A Tribute to the Cricketing Legend

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To Brian Lara, he is a “genius.” Matthew Hayden called him “a phenomenon.” The cricketing world often compared him with Australian legend Don Bradman. His billions of fans refer to him as “legend”, “God.” Ever since he started his international career as a precocious 16 year old against Pakistan, he’s never been out of the spotlight. The bonfire of Indian Cricket has now announced his retirement. Sachin Tendulkar, the man who lived his dream for 24 years has called it quits (on October 10). Waves of shock and torrents of tributes passed over as India’s truest talent has decided to end his longest innings.

Cricket is now a franchise-frenzy entertainment, but when you conjure up the images of golden age of Cricket, Tendulkar’s classical batsmanship will emerge as the first one. Every generation needs someone to identify themselves with. For our generation, it’s Tendulkar. When everyone jumped around me with joy, back in the 1996 World Cup, I inquired what the fuss is about. I didn’t know anything about the game. Now, after two decades of watching Tendulkar, he has showered us with many blissful moments. The exquisite straight drive, the 96 world cup, the 98 Australian tour (thrashing Warne), bashing Australian bowling line-up in the Sharjah match, the Centurion 2003 world cup match against Pakistan are few of the vivid memories that will forever be etched in the minds of his billion fans.

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I am amazed at his discipline – on and off field. He has never been in any major controversy and has never shown abrasive behavior. Tendulkar has an outlook of wanting to grow from scratch even after achieving the greatness threshold. Each of the 34,273 runs was made with greater passion. The word ‘passion’ might seem grand and magnificent. But, it has its pitfalls. Passion can wither away without discipline. When his fellow players are waltzing in the pub, he would spend the time in nets. That’s the kind of discipline, which made him to do incremental improvement over the years. I think Tendulkar is the first cricket player, to combine the classic batting techniques with the raw aggressive proficiencies of ODI or T20. The incredibly modest man also had some of the most lucrative sports contracts in the world.

There were many occasions when media and people questioned Sachin’s integrity. But he has remained resilient and felt responsible for the team’s failures. In the final of 2003 World Cup, Sachin got out early from a short pitch delivery, bowled by McGrath. India lost, but he won the “Man of the Tournament” award. Receiving the award, his squeaky, childlike voice confined tears and said, “I would have been happier if my team had won.”

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The loud cheer from the audience, chanting “Sachin”; his childlike enthusiasm after diving and saving a boundary; the way he removes his helmet and watches the skies; (after scoring a century) – we can’t see those joyous moments again in our lives, although, whenever you think of Tendulkar, your mind will be play it numerous times. I wish the final stanza of his record-breaking career, plays out as he deserves (against West Indies).

In its tribute, the TIME magazine said: “It seems while ‘Time’ was having his toll on every individual on the face of this planet, he excused one man. ‘Time’ stands frozen in front of Sachin Tendulkar. We have had champions, we have had legends, but we have never had another Sachin and we never will.” It’s true; we will never have a player of this caliber. Think about this: Usain Bolt is just a kid, residing in the Jamaican backwaters, when Tendulkar faced Pakistani bowlers. Michael Schumacher was yet to participate in F1 race, when he faced Gooch’s England team (at 17) and made an unbeaten 119. Roger Federer was just another name, when Sachin faced the pompous West Indian bowlers.

 

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