to World Cup glory in 2011, said his rigorous training and practice sessions before every match were the key. Whilst many might be willing to compromise a little after some success, Sachin would become more ruthless and prepare even harder for the next game. He played for the love of the game and not for results or breaking records. You see any of his interviews and you can see his eyes sparkle with fire when he talks about cricket. That kind of passion, coupled with skill and hard, work cannot fail to culminate into success.

In his farewell speech, Sachin spoke about his father who told him to “chase your dreams, but make sure you do not find shortcuts. The path might be difficult, but don’t give up.” In true spirit and form, Sachin has followed this diktat. Even in the face of immense difficulty, he would never give up. His resilience has been beyond comparison. From painful tennis elbow to excruciating back pain, Sachin has had his fair share of injuries. But that did not stop him from becoming a legend. Overcoming hurdles by bouncing back is something we need to learn from him. At the age of 16, Sachin played his first international match against Pakistan in Karachi in 1989. Who can forget that he emerged with a bloody nose from a bouncer, and walked up to Sidhu and said, “main khelega”? He made 57 runs that helped save the match that day. The “don’t quit” attitude is epitomised by Sachin.

However, Sachin’s persona eclipses all of the above. With whatever success we may have achieved in our personal and professional lives, we cannot imagine how Sachin thinks or feels as he has reached a place that no one else has reached. That is a zone that none of us can even imagine. He continues to live his life based on values and principles. He had refused to do an advertisement with a liquor company a few years ago as he had committed to his father that he would not either endorse a brand which sells cigarettes or liquor. In very simple words, Sachin is a good man. For a person who has achieved so much in life, his humility is astounding. Despite stupendous success, he has managed to achieve balance in life as an individual, while people with inflated egos and false perceptions surround us.

Misuse of position and power is rampant. Sachin comes across as a breath of fresh air. I completely admire his sense of righteousness and propriety. Sachin does not brag or use platitudes. Whether it was his press conference after retirement or his farewell speech, he spoke from the heart. His honestly and sincerity is endearing. There is nothing artificial about him. He has had an unblemished, uncontroversial and exemplary professional career of 24 years. He is a man who has never forgotten his roots. Even in the moment of peak emotion, Sachin ensured that he went back and paid his respects to the 22 yards — the pitch where he played and fulfilled his dream and his destiny.

While I am a devoted fan of Sachin — the cricketer, I bow my head in respect and admiration to Sachin — the man who represents values that people would want to remember and emulate. He is a lesson to a country which is struggling today with a governance deficit, a true role model. As Christopher Reeve said, “What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power”.

(The writer is CEO of KPMG India)

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