There Will Be No Yelling His Name In The Stadium, Never Again!
So far I had refrained myself from writing about Sachin because, frankly, there is nothing more to write about him than what has already been written. And, I was afraid that with my limited writing skills, I wouldn’t be able to do justice to the great man, nor be able to express my feelings efficiently. Still, I make a lame attempt.
24 years ago, Sachin Tendulkar made his international debut on Nov. 15, 1989 against Pakistan in Karachi. He was just 16-years-old then.
He made his One Day International (ODI) debut on Dec. 18, 1989 against Pakistan.
He scored his first Test century in the year 1990 against England.I can bet that this one stat is enough to tell you about his greatness.
There is no other player in the game of cricket who has served his country for 24 long years, and that too successfully so.
This man has been playing cricket for India even before I was born. So it is but obvious that the first name that I learned from the cricketing world was that of Sachin. The first thing I learnt about Indian Cricket was that as long as Sachin was at the crease, we were safe and that we could win the match. I remember many instances where everyone in my family simply switched off the television after Sachin’s wicket fell.
I think it was the 90’s, when he was at the peak of his career and Indian cricket meant nothing more than this single individual. And when his wicket fell, 90 percent of Indians would profess that India will be defeated in the match. And rightly so, because the moment Sachin’s wicket fell, the rest of the batting order collapsed. And so we were titled “tigers at home and pussies outside of it.”
There were other great cricketers too, but none had that kind of an impact on the whole country, and that’s because Sachin was a class apart. He could break-through any form of attack and make it look so easy that even the best of bowlers would look ordinary in front of him.
Mark Taylor said after the 1998 defeat, “We did not lose to a team called India…we lost to a man called Sachin.”
Indian Cricket had been a one man show until the likes of Sehwag, Yuvraj and Kaif entered the scene. Until then, Sachin had been carrying the burden of endless expectations of a billion people without complaining and with consistency.
Then came the injuries, the downfall of his form, the resurrection and the peak after resurrection, all in a decade’s time. Despite that he always remained the symbol of humility and dignity. If it was somebody else in his place he would surely have given up all hope a long time ago. But Sachin was not just any other player; with every failure, his hunger for success only grew and so did the effort that he put in.
But he finally retired last Friday with a wonderful knock in his final innings. Irrespective of where you were when he played his last match—the stadium or at home watching it on television or the live stream, following the match on social networks or the live updates, reading the newspapers the next day—the only thing that people were talking about was Sachin and his straight drive.
We Indians are sentimental fools,we trust anyone and everyone who shows us a ray of hope. Sachin has been the sun that emits rays (of hope) for a long time now. Cricket is a religion in India and Sachin was the God of the religion. However that sun has finally stopped shining. He retired after scoring 15,921 runs in 200 tests. And with the God retiring, cricket has been reduced to a game all over again.
No more switching off the television sets at the fall of a single wicket, no more obsession with a single man, no more life at a stand-still when he is playing, no more prayers, no more superstitions (people often fasted for his success), in fact, there would be no more cricket for many of his followers.
The euphoria surrounding Sachin was magnanimous. Ever since he announced his retirement, every newspaper, every sports-blogger, every cricket-fan, every news channel, the social networking sites, canteen conversations, lunch conversations, family conversations, everything was in some way or the other centred around Sachin and his retirement. Even the international media had given in and was abuzz with reports of his retirement. Cricket had taken back-stage for a few weeks and it was only Sachin everywhere.
Wankhede stadium saw more tears this weekend than the theatres screening a Rajshri Productions’ family movie. As soon as the final wicket fell, the tears just couldn’t be controlled. Players, commentators, spectators, friends, family, well-wishers, acquaintances, haters, cynics, each and every person with a heart was moved.
His farewell speech was also a symbol of humbleness where he remembered his parents, wife and children, in-laws, friends, coaches, ex-players, co-players, boards and associations, ground staff, medical staff and last but not the least, fans and cricket-loving people. He kept gulping water in between to keep himself from breaking down.
The speech and the sight of Sachin speaking was so moving that even his haters and cynics were left teary-eyed for a while. “Sachiiiin, Sa-chin!” had become an anthem in itself. And for three days last week, this anthem was chanted non-stop in Wankhede stadium.
His sight, his wave, stopping a single, quick throw to wickets, saving a boundary, anything he did was followed by the chant of “Sachiiiin, Sa-chin” because everyone knew that they would be chanting it for the last time. AND NEVER AGAIN.