His form in the last one year was painful for everybody. His footwork looked vulnerable and his confidence looked extremely low. His failures were bothering all his fans who wanted him to leave on a high and despite numerous reports about his retirement, the heart wanted Tendulkar to play forever. Yes, we knew it was coming and we thought we were prepared for it. But despite knowing everything, the moment the news of his retirement broke, the world came to a standstill as the first question which might have come to the minds of the most of the fans – “How will we watch cricket without Tendulkar?” The kid in the Little Master decided to finally hang his boots leaving the kid within us in a state of shock, as we realised, we were never prepared for this news.
It was the end of cricket for many fans as Tendulkar announced his decision to retire from Tests after playing his 200th Test against West Indies. The legend’s decision to quit professional cricket came as a blow for most of us as he had recently refuted reports which said he was asked to take a call on his decision by the BCCI. But the Little Master listened to his heart, and broke millions of them that were passionate towards the game just because he was there.
“What’s the score? Is Tendulkar there?” – were two questions anybody would ask whenever India played cricket in the last two decades. People who didn’t even know about cricket were sure of just one fact – India can’t lose until Tendulkar is unbeaten at the crease. They knew Sachin was a run-machine and it was the pleasure of watching him bat that made cricket such a popular sport in India.
There are now the likes of Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma who are a talented bunch and are expected to carry forward the legacy left by Tendulkar. But no matter how many runs, centuries they score, it is impossible for them to provide the kind of entertainment Tendulkar has during these 24 years. They might become run-machines, they might even break some of Sachin’s records, but they still can’t get even close to the respect he has earned all across the globe, even from his arch-rivals, for whom his wicket was a prized possession.
The critics have often spoken of what Tendulkar hasn’t done for cricket and for times where he didn’t take a stand on controversies. Why can’t these people see what he has done to Indian cricket? Kids who aren’t sure whether they would even make it to the state level, work day and night because one day they want to play like Tendulkar. Their role model has brought several laurels for the country and they want to themselves make some contribution. Kids who are deprived of a bat and a ball use a stick and rolled paper, because they are deeply in love with the game and the man who has made it extremely popular in India. Why do we have to focus just on what hasn’t been done? There is no point in talking about what the batting legend hasn’t done for cricket, and if it has to be discussed, it should only be done after remembering the valuable laurels Tendulkar has brought for the country.
In our country, each and every athlete who makes the country proud on an international level is hailed. Athletes who have won just one medal at the Olympics are till date remembered for their commitment. We know we don’t have the best infrastructure as compared to countries like China and Australia. Thus when an athlete makes our country proud, it not only sends an adrenaline rush into the veins of the countrymen, but also inspires several others to excel in their respective sport. Considering all these aspects, Tendulkar’s career looks monumental out of which different athletes derive different kind of inspiration.
Despite his failures, given a choice, Indian cricket fans would have wanted to Tendulkar play forever just for the sheer entertainment he has blessed us with in the last 24 years.
They say good things come in small packages. Tendulkar was one tiny package who stunned the cricket fraternity with his hard work and determination which made him the world’s best batsman. But they also say, every good thing comes to an end. And thus it’s the end of an era, end of the irreplaceable entertainment provided by the legendary genius batsman.
Cricket will continue. But most of us will probably have to find a new reason to watch it.