Sachin’s last day in Domestic cricket

Sachin’s last day in Domestic cricket

Today marked the end of Sachin’s domestic career, his last day in a Ranji match. I am so Happy that it ended on a great note with Sachin leading from the front and scoring a masterful 79* in a surface that was conductive for fast bowling.

Original Source: Indian Express. (http://www.indianexpress.com/picture-gallery/sachin-tendulkar-on-55-not-out-keeps-mumbai-chances-alive/3711-1.html?home_thumb#idclsr=3711-1.html)

Great articles on Sachin’s last match:

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-10-26/ranji-trophy/43414992_1_sachin-tendulkar-north-india-tendulkar-dream

The article below was written yesterday when the day’s play had ended with Sachin on 55*. Mumbai needed 39 more runs to win with four wickets in hand.

http://www.dnaindia.com/sport/report-sachin-tendulkar-raises-hopes-of-scripting-a-fairytale-finale-to-his-ranji-career-1910855

 

 

 

The Red Rose and the Dark Room

The Red Rose and the Dark Room

blood red rose dark rose

 I woke up to find myself in a huge,  well-furnished room. It was a beautiful, grand room that was fit for a king. Sunlight streamed through the windows illuminating the place and its grandeur even more. I loved it. I moved around looking at the paintings and tapestry on the walls.  Suddenly the sun disappeared behind a thick cover of clouds and out of nowhere a dense fog of darkness descended down upon me. It was pitch black. I slowly moved, with my arms outstretched to avoid colliding with anything, towards a point where I thought the exit was located. The more I walked, the larger the room seemed to stretch.  I walked for what seemed to be an eternity and finally my outstretched hands felt the wall. I groped along to find the door, only to find more of the wall. I groped and groped and walked along the wall for hours. ‘I saw the door somewhere here,’ I thought. ‘It couldn’t just disappear.’

Many hours passed and I sat down on the cold hard floor exhausted. And again I started my search after a few minutes. Wall. More wall. Emptiness. Wall. Where am I?  I panicked and started to search frantically for the exit. As I moved forward, something caught my foot and I stumbled onward. My head banged on something wooden on the way down and I lost all consciousness even before my body hit the ground.

A long time passed. For how long I lay there unconscious only God can tell. It seemed like years to me afterwards, but that was not logically possible. Slowly, I opened my eyes to see particularly nothing. I sat up and turned around to my right as I saw something out of the corner of my eye. A beam of light! The room was still dark, but a thin beam of light came into the room from high up above from somewhere. My eyes followed the beam upward to find its source, but I just couldn’t. The beam went up and up and so out of my vision’s reach. It was surreal. Then I followed it downwards.

And there I saw it. Illuminated under the beam of light stood a beautiful golden vase. What was more beautiful was a little green plant that the vase held and what was even more beautiful was a Red Rose that the plant held. I was mesmerized   by its beauty. I had seen so many roses, but this one was different. Something about it was heavenly. It stood there blood-red. This was the only living form that I had come across after a long time.

‘What are you?’ I asked the rose, out loud.

The rose looked at me mockingly.

I wanted to touched it. Feel it. Smell it. I stood up and walked towards the plant. My right hand went towards it mechanically. But then, something moved within me. Something that had been dormant for a long, long time awoke and it spoke.

‘What are you doing?’ It hissed angrily. ‘The rose. The rose is not yours and you know it.’

I froze there for a moment.  ‘Yes,’ I said to myself. ‘I understand, I understand now. The rose is not mine,” I said, as somehow realisation dawned upon me. I stood there without knowing what to do.

‘Concentrate on the task at hand!’ my inner voice commanded. ‘Find the exit!’

‘But, but the rose,’ I stammered. ‘I want it.’

‘You cannot have the rose.’

‘Why?’

‘It’s not yours.’

‘Why?’

‘That is the design.’

I was on the verge of losing my mind.

‘Then why was I shown the rose out of nowhere?’ I demanded.

Silence reigned. The voice had disappeared.

I turned around to look at the rose, but it was not there too. The beam of light was now illuminating an empty spot. Slowly, right in front of my eyes, the beam vapourised into nothingness. The room was now completely dark.

‘I have to start the search again,’ I said to myself. But for the second time that day I realised something else. I was trapped. I was trapped forever.

                                                                                    – dexternepo

An open letter to Sachin Tendulkar

An open letter to Sachin Tendulkar

–This letter was written by Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor of Zee News–

Dear Sachin,

When I met you on 03 September in Mumbai, I was highly impressed by two facets of your personality – simplicity and honesty. I thought at that time, if the people sitting in the power corridors too become as honest, simple and passionate about their work as you are, then it could give a facelift to the whole nation. You have changed cricket in past 24 years and now it`s time to change the face of the nation.

Sachin, when you will play your 200th Test match against West Indies in Mumbai, millions of cricket lovers in India will have their eyes fixed on you. Those watching you would want to freeze in their memories different frames of their beloved player in action forever – Sachin taking his stance, Sachin sending the ball across the boundary with ease and, if possible, Sachin celebrating his last century, waving his bat with one hand and holding the helmet in the other.

But, will your mind be invaded by the thoughts about cricket only? Will your eyes be only on the ball being hurled by the rival bowler or on that emptiness which you wouldn’t have imagined before?

Sachin, you are the brand ambassador of, not just cricket but the entire nation – The Brand Ambassador of Indian culture and family values.

The Indian cricket can now be categorised into three eras – first, pre-Sachin era, second post-Sachin era and third the Sachin era.

Since the last 24 years, you have kept the Indians hypnotised with so unique a force of magnetism that they can’t seem to believe the fact that after 18 November you will never be on the crease to play again.

Dear Sachin, cricket has been your life and I don’t mean that you should ever distance yourself from cricket. However, should Sachin be dedicated only to the game? You possess an extraordinary calibre of turning impossible into possible. You have all the options on the table as your acceptability is amazing. But the question is as to what option will Sachin choose for himself? If you wish, you can become a coach, a selector, a commentator or you can get any powerful administrative post in the BCCI. And given your market value, you can earn crores even after retirement. The logic behind doing so can be the fact that you are serving cricket. That you are paying the debt in return of the immense popularity that cricket has awarded you with.

Sachin, many Indians, including me, do not want to see you in the roles mentioned above. If it happens so, what will be the difference between you and those average cricketers who are just earning money by being part of the BCCI?

Sachin, you can change people’s thoughts. You can change the direction of the nation. You can bring into spotlight the issues left on the backburner.

Today, the country needs a hero. The country is in search for a role model, who can rise above all classes, castes and parties and become a voice of all sections of the nation. You can be that face of the nation. If you want, you can try to change the nation without being a part of any party.

Yes Sachin, you can also join politics.

Politics is not just the art of ruling; it is the art of changing the nation. And you have the ability to change the generic definition of ‘politics’.

Sachin, you may say that you do not know politics and that your membership in the Rajya Sabha is just nominal. This is true. But this is also your biggest qualification. Anyway, nowadays politics is being played on almost every issue. Be it wearing a cap or taking it out, bringing an Ordinance or tearing it apart, politics invades all. Today, we need such a national leader, who becomes a brand ambassador of non-aligned politics. We need a leader whose voice impacts the public in such a way that all the parties get compelled to agree on the issues raised by him.

In Ramayana, Hanuman was not aware of his power. When he was made aware of his power, he ended up bringing an entire mountain of Mandar. You, too, must recognise your power. The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, is also the chairman of Gujarat Cricket Association, and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi visits stadium to watch every grand match. This means, both are crazy about cricket. If you wish, you can bring both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi on the same stage. If you want, you can visit parts of the country and create a new awareness about education, casteism and many other subjects.

Sachin, do you remember the World Cup semi-final in 1996? The entire Indian team had collapsed like a pack of cards chasing Sri Lanka’s 251 runs. When people started hurling stones, then you were the one who had been sent to the field like an ambassador of peace. You were the one who had placated an angry crowd. That moment, you saved the country’s prestige from being tarnished. Now, you have to make the nation proud in a different way. Sachin, now you have to play a new inning of nation building. This nation urgently needs Sachin – acceptable to all.

Sachin, the entire nation awaits your decision. Not even 125 people have got the chance to bring a paradigm change in this country teeming with a population of 125 crores in the last 125 years. Think and decide Sachin! This is the time for the big decision.

Link to original article

sachin tendulkar

I revisited my past after 18 years

I revisited my past after 18 years

  It all began many years ago when I was a little kid – I am talking about my earliest memories, and also this inconsistent graph that is my life. I was born in Chennai, but I gained consciousness as a living entity in a place called Tuticorin.

Located on the eastern Coromandel coast of India, 590 kilometres (367 miles) down south of Chennai, Tuticorin ( most commonly known as Thoothukudi in Tamil,  AKA Pearl City), is a port city known for its various industries and of course its port. If you ask me, Tuticorin is just a town, not a city. But this place has its share of heavy weight industries – large-scale fertilizer industries, harbour, a shipbuilding company, a thermal power plant, salt companies and its very own airport which puts Tuticorin in the league of cities. Wikipedia mentions Pearl fishing as one of the occupations here, but that is totally wrong. Pearl fishing is a thing of the past and was stopped many years ago.

When I said large-scale, I mean like this –

thermal power plant

                  This is a photo of the Thermal power plant that I took there

My father worked in a fertilizer company called TAC, a subsidiary of another fertilizer company called SPIC. We lived in the quarters allotted to us in a huge area called TAC nagar, which is located near SPIC nagar. These are big private townships – they have their own private theatres, school, shops, swimming pool and so on, all owned by the parent SPIC company. Public entry is prohibited which means no congested traffic. The roads are always free and it is a great place for kids to grow up. This was were I grew up, where I spent the best part of my childhood, a place where all my classmates lived within the next few blocks, a place where my friends and I raced each other in BSA champs in the evening. It was heaven. Almost all the streets and roads were tree-lined avenues and so one could find a variety of birds around these parts. The most common bird here, apart from our unofficial national bird crow, is the peacock. Peacocks and peahens roam the streets like stray dogs. In fact, if you live here, you will wake up to the sounds of peacock every morning. Peacocks are the roosters in TAC/SPIC nagar.

This was also the time when India received Cable connection for the first time. After playing with my friends in the evening, I spent time watching GI Joe, Danger mouse, Ninja Turtles and other cartoons (Cartoon Network was yet to arrive on the scene). I even watched Hollywood movies on Star TV without understanding a single word (there was no Star Movies at that time, Star TV was a combination of both Star Movies and Star World). I never watched Cricket (a few years later it became my favourite sport), but the name Sachin Tendulkar would often reach my ears. Pamela Anderson’s ‘Bay watch’ was popular at that time and that was on my list too (what were my parents doing?).  This was also the time when my obsession with reading books started. It was all because of the kid next door. His name was Sukdev and he was also my close friend. One day he took out a heavy book from his house and came to me. It was some kind of an encyclopedia for kids with a lot of pictures. I sat with him and he showed me a picture of a white bear.

“What is this?” he asked.

“Bear,” I said.

“No,” he corrected me. “It’s a polar bear.”

At that age I had no idea what “polar” meant.

“What is this?” he asked again pointing to a white fox.

“It’s a fox,” I said.

“Polar fox”

Then a fluffy white rabbit and the same story. I was starting to get irritated. The fact that Sukdev was two years younger than me didn’t help either.

Sukdev wasn’t done. “What do you call a female peacock?”

“mmmmmmmm…..a peacock?”

“Wrong, you call it a peahen.”

That was the last straw. I stormed to my mother and demanded why they didn’t buy me any books like Sukdev’s parents did.

“That’s because he reads books,” she retorted.

The next day something magical happened. I went to school as usual and my class teacher asked a question.

“What do you call a female peacock?” she asked. “Can someone tell me?”

I looked around. Blank faces. I got up beaming and shouted “A peahen!!!”

“That’s correct! Clap hands everyone.”

And all the children clapped their hands. I was so happy. That evening I walked into the local library and took out a huge book and started reading it deeply without understanding what the book was even about.  I didn’t give up – I never do easily (my family call me a stubborn ass, I call it persistence). After that book I found another huge one. It was only big books because Sukdev’s book was a big one.  And as I was skipping through these big ones, something caught my attention in the magazine stand. It was Tinkle comics. It was love at first sight and my romance with Tinkle continued for many many years. I still have a huge collection collecting dust in my book shelf.

Everything was great until the graph took a dip and I came to Chennai. My life was changed forever. Something which I regret to this day. A part of me still lives in Tuticorin and I still roam around the streets of TAC and SPIC nagar in my mind.

Some of my relatives still live in TAC nagar and they invited me to their place a long time back. Strangely, I never budged. Finally more than three weeks back I booked tickets in Pearl City Express and traveled there last weekend. For a long time, I had imagined what I would feel like if I visited this place. I always concluded that I would either go crazy with happiness or suffer an emotional attack. But strangely neither happened. I was devoid of any emotions and even as I type this post I feel strange about the whole episode. I either wanted to be crazy-happy or very sad, but nothing happened. Is something wrong with me?

But I did everything right there. I did all the things that I had always imagined to do there if I ever visited TAC nagar again. Like a ghost that haunts its old whereabouts I haunted my old spots. I walked to the street where I once lived, stood there in the middle and slowly observed everything. I took a lot of photos – more than 300 photos in my three-day visit. My house was located at the second floor and luckily it was locked, otherwise its current inhabitants would have had a heart attack. I went there, stood in front of the door for a long time. I even tried opening the door even though it was padlocked. The door that welcomed me in hundreds of times didn’t budge this time. My mother wasn’t there to open it. This sounds emotional, but as I said I was devoid of all emotions. Maybe this is how ghosts feel. Without the necessary organs/sensors they don’t have the proper sense to feel anything and they feel trapped. I am still trapped in my past.

I even bought a little toy as a souvenir from the same toy shop that I had visited with my father 18 years ago to buy a “Dinosaur gun”.

I went to the terrace, then climbed down to the first floor where my friend and classmate Abinaya lived. After that, I visited the little garden that my father and I so lovingly tended. One look at the garden and I understood that its current owners weren’t that into gardening. My father used to work very hard to maintain our small garden. He even built a flagged stone path in it with his own hands. Those stones were missing, except a few that lay scattered somewhere.

garden tac nagar

garden tac nagar

                               These stones once bore my father’s finger prints.

After this I walked on the same beautiful path that I had walked hundreds of times to reach my school – SPIC Nagar Higher Secondary School. It was just a 10 minute walk and I loved walking to my school everyday. The thing that I most enjoyed in my last trip was the fact that nothing had changed in the last 18 years. Everything was just the same. I walked in taking several photographs. I already knew from my Tuti cousin, who had studied in the same school, that most of my old teachers weren’t there anymore and even the Headmaster who had worked there for a long time had retired just a few years back.  I asked a teacher for directions to the Second standard classes, as I couldn’t recollect the exact location. I was pointed there, but I was asked to get permission from the current Headmistress Mrs.Daisy Paul to take photos. At that moment, the Headmistress was attending a meeting and so I waited for another 15 minutes outside the meeting room. Out she came bustling. Looking at me, she flashed a smile and entered into her room within seconds. I was permitted into her room after a couple of minutes.

She looked like a cheerful, warm person. As I opened my mouth to say something in Tamil, she cut in, “How are you?” She asked in English in a cheerful, firm voice.

I forgot that this school’s national language was always English.

“I am fine. How about you?” I switched my language mode.

After a few words she asked me if I remembered anything about my old teachers.

“I very well remember Meena ma’am, because she used to beat me a lot, “I said. “And also the Drawing teacher. I forgot her name, but I remember her because she used to like me very much.”

“So you remember one who punished you and one who loved you?” she chuckled, “Nice!”

“The drawing teacher must be Nimmy,” she continued. “She left only two years back.”

This Nimmy teacher really loved me. Sometimes she’ll take the class outside to the grounds  and wherever I played she’ll stand next to me. And whenever she gets a chance she’ll put her arm around my neck, pinching my cheeks.

After getting the permission from the Headmistress I went back to my old class and there I took some snaps after informing the teacher there. She was more than willing and asked me lot of questions.

“Shall I ask all the kids to sit in their places?” she asked me as some of them were standing in line near her desk with notebooks in hand.

“That’s fine,” I said. “Let them stand there. The snaps will be more natural this way”

I sat along with the kids in a desk and asked her to take a picture. The first snap didn’t come out good, so I asked her to do it again. The second snap was poorer than the first. I debated if I should ask her again.

“Did it come good? ” Teacher Shanthi asked me innocently.

I didn’t want to harass her anymore and said that it looked fine.

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On the second day, I again roamed around the streets a lot and went to my old street again. My uncle and aunt there (let me call them my Tuti uncle and Tuti aunt to avoid confusion as I have lots of aunts and uncles) took real good care of me and in the evening we visited the Hare Island beach there. Apart from this beach and a few temples and churches, there are absolutely no tourist spots in Tuticorin. No swanky malls nor multiplexes. But there are a few places some kilometres away from Tuti like King Kattabomman’s fort and Poet and freedom fighter Bharathiyar’s house in Ettayapuram.

The Hare Island beach is a beautiful beautiful beach. The sea there is more like a huge lake rather than a sea due to the absence of any waves. You do not get to hear the sound of a beach here (sound of waves, I mean). I didn’t explore the island completely as we were short on time. That night I went to a movie in the open-air theatre at SPIC. The movie was Titanic 3! What’s Titanic 3, you might wonder. I really don’t know the real name as I missed the first few minutes. It was a Hollywood movie dubbed in Tamil. Titanic 2 was actually the movie Poseidon! This is how Hollywood movies are named in Tamil. I generally don’t see movies dubbed in Tamil (except on TV sometimes), but my Tuti cousin wanted to see a movie, any movie, and So Titanic 3 it was. The story was set in the time of World War 2. A submarine and its crew try to escape a German ship to reach England. But their progress is always hampered by something – a ghost. The submarine’s haunted! The movie was dull and boring. It looked like a low-budget affair and I didn’t recognise a single actor except one guy whose name I don’t remember.

I had never visited this theatre before, as when I was a kid me and my family used to go to the open-air theatre at TAC. That was were I watched the Tamil movie ‘Thiruda Thiruda’ with my mother and later Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ with my father. I visited the TAC theatre this time and I was told that it was not functioning for the past few months; the screen was not in a good condition and the green lawn had dried up due to lack of maintenance. The great thing about these theatres are that they are totally free. You can go in and out whenever you want.

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On the third day, we visited the seaside Thiruchendur temple, located 40 kilometres from Tuticorin. This temple is considered to be one of the six houses of Lord Murugan (AKA Lord Karthik and countless other names), with all the remaining houses located in the state of Tamil Nadu itself.  I am not a religious person, but I do love history and good architecture.

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The whole experience was strange and surreal. Before I started from Chennai, I even thought that I was being setup for my end. I reckoned that it all started in Tuticorin, maybe it’s going to end there. It’s a crazy thought, but then I started to think way too deep and crazy from a young age.

TAC and SPIC Nagar – Gallery

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Hare Island Beach Gallery

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Spic Nagar Higher secondary school Gallery

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My House

Random snaps

My Tuti Aunty is really good at arts and crafts. All the works of art and the soft toys were made by her.

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path tac nagar

It is a strange path that I have traveled. I wish that I had taken a different one – but the choice wasn’t mine, was it?

Three nice articles from The Hindu on Sachin’s retirement

Three nice articles from The Hindu on Sachin’s retirement

The master sets his exit date

                                                    – Nirmal Shekar

So this is how it is going to end, with a bang or a whimper — in his own backyard, against a team that has long since lost its sheen as Test cricket’s greatest. Not in Johannesburg against the mighty South Africans, with Dale Steyn steaming in and the spectators on their feet, ignoring the cold-to-warming beer. No MCG or Lord’s for his last Test and the most famous farewell in sport this side of Don Bradman.

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar will pad up for the last time in a few weeks’ time, in mid-November, for a Test match against the West Indies and, from that moment, sport in India — not just cricket — will be divided into two distinct eras: Before Tendulkar, After Tendulkar.

For, what came in between — the Sachin era — is at once unique and a passage of time that, for a variety of reasons, may never be matched in Indian sport.

Every genius has his own style of leave taking. Some do it in their peak with a self-satisfied I-told-you-so grin, hardly concealed; others simply fade away almost unnoticed.

But Sachin is not every genius. There has never been anybody like him in Indian cricket. There is unlikely to be anybody like him after his departure. In the event, he has to do it his way.

No other Indian sportsman ever managed to bat, bowl, serve, spike, box, kick, volley his way into the hearts of so many of us — seven billion plus, right? — but as a cricketer par excellence Sachin has done precisely that and you cannot even be sure that this is just another sporting farewell.

If sport is culturally mediated, then one man — five-foot-something, with a squeaky voice, without a single blot on his character in three decades despite the intense scrutiny — managed to bring about the sort of cultural revolution that only the great Don had matched in the past, during the Depression Era in the 1920s and well beyond.

He redefined the possible, and the impossible

This is precisely why the Sachin persona spreads its wings way beyond the cricketing arena. As a sportsman, he has redefined the possible, and the impossible. And, as awed men, women and children, whose only claim to a brush with greatness is a passport with the same validating stamp, we are forever obliged to him for helping raise our stock in lands many of us have never travelled to.

“Sachin, Sachin, Sachin,” said the teenager who was trailing two sports journalists in a cold wind-swept street in Seogwipo, the capital city of a tiny island, a volcanic outcrop, not too far from the feet of South Korea, in 1999. We were there to cover a Davis Cup tennis match. But the youngster knew us as men from Sachin’s country.

Rewind a few years to Sydney. It is always a risk to walk into a pub near closing time in Australia’s commercial capital. But a friend and I were rather bemused with this greeting one memorable summer night in the mid-1990s at the beachfront.

“You from India?” There was only the voice. The person it belonged to seemed almost comatose. Then we smiled. And the old man was urgently awake. “Give me your hand,” he said, having grabbed it even before that sentence was complete. “Gandhi, Tendulkar, chicken tikka masala, great country. I want to go there,” he blurted.

Sometimes, somewhere, some people get the ranking order wrong. But Sachin is always right up there. And he will be, even in his absence.

The only problem is, we have lost a popular yardstick. We, as Indians, were as good, or bad, as Sachin was. Now we have to try and find a whole new measure by which to evaluate ourselves.

Also, perhaps a new acronym will soon find its way into the Diagnostic Psychiatric Manual (DSM): Post Sachin Stress Disorder.

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The legend bids adieu

For fans of cricket, particularly those in India, the world as they knew it for close to 25 years has changed forever. Sachin Tendulkar’s decision to retire after his 200th Test match, scheduled against West Indies in mid-November, brings to a close a career like no other. There have been several exceptional careers in cricket, but save for Don Bradman there hasn’t been a phenomenon — in terms of the collective experience of the artiste — like Tendulkar. For long the most startling thing about his iridescent career was its inevitability. Great deeds were foretold when he was still a boy, the lofty predictions scarcely allowing for sport’s inherent caprice. “Gentlemen, Tendulkar never fails,” the late Naren Tamhane is reported to have said in a selection meeting, when someone wondered if a 16-year-old should be sent to Pakistan to face the likes of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, and Abdul Quadir. (Waqar Younis made his debut in the series as well.) And incredibly, almost supernaturally, beginning with the debut series in 1989, the master has fulfilled all but the wildest of predictions. Until the arrival and establishment of Rahul Dravid, Tendulkar was India’s lone reference for excellence in testing conditions abroad. The pressure to succeed every single time, the claustrophobia that comes with every little action being scrutinised can scarcely be conceived. And yet Tendulkar wore it with lightness and dignity, making brilliance commonplace, unremarkable.

Indeed the essence of Tendulkar’s greatness lies as much in his preternatural ability as in his handling the weight of being cricket’s biggest icon. For many in India, Tendulkar was God — a statement, from the evidence of the frenzy he frequently triggered, several came dangerously close to believing. Certainly much of Tendulkar’s batting seemed like a gift from above. But the impression short-changes him for no one worked harder to hone natural talent. And no one was less concerned with his image as a batsman — struggling for touch in England in 2007, he sublimated his ego and eked out runs. But just as the experts said the newer version of Tendulkar was effective but unappealing, he did what great champions do. He challenged popular perception by reprising later in the year in Australia, the thrilling, spontaneous style of his early years. At 37, he had his most fertile year (2010), scoring more than 1500 Test runs and forcing a revision of how both the great batsman and the old batsman is viewed. Longevity is the gold standard of greatness for nothing is left untested; the arc of Tendulkar’s career ensures it will be the new gold standard. In recent years, the national obsession with him hadn’t dimmed, but it had been distributed among the members of a resurgent Team India. These next two months will see a return to the old days, one final celebration of the Age of Tendulkar.

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An icon departs

                  – Vijay Lokapally

His bat will rest, not his legacy. By choosing the stage for his final walk to the crease, Sachin Tendulkar has followed in the footsteps of Sir Donald Bradman. One of the finest batsmen of the modern era has, like the great Australian, given his fans a chance to be part of his retirement.

The privilege of picking the final day on the cricket field had eluded the likes of Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar and Anil Kumble.

It has not eluded Tendulkar, though. He has always played cricket on his terms. It is hardly surprising that he is quitting on his own.

The clamour for his retirement, sometimes uncharitable, did hurt him. It was becoming increasingly difficult for someone, so used to entering the field to delirious chants of “Sachin, Sachin” to depart in deathly silence. The failures with the bat had become frequent and the evenings lonelier.

Universal phenomenon

Tendulkar was a universal phenomenon. Fans queued up outside Lord’s on the midnight prior to the match to catch a glimpse of him. In Australia, he was more popular than its icons. Even the Australians thought he was a better batsman than Bradman, though Tendulkar was never comfortable with that comparison.

In the West Indies, where he did not really have the best of times, he was as popular as Brian Lara. Pakistan’s legends never shied away from glorifying him as the greatest either. He was a cricketer with an international appeal.

It was tough to be Sachin Tendulkar. “Very tough,” he had confessed once. He rarely celebrated triumph, but always brooded in silence when the team failed.

The burden of expectations weighed heavy on his shoulders for a major part of his career. “You get Sachin, you get India,” was a line adopted unfailingly by the opposition. Often were they proved right.

It was Tendulkar’s character that epitomised his cricket. He never put a foot wrong. No colleague remembers Tendulkar venting his anger in the dressing room. No dissent on the field, no sledging. He remained a picture of dignity at the crease, playing the game as Bradman did, with the team’s interest above his own.

Vulnerable moments

Tendulkar did have his moments of vulnerability, as seen in his recent cheap dismissals. But he ensured that they did not impact the team’s interests. Bad umpiring decisions hurt him the most, but he took them in his stride, suffered them in silence.

He did not do as well as captain. It was largely because he expected similar commitment and intensity from lesser mortals, from men less gifted.

One remembers the painful night in Barbados in 1997, when tears rolled down his cheeks as India had lost a match it should have won. He was inconsolable, unable to come to terms with the result. However, like a true leader, he never blamed anyone for the debacle.

He never brought disrepute to the game. He not just upheld but enhanced cricket’s culture with his exceptional contribution with the bat.

For a generation that raved about Gavaskar and Amitabh Bachchan in different fields, Tendulkar was the biggest star, uniting the nation with his deeds in cricket arenas all over the world.

Tendulkar was the reason cricket survived the wounds of match fixing. He is the reason the game has thrived with people flocking the stadium for just this man.

The zeal

His zeal for the game was such that he was ready to bowl even at the most crucial of moments, especially the last over, even bowling a bouncer at Shane Warne in a Test match.

Adam Gilchrist savaged all bowlers but could never get the measure of Tendulkar, who could bowl spin and pace and everything in between. He could field anywhere; he was a fine out-fielder too, a quality that is often overshadowed by his stupendous batting records.

He married his tremendous talent with rare discipline, always honing his skills. He was always the first to give credit to team members. He often hailed Laxman for his ability to bat with tailenders, and had words of high praise for Zaheer Khan after a record-breaking last-wicket partnership with him. He said a hundred times that it was a “pleasure” to watch Virender Sehwag bat, and how Dravid always inspired him.

Bradman received a standing ovation when he walked back for the final time in a Test. Let us accord Tendulkar, our boy from Bandra, the same respect that the boy from Bowral got, and celebrate his humungous impact on the game. Like Bradman’s average of 99.94, Tendulkar’s 100 international centuries will stand the test of time.

One hears the line, ‘The game will not be the same’ when an icon retires. It had never rung truer.