Uttering that Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is more than a name would be stating the obvious. So when on 24th February, 2010, the Little Master descended on what was until now, an uncharted territory in the realms of cricket- that of scoring a double century in a one day international; the euphoria that engulfed not just the entire country, not just even the entire cricket community, or even the entire sports fraternity, but everyone across the spheres of life, was hardly a surprise.
Accolades flew thick and fast.
From the President of India to the Prime Minister, all hailed the Run-Machine. Rarely do the Congress Party, the BJP and the Left speak in a single tone. But they did, as they bowed to the Almighty of the game, a 5 ft 4 inch dynamo from Mumbai who has simply captured the imagination of the nation for more than two decades now.
Also overwhelmed were the former greats of the cricket. Be it the original ‘Little Master’ - Sunil Gavaskar or Ravi S
hastri. From Javed Miandad to Shane Warne. The ‘been there done that’ fellows watched with bated breath, Tendulkar’s sojourn as he ticked off yet another milestone to his name.
Warne tweeted that he ‘was glad not to be bowling to his good friend Sachin’ while Miandad renewed his membership to the Tendulkar fan club.
Adulation poured in from across nationalities.
India and Pakistan have not been enjoying the best of relations and the tensions had spilled over onto the cricket field as well, when the Men in Green were apparently snubbed by the team owners at the Indian Premier League’s auction. Accusations and counter accusations dominated headlines.
But yet another moment of magic from Tendulkar’s bat blurred the differences, at least for a while. The star batsman was a ‘role model’ for Shoaib Malik as well as ‘an inspiration’ for Pakistan’s hockey legend Sohail Abbas.
Saeed Anwar had no regrets in losing his record to Tendulkar. ‘If any person deserved to do better than me, it was Tendulkar,’ he said. Tendulkar’s appeal had cut across not just national boundaries, but also across the sporting spectrum.
Toast of the cricketing world not for the first time, Tendulkar embraced the spotlight with the typical humility that has endeared him to even the fiercest of rivals.
India shares more than a cricketing rivalry with Australia. It shares a special bond of love for beloved Sachin Tendulkar.
One still recalls, even during India’s ill-tempered tour of Australia in 2007-08, when a fresh controversy sprung after almost every drinks break, if there was anyone who stood tall over the ugliness and animosity between the two teams, it was Tendulkar.
The ‘Ageless Warrior’ was subjected to a reception similar to the one that the Australian public would have reserved for a Steve Waugh or a Ricky Ponting.
The British media, still scathing after India pulled the rug from beneath England’s feet viz-a-viz reaping commercial benefits from Twenty20, tried to fathom ‘The Kohinoor’s legacy.
South Africans hate losing. But the impression one got at Gwalior, while watching Tendulkar’s magnum opus unfold, was that the word ‘hate’ had lost its relevance. They seemed happy counting their blessings after witnessing history being created from such close-quarters.
Tendulkar’s phenomena have rarely been restricted to sports buffs.
Twenty fours hours later, Sachin Tendulkar was still being hotly discussed between my housemaid and watchman. Both insisted on a
baksish to commemorate Tendulkar’s latest record-breaking feat.
A whole nation has been smitten by the boyish charm of the now 36-year old. A banner held by spectators during a cricket match perhaps sums up perfectly what Sachin Tendulkar stands for as far as his fans are concerned.
It said, ‘I might see God when I die…but until then I will settle for Sachin.’
(The views expressed by the author are personal)