Sachin Tendulkar’s announcement that he is going to retire from Test cricket after his 200th match signals the end of the most epochal era in Indian cricket.
The country has won more tournaments, bilateral Test and One-Day series during the last 24 years than in the earlier period. Of course, more games are being played now and that too with more countries than in the last century. But the fact is that ‘The Master’ brought Indian cricket to world attention as he amassed runs and wins for the nation.
Game to move on even after Master leaves
There will simply never be another player like Tendulkar, and his records will be set in stone for centuries to come. Yes, records are meant to be broken, for that is the sign of human progress, but there will always be some which are pretty much out of reach of the ordinary sportsman.
So, unless a truly extraordinary sportsperson comes along, his records will be there for eternity.
Even if somebody does appear, will he/she have the same hold over not just the nation’s public but also over all those in other countries who follow the sport? Tendulkar was the closest thing to batting perfection. Clearly, perfection can never be attained but ‘The Master’ came closest to it. It was riveting to see how he made subtle changes in technique that allowed him to stay ahead of the bowlers.
To be able to do that shows a sharp cricketing intellect, and the ability to watch, absorb and then disseminate the aspects that would take the game forward. I• the last few years, Indian cricket got a little used to seeing their team without Tendulkar, be it in one-day cricket or Test matches.
So in a sense, they are prepared for it but what about the media? Who will they now peg their stories on? All the speculation, the praise, the criticism that made loud headlines if it involved ‘The Master’; what will happen now that he withdraws from the public eye? Sure, it is not that he hasn’t planned another career to channelise that boundless energy and child-like enthusiasm, but it may not be what adds to the circulation and increases the eyeballs.
It will be interesting to see, indeed.
In the meanwhile, there will be lots to do to cash in on his final month as an India player. So, brace yourself for a slew of stories and programmes from people who will claim to know him, but actually would have just seen a fraction of him.
All Indian cricket lovers would want to see him sign off in style in his 200th Test, and whichever venue hosts that game will be guaranteed a full house on all the days of the Test.
One only hopes that all the hoopla, the hype, will not distract him and make him emotional.
For, that could come in the way of him focusing totally on the job as he has done so wonderfully over the last 24 years.
Two hundred Tests is an unreal figure, but it also tells you how he has stayed fit and kept himself mentally fresh for each and every challenge.
It is a mind boggling figure that only adds to the legend that Sachin already is. His legacy will be of playing the game with total enjoyment and in a hard but fair manner. And if every young cricketer all over the world does that then cricket will be in a happier place than it is today.