Bidding adieu to the Masterblaster
So the God of Cricket has at last announced his intention to retire from test cricket, after his 200th match against the West Indies in November. It’s hard to imagine Indian cricket without Sachin Tendulkar, although his contemporaries such as Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Mohammed Azharuddin have long hung up their boots, preferring to sit in the pavilion and watch the game unfold in the field. Tendulkar’s unusually long and extraordinarily sparkling career, spanning over two decades, is something India will always cherish. With his mammoth 15,837 runs in 198 Tests at an average of 53.86, the ‘Little Master’, as he is fondly called by his millions of fans worldwide, remains unbeaten as one of cricket’s finest ambassadors, at ease with all forms of the match, be it the ODIs, the tests and the latest craze amongst the aficionados, the T20. Even Tendulkar himself confesses that life would be hard without playing on the field, although several other players have since their retirements gone into coaching the youngsters. Evidently, the masterblaster, who holds the incredible record of scoring 100 international centuries, a feat unequaled by any other in the sport, has been struggling with his form for the past two years, having crossed the age of 40 recently. Naturally, the pressure to make away for a younger cricketer is something that the sport’s living legend has been battling for a while now, with commentators, cricket buffs and others spending reams of newsprints to debate when exactly should he have called it a day. However, if his contemporaries are asked about Tendulkar’s contribution to the sport, everyone, including Brian Lara, Shane Warne, Mark and Steve Waugh, Imran Khan, Inzamam ul Haq among others, would only agree in unison how there couldn’t be any other like him.
While reports are coming in that Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium would host Tendulkar’s farewell match, the fated 200th test match, a fitting finale to the grandmaster’s brilliant and 24-year-long innings, India prepares to comprehend cricket without its national hero. Undoubtedly, cricket’s recent chapters have been tainted by the IPL scams, with spot-fixing and match-fixing dominating the headlines and media space. However, it is the undiluted genius of Sachin Tendulkar that puts the zing back into the crass commercial enterprise that cricket has become of late. While experts and pundits have wondered if Tendulkar, perhaps the greatest player to hold a bat, had been a mediocre captain, or even a team player, whose presence in the green room often ended up inhibiting the others who played alongside, the cricketers, young and old, have vehemently rubbished those allegations of arrogance and self-promotion against him. Even Mahindra Singh Dhoni, India’s most successful captain, had to confess that the 2011 ICC world Cup was a gift for Sachin, since in his long career, the world cup was the only goal post that eluded the Little Master. Evidently, even as opinion columnists criticise the inordinate delay in Sachin’s hanging up his boots, what we must concede that even in his diminished form, Sachin Tendulkar can outplay almost any cricket worth his bat or ball. As the God of cricket signs off in a month from now, we are left twiddling our thumb and wondering if there would anyone else matching Tendulkar’s flamboyance, class, charisma, style, consistency and diligence in cricket.