Where it all ended
Sachin Tendulkar called it a day to the greatest love of his life on a November 16th in 2013. I remember the scenic happenings of that day as a Tendulkar fanatic and as a cricket romantic. When Tendulkar walked down the aisle for one last time at the Wankhede, moments began to run through my mind. I’m sure it must have been the same for the Little Master as well, where it all started for the maestro.
One of the most over-used terms in sports, and especially in cricket is greatness. How do you measure greatness ? Do you compile a statistical comparison of the greats to have played the Gentleman’s game ? But here is a man who is beyond any comparison and beyond any judgement. Here is a man who carried alive the hopes and aspirations of a country for two decades and did justice for the most part part of his career. He redefined the way people looked at cricket in India. There is no denying the fact that this nation have had a lot of legends like Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev. But here was a man who made merry with the willow in hand. There are some things in cricket that the stats won’t tell you. The beauty of a Tendulkar straight drive and the elegance you get to see in his cover drives. Everytime he scored a run there was this heavenly touch involved with it. That is the beauty that I will miss and every kid from the 90s will miss. I’ve seen openers punich brutally some of the best bowling attacks in the game. I’ve seen the likes of Sanath Jayasuriya and Adam Gilchrist be absolute nightmares for the best of the bowlers. But all of these batsmen had just one gear or maybe two. But Sachin Tendulkar wasn’t anything like this. He was heavenly on the field with the willow in hand and humility written all over his face. He had an unfluttered mind and an unquenchable thirst for scoring hundreds – big hundreds!
Start of the Tendulkar romance
The master started making a name for himself in limited overs cricket with a breathtaking 82 of 49 balls against New Zealand. This was the beginning of the wonderful journey to follow for the little master.
He epitomized the face of modern India. In a country where caste was dividing people across regions and states,he united them for a common good. It is often joked that when Sachin was at the crease it was the best time to commit crimes. Even the Gods wanted to watch the little master bat. He was too good even for the gods to ignore!
Who was Sachin to India? Quite a question that, right ? Judging the big man is not for the common man, its for the supernaturals. For the moment, lets just keep this question unanswered just like the array of unanswered questions since we have heard since birth. Sachin Tendulkar was an emotion, a larger than life character. He brought smiles to the downtrodden and the deprieved. He was a stress booster at work and a hope for many.
In the late 80’s India was in the search out for a successor to the throne left vacant by Sunil Gavaskar. Gavaskar was once in a generation cricketer, the way he played against the fearsome West Indies pace quartet and scored 774 runs at the Carribean was something out of ordinary stuff. The records he plundered in Test cricket was not something that someone thought would be broken. Since the 1983 triumph, Indian cricket went into a kind of standstill situation, but when Tendulkar arrived from the maidans of Mumbai the people started to dream again. The same man would go on to put the country’s dreams on his shoulders for two decades. Not that Tendulkar was the talented of all cricketers that debuted since 1983, but the attitude of the great man is exemplary and impeccable. I always thought as a cricket romantic his long time friend Vinod Kambli was the better talented. But the poor chap had a bitter attitude. When Ambrose exposed him, he got into a mental dilemma and fell in deep traps. He never woke up from that. It’s good to be talented, but it only holds good if it is backed by attitude and temperament. Tendulkar had a mix of both and further explains as to why he has been successful.
Even at a very young age he was popular in the Mumbai maidans. He was gifted than most of the similar aged guys of his age.During the mid 90s, one would get the feeling that he was the fulcrum upon which the entire team revolved. He earned the respect of his team mates with his performance with the bat and conduct on the field. Unlike the scenario now, there was a time when Indian cricket fans used to switch off their television sets when Sachin got out. They knew he was the sole hope and motivator, and they were right. Sachin was always under pressure to perform always and the burden of expectations rose heavily on him. Only since the arrival of stalwarts like Dravid and Ganguly in 1996, he started to breathe an easier life.