Remember the date.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar retired on 16-11-2013.
It was a little unfair to expect a century from the batting ace in his final Test. Even if he had taken his helmet off and raised his bat, it wouldn’t have been better than the speech he gave at the end. Between sips of water, Tendulkar spoke to the tear glands, using the language of cricket as his mother tongue. The champion was reaching out to the people responsible for his success, as fans worldwide watched with their hearts. Not their eyes.
Like his batting, there were shots all around the ground. Except that this straight drive, came straight from the heart.
A little man who was born to make it big, a 40-year old who was every Indian child’s dream come true. Vicarious that is. Revisiting each one of his hundred hundreds, will be an exercise in nostalgia. Yes. It is difficult to imagine a dressing room without Tendulkar. But for Indian cricket fans, he is a guest who has decided to go back home after 24 years. The uncle who came with his supercalifragilisticexpialidocious cricketing gifts and left with great memories. Don’t lie. Didn’t you cry?
What happens next?
Tendulkar’s absence represents an opportunity for India to look at other sports. Again.
Easy. Cricket will continue to hog the limelight. There will be the multi-starrer IPL every year, with Test cricket fighting to ensure that it is not treated like a documentary film from the past. Children will continue to walk to a coaching camp, with kit bags bigger than their school bags. People will turn their heads to stare at a cricketer driving on the road, and will continue to bother him for an autograph when he eats at a restaurant.
Don’t worry. The Indian cricketer will always be the cool dude who plays on T.V. But will he continue to be the country's next great athlete?
Can't say. But with this superstar calling it a day after three days of one-sided cricket, it is clear that there is no replacement in sight. Your arguments are welcome. No. We weren’t digressing. Now is the time for the country to put things in order, and look for a Wimbledon singles champion. She could be from Pudukkotai. How about an Olympic sprinter from Siliguri? There can be a footballer from Manipur who could play for an English club, and motivate an Indian team, into believing that it can qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
Don’t ask for names, find and create them.
It is time to look at the future, with a lesson from the past. Not too long ago, hockey was followed with as much gusto as cricket. But it received the short end of the stick, once Kapil Dev returned with the 1983 Prudential World Cup title. There is a cycle at work, and Indian cricket has achieved what it was destined to. When Sachin Tendulkar burst onto the scene in 1989, the world’s jaws dropped. His extraordinary talent placed the sport on a pedestal, which in turn created a shadow, that did cloud over the success of other Indian athletes.
Mr.Tendulkar did nothing wrong by raising the bar. He is India’s greatest sportsperson ever. For now.
However. His bat is now a baton.
Who will grab the cue from the queue?
Beamer: The 12th man should bat at No.4. Hope he is a bowler!
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