Sachin Tendulkar: Farewell to a cricketing genius
October 10, 2013.
For most cricket fans, this day will hold different meanings; a day of sadness, a day of mourning, a day of nostalgia and a day of reminiscing. However, for the die-hard breed of Sachin Tendulkar fans, this day will only be permeated with one emotion; shock.
Yes, despite the criticism, despite the opportunist keyboard bashers who had jumped on the “malign Tendulkar” bandwagon for the past 24 months and despite the dozens of pundits clamouring for this day, Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement will always come as a shock to those who have lived their lives according to the rise and fall of this dynamite.
If there was ever a man less deserving of having such unceremonious last few months in the sport he loved, it is Sachin Tendulkar. Ever since his first appearance on the world cricketing stage as a curly haired 16-year-old, Sachin has been like utopia for the masses. It wasn’t just a billion Indians who rejoiced at every one of his achievements, but every cricket lover in the world revelled in his brilliance. A 15 minute cameo from the man was worth more than a triple century by any of his far more inferior colleagues.
Whether it was his glorious back foot stroke that made a man of 5’5” look like a giant, or his magical on-drive down the wicket, which made every Pakistani wish he had been born on their side of the border, Sachin took one’s breath away with everything he did on the cricket field. Outside it, he was a true gentleman. A master on how to handle fame and success, Sachin’s humility won him the few fans that even his cricketing exploits couldn’t.
His supernatural cricketing talent and down-to-earth persona off the field has given us the kind of product that has seldom been witnessed by the sporting fraternity; the perfect genius.
Yes, perfect, never flawed.
Yet if there is a black mark in the maestro’s marvelous story, it is in the last few pages.
Straight after India’s world cup victory on home soil, Sachin was expected to go off and claim his 100th century in a matter of months. This last milestone, however, became the hardest one in Sachin’s cricket life. Game after game, tour after tour, his 100th ton eluded him. It was almost like cricket was having its revenge on him, for making the game look so easy for the past 24 years.
I remember the disdain with which I used to watch those innings. The champion, once so confident of his talent, was beginning to have doubts. It saddened me as I watched how Tendulkar’s once elusive wicket became a mere formality for the opposition. How bowlers, who would once have feared him, now licked their lips at the prospect of bowling to him. It was clear that he, like his millions of die-hard fans, was in denial.
So why didn’t he leave?
Why didn’t he opt for the perfect retirement or a somewhat ceremonious exit like his contemporaries Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid?
Shouldn’t a man like Tendulkar give himself a perfect end to the perfect career?
Tendulkar’s take on retirement refuted the idea of retiring at the top.
He called it selfish;
“My belief is that if I feel I can contribute, I am mentally there where I feel I am bringing value to the team then I should be playing. It’s a very selfish thought that when you are at the top you should retire.”
Once again I was struck by the greatness of the man. Despite the countless editorials calling for his retirement, criticism that he played only for records and wasn’t giving youngsters a chance, Tendulkar stood by his principles and kept going till the end. Unlike the mere mortals who call it a day prematurely, due to fears of being ridiculed, the genius kept going until he had given his everything to the sport that he loved.
Unlike those who believe that he has left it too late, I believe that he has been gracious to us by giving us every last glimpse of his genius. To round up, I don’t think anybody put it better than BBC;
“Beneath the helmet, under that unruly curly hair, inside the cranium, there is something we don’t know, something beyond scientific measure. Something that allows him to soar, to roam a territory of sport that, forget us, even those who are gifted enough to play alongside him cannot even fathom. When he goes out to bat, people switch on their television sets and switch off their lives.”
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.