How many times has an individual tried to sum up this man in His entirety and fell way short of it? Possibly, countless. Nevertheless, here’s another attempt filled with unbound admiration for the master just as I reminisce two odd decades of life, with Sachin at the realm of the game and in the hearts of a billion Indians. It’s only in the game of cricket I’d imagine, where GOD has an age, and He turns 45 today; no points for guessing that!
As much as I can recall, for me, it all started with Sachin’s blistering innings of 82 runs against New Zealand back in the spring of 94 and my fan-boyish affair with the master has continued ever since. I was an 8-year-old kid back then and barely understood the intricacies of the game but knew one thing for sure, that, all my cricketing dreams would feature Sachin as the main protagonist. Or perhaps, the only protagonist! To me, it was more about living my life with Sachin around, all the time. Starting from his stance, facial expressions, reactions, shot making, running between the wickets etc. etc. it was all there, always, etched inside somewhere within me. I am possibly very similar to innumerable other cricket fans across the country who even didn’t want to bat an eyelid when the master weaved His magic with the willow. Missing one moment of the game, unless forced by circumstances, seemed like an offence, honestly. Almost every discussion with friends would possibly start and end with cricket and Sachin, some way or the other. That habit of reading newspapers from the last page had also started making more sense, largely due to Sachin, to say the least.
Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when Indian cricket was more or less in its towering all-time lows, with the likes of Gavaskar and Kapil Devs nearing the toe end of their careers, Tendulkar’s announcement to the big stage was more like a brief of respite to a cricket frenzy nation as ours. From there onwards, Sachin’s meteoric rise in the cricketing world has simply been a treat to watch and live with. Be it taming a rampaging Pakistani bowling attack, scoring an amazing century on a crazy pitch at Perth, winning multiple series’ almost single-handed, and many more, the man’s done it all. Even though India’s stint at the 96 world cup ended in disaster, Sachin’s contribution to the cause was still miles ahead than any of his fellow counterparts. Furthermore, who on earth, from any of the cricketing countries, would not remember that mind-blowing innings of 143 against Australia at Sharjah, 98 hindered by a sandstorm? Must be an alien to not know that!
With the passage of time, by the late 90’s and early 2000’s Sachin was already an institution and had started shaping the country’s cricketing scenario only by virtue of his mere existence in the game. But most importantly, amidst all other glimmers around Indian cricket with some big names getting involved in match-fixing scandals, Sachin was the only beam, which kept on shining all the way. The way He carried himself in such tough times reinforced the country’s belief in Him as fans, all the more than it was already. He brought a smile to every Indian’s face and instilled a sense of reliance. So much so, that He had turned this into a habit – shouldering a billion dreams whenever He went on to bat. I am most definitely, not the only one who switched off his TV set, when Sachin got out, in a big run chase by the then standards. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but He made it look easy. Tendulkar never let us Indians realise, that shouldering an expectation of this magnitude every day is seriously inhuman. GOD, for a reason!
Slowly and steadily, He was already being considered as arguably the best ever player to have graced the game and going by the numbers, He was well on course to break all major records the game has ever had. But as much as He deserved, a World Cup victory kept on eluding Him in spite of the player that He was, until 2011, when the most coveted feather was embedded in His crown.
As an ardent admirer and a fan of the great man, personally, I was so relieved to see Him lift the World Cup that almost for a moment, I didn’t realise that India had won the coveted prize after 27 long years! That’s the impact Sachin had on me.
To be honest, I am not a blogger or a writer and am far away from cricket due to professional engagements. It has been extremely difficult as such, to compile my emotions into a readable format, and that too, when the subject matter is GOD Himself! Thanks to WeekendTrivia for letting me unwind myself.
Having been obsessed with Sachin throughout my lifetime, 14th Nov, 2013 was, however, possibly one such day, where I had a multitude of emotions flowing in me, so much so, that tears rolled off my eyes with a big smile on my face when the game of cricket witnessed its best exponent sign off for good.
My precise feeling that day – ‘Cricket will never be the same without you…’
Bringing this memoir to a close, I’d take this opportunity to quote TIME magazine, which according to me, is the most befitting narrative of Sachin, as I’d imagined-
“When Sachin Tendulkar travelled to Pakistan to face one of the finest bowling attacks ever assembled in cricket, Michael Schumacher was yet to race an F1 car, Lance Armstrong had never been to the Tour de France, Diego Maradona was still the captain of a world champion Argentina team, Pete Sampras had never won a Grand Slam. When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company, Roger Federer was a name unheard of; Lionel Messi was in his nappies, Usain Bolt was an unknown kid in the Jamaican backwaters. The Berlin Wall was still intact, USSR was one big, big country, Dr Manmohan Singh was yet to “open” the Nehruvian economy. 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 Tendulkar and we never will.”
The Author of this guest blog is Jonantik Chowdhury.