Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Magnum Opus Called Sachin Tendulkar - A Fan Speaks...

We are in the midst of a significant week in the sporting history of the country. Hearts are warm, eyes are moist and words filled with gratitude. One of the greatest cricketing giant of all times, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is all set to bid goodbye to a game that he played with pride. For a man who is considered God by his innumerable fans all over the world (including me!), 'My Yatra Diary...' is delighted to host a cricket blogger, for the very first time, DS of CricketWise in its blogging arena. A self confessed cricket lover since the age of 8, DS salutes the little master by bringing his most special memories of the man for all of us today ... Read on ...

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Sachin Tendulkar, the finest cricketer of our times, perhaps the greatest of all times barring only the legendary Sir Don Bradman, will play his last match this week. Fittingly it will be at his home ground, at a place where he is worshipped like a living God, Wankhede Stadium will be lucky to witness the final match of its beloved son, the hero of the nation, the man who ceased to be a mere mortal by his actions, who was elevated to the status which others can only crave for.

‘I saw him (Sachin) playing on television and was struck by his technique, so I asked my wife to come look at him. Now I never saw myself play, but I feel that this player is playing much the same as I used to play, and she looked at him on television and said yes, there is a similarity between the two...his compactness, technique, stroke production... it all seemed to gel’

~ Sir Don Bradman, legendary Australian batsman
Sachin and Don Bradman

Sachin and Don

My first brush with Sachin was about 28 years ago, in the year 1985, he is just a kid with starry eyes, and I am still bobbling around in my mother’s womb. My father would cajole my mother, who had no interest in cricket whatsoever, to give him company to watch some young kid on the television who my father believed would go on to become the next big thing in India. Yes, Sachin was already talked of highly in Mumbai in those days, even before he had turned 15. My mother would reluctantly give him company and to this day she regrets it, probably, today even my father regrets those fateful days as they attribute my maddening passion for the game of cricket to those incidents! 

‘There are two kinds of batsmen in the world.
One, Sachin Tendulkar. Two, all the others’
~ Andy Flower, former Zimbabwe wicketkeeper-batsman
and current England Cricket Team Director

Over the past 28 years, I have heard so much about his genius; indeed I have been lucky enough to have been witness to it too. I have heard and read stories of how Sachin was hit on the nose in his debut series by a red hot Waqar Younis bouncer in Pakistan. He continued his innings in a blood soaked shirt and is believed to have said ‘Main Khelega’ (I will play) to his partner at the other end just after getting hit. The fact that it was his debut series, the fact that it was being played in Pakistan, the fact that he was facing a bowling attack that comprised of Imram Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Abdul Qadir makes his statement such a remarkable moment of bravado and tells us about the faith that he must have had even in those early days in his own batting abilities. I have read how he hit Abdul Qadir, the great Pakistani leg spinner in his prime for 4 sixes in an over when he was just 16! I have also heard so much about his astonishing counter attacking ton as an 18 year old on the fastest and the bounciest pitch of all time, the WACA, in 1992.

‘The only batsman I would love to see by paying for the tickets and sitting in the stands just to watch him is none other than Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin is a genius. I'm a mere mortal’

~ Brian Lara, great West Indian batsman –
perhaps Tendulkar’s nearest challenger

A young Sacin during his debut series in Pakistan

A Young Sachin (centre) during his debut series
with Kapil Dev and Mohd Azharuddin

I remember seeing his magic on the television for the first time in the 1996 Cricket World Cup. He seemed to make batting look so easy. I don’t remember the exact number of runs he got but it must have been around 500 and that is a mind boggling figure to achieve in a single edition. He was perhaps in his prime in that period from 1996-2001. He had, by this time achieved a cult status; he was revered by his countrymen, respected by his opposition. 

‘There will never be another Sachin Tendulkar.’

~ Muttiah Muralitharan, the greatest bowler of all time

Sachin, the Greatest Batsman... Murli, the Greatest Bowler

Sachin – the highest run getter in Test Matches and ODI’s, Murlitharan – the highest wicket taker in Test Matches and ODI’s

He was expected to reel off hundreds every time he strode out to the middle, a testimony to the fact of people’s faith in his abilities. Anything less than a hundred was considered a failure. It was not humanly possible to achieve hundreds in every innings but then to be honest, he was never considered a human. The most famous banner, floating around the ground whenever he was playing, was ‘Cricket is our Religion and Sachin is our God!’ It is to his credit that he churned out the runs expected of him on almost all the occasions. While it is true that he seemed to ooze with natural talent and flair right from his childhood days but he never ever took things for granted. It was his unbridled passion and dedication towards the game that stood out amongst all his numerous other attributes. It is said that he would bat on and on when he was a kid, never ever getting tired or bored and that little Sachin had to be dragged out of the nets on numerous occasions so that others could get a chance to practice too.

‘We have to get the wickets ready for the Test match.
Please ask your boy to come in.’

~ Chandu Borde, team manager on India's tour of Pakistan in 1989-90, remembers the country's groundsmen asking him to get Sachin Tendulkar out of the nets.

Sachin as God Poster

Sachin is considered as a living God by millions of his fans

It is a trait that he still possesses. He is still the last man to get out those nets; he still practices as if he is a kid who is learning the ropes of his trade. He still has that boyish smile and that chubby look about him that he had 23 years ago. He still celebrates a wicket with that childlike exuberance; he still possesses one of the best throwing arms from the outfield in the current Indian team filled with youngsters. Another fact is that he is such a humble man, down to earth, almost shy, he has never let the riches of the game or the adulations from his fans of the successes on the field go in his head.

‘You get him out and half the battle is won.’ 
~ Arjuna Ranatunga, One of the finest captains of all times who led Sri Lanka to their only World Cup win in 1996

I still distinctly remember those days in the 1990’s when Indian cricket was synonymous with Sachin Tendulkar. Well in more ways than one it still is but certainly to a lesser extent now. Those were the days when all hopes rested on the young shoulders of Sachin Tendulkar. People flocked to watch him bat; the entire nation came to a standstill when he was out there, he gave people hope, he gave people self-belief and he filled them with pride and with joy and gave them an identity. It would not matter if India won or lost, what mattered was if Sachin had got a good score! When he would be dismissed a collective groan could be heard as millions of hearts broke and eyes became moist and almost everyone in the ground would silently walk out while the rest of the country would shut off their transistors or tv sets. Sachin was their last hope, he was indeed their first too and when he failed, invariably India failed too.

‘You have to watch India in India truly to appreciate the pressure that Sachin Tendulkar is under every time he bats. Outside grounds, people wait until he goes in before paying to enter. They seem to want a wicket to fall even though it is their own side that will suffer. This is cricket as Sachin has known it since the age of 16. He grew up under incredible weight of expectation and never buckled once – not under poor umpiring decisions or anything else. I place him very slightly ahead of Lara because I found him slightly tougher mentally.’

~ Shane Warne, one of the greatest spinners of all time

I distinctly remember him waltzing down the pitch repeatedly to Australian spin wizard Shane Warne in 1998 to completely negate his big turners, those straight sixes hit off Michael Kasprowicz in Sharjah at around the same time, that high quality test innings played with a frail back against Pakistan in the sapping heat of Chennai in 1999, his savage assault on Glenn McGrath during the ICC knock out trophy in 2000, that six off Shoaib Akhtar at Centurian during the 2003 World Cup as also that dismissive pull off Andy Caddick during the same tournament, that innings at Sydney where he showed tremendous self restraint and did not play a single cover drive. There are so many more of such memories, of his many high class innings, off those very high class shots. Then there are memories of his guile as a bowler – his heroics in the Hero Cup final against South Africa, his bamboozling of the great Brian Lara, his 5’fer against Australia in 1998 as also his 2’fer at a crucial juncture in Australia in 2003. Indeed there are numerous memories associated with him; after all it’s been a long journey that has lasted more than 20 years.

‘If he is not the best then I want to see the best.’

~ David Shepherd, one of the most loved
and respected umpires that the game has seen

Why I consider him among the best is not because of his numbers, statistics cannot be a yardstick alone to judge a man’s greatness. Yes, they give an indication of the brilliance but they cannot judge the genius of a magician. I consider Sachin amongst the very best to have played the game of cricket because he carried the burden of millions, their expectations on his lone shoulders for a very long time. I consider him the greatest because he faced such a remarkable array of bowlers during his glittering career, most of whom would walk straight into the all time best teams of many – consider these to name a few – Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Alan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Shane Bond, Dale Steyn, Saqlain Mustaq, Muttiah Murlitharan, Shane Warne, etc. He faced all these bowlers when they were all at their prime. I consider him the best because of his longevity, his career spans almost 24 years, most of the players who play today were learning to walk when Sachin began his journey.

‘I have seen God; He bats at number 4 for India.’

~ Matthew Hayden, Australian opener referring to the batting position that Sachin occupied in tests for India

Sachin vs Shane Warne

Sachin had many mouth watering duels with Shane Warne

Sachin has had his failures too, he was twice made the captain of India but it was not something which he probably enjoyed. He failed both times, spectacularly. He also suffered batting slumps, some three or four times (which I remember) in his career which is quite excellent considering that he has played for more than 23 years. People wrote him off numerous times but he came back with a vengeance on each occasion. He never looked flustered and always took what people said about him in his stride. He always answered his critics with his bat.

‘He has been in form longer than some of our guys have been alive.’

~ Daniel Vettori, New Zealand left arm spinner and former captain ahead of their India tour in 2010

Sachin Adulation from Fans

Sachin – adored by his fans

I once experienced what it must be like to be in the stands, when the ground is full, when Sachin is out there in the middle. Surprisingly, that match did not even involve India! Sri Lanka was playing New Zealand at Wankhede during the 2011 ICC World Cup and suddenly, during the second innings when New Zealand was batting the entire ground erupted with chants of Saaachin-Sachiiiiin, Saaachin-Sachiiiiin. The roar was defeaning, the crowd delirious in its chanting. I saw cricket fans dancing and shouting their throats hoarse when Sachin was not even at the ground!! I too joined them, the maddening hymn reaching a feverish pitch. This continued for a good 10-15 minutes. The Mumbai crowd had probably got its money’s worth in those few moments when they showered their lad with unabashed love and remembrance. I can only dream about the atmosphere that will prevail at the stadium at the Master Blasters last match. How Mumbai will send off its beloved boy who charmed his way in to the hearts of millions remains to be seen. It will be a very emotional moment, both for the fans as well Sachin himself. Cricket will certainly never be the same again without Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

‘When I heard this news, I felt my heart beat has stopped... the heart- beat of Indian cricket has stopped. I don't have words to praise him and his work. He played a phenomenal innings… He has excelled himself in the game he played and has become a symbol of great excellence for our country.’

~ Amitabh Bachchan, the greatest Indian actor and a big fan of Sachin

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Everyone has a Sachin story to tell, some incident, nostalgia associated with Sachin, some unforgettable memory either while watching him live at the ground or while watching him on TV. What is your Sachin story, please share in the comments section!!

(Picture Credits: 1st, 2nd and 6th images taken from ESPNCricInfo and the rest from Google)

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  1. Wonderful compilation of special Sachin events and comments from peers! That pic when Sachin hit Warne for a six in Sharjah will remain the best of the lot! That match was / is / will for always be epic for me! :)

  2. I used to watch cricket before IPL,and Sachin used to be my only reason to watch.If he was out,I used to be dead sad.Great Article again Arti :)

  3. Indeed Sachin is an icon that will be missed on Indian Cricket arena!

  4. Such a nice tribute to the God of Cricket!
    Sachin Tendulkar deserves it all! Do mail/share a copy with him :)
    Kudos to DS & U! Well-written piece!

  5. I'm the big fans of Sachin, even i don't understand about cricket, still on my list is to get cricket t shirt with his name in the back, but never find it :(

  6. I bow to him the Master--For Him today I know a Game which is a kind of Religion in our Country "India",In my early days When Sachin comes to Bat I literally stands near our Pooja Room and pray to god before any ball..Such was his impact,for I knew once he is out,it is all over for India and Indians..

    I will miss him..The Great Cricketer of this Era and Future Era to come..

  7. Nice picture for the India super hero's Sachin,kapil dev,Azharuddin . Beautiful picture. very nice super......

  8. Nice post! Even though I am not a fan of cricket and Sachin, I respect him for his down to earth nature and his achievements. Well presented with wonderful pictures :)

  9. Nice tribute to the man who defined Indian cricket for the last quarter of a century. Good to see DS hosted here, Arti.

  10. The legend and Icon of Indian cricket will still linger longer after his retirement. Hats off to the little Master he has broken almost all records available in cricket history except for the oldest cricketer to retire, which is probably held by Mike Brearly or Illingworth. Sachin united India like never before with his batting powress after Sardar Patel.

  11. That was an interesting read - and - oh yes...still learning a lot about cricket - and - Tendulkar! Well - written and good pictures:-)

  12. Wow, such a wonderful hostess. Now when Husband dearest and friends talk about this sport I'll feel as though I have something to contribute.

  13. What a wonderful treat to the master blaster... refreshed so many memories...

  14. wonderful post... as a sachin fan i m loving it....

  15. A wonderful tribute to someone who you and your country held very high.

  16. Very nice posting..Sachin is an important milestone in Indian history!

  17. A wonderful tribute, DS. Although we have heard most of those anecdotes many times, I know almost all of them, by heart. Thanks for this refreshing reminder.

    And thank you, Arti for hosting it and tagging me here. :)

  18. Arti, Truly Great tribute to little master #ThankYouSachin

  19. Have never heard of him - but, interesting story! Hopr your week starts snoothly and nicely!

  20. Wonderful article. Cricket will never ever be the same without GOD! Salutations to the master!

  21. Great Article.
    Sachin Is A Book Of Records & God Of The Cricket.....After Him Cricket Will Never Be Such Interesting & My Room Will Never Be Full With Friends.... :(

  22. Yeah, he was a run machine alright. This is a very nice article with a very personal point of view.There is no doubt that some of Sachin's records will last a heck of a long time. As a batsman, purely, he was complete run maker, with an insatiable appetite and unbounded talent for scoring.

    As a complete cricketer, as a captain, as some with strategic ability, though, I think, he was not the best in the world. I wrote an article when he retired, which I believe may be a little controversial and tad contrarian.

    You can read it here: https://leggielefty.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/run-machine-or-cricketer/


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