S Tendulkar – Not One In Millions, But One In Millenniums
If you didn’t already know, I assume you have been hibernating somewhere in northern Siberia with no television in your igloo, no Internet and possibly no food (and deservedly so)! Sachin Tendulkar is retiring… no…. has almost retired! He is already playing his last test right now (has got out on 74 in his first innings) and just 3 more days later, irrespective of whether he may or may not get to bat again, I will see him play no more!
Let me just catch a breath here, for I am positively overcome with grief. I am distraught!
Yes, the man, GOD, who has many more achievements than just his records, is on the verge of calling it quits and I cannot find my sleep again till I have worded out my thoughts, thoughts other than ‘I love you Sachin’ that is.
Say’s It All Doesn’t It?
Why The World Loves Sachin
Yes, the whole world rants and raves about his records. It sings odes to his charismatic strokes and flamboyant drives. It pays tribute to his 24 long years of unfaltering and dedicated service to Indian Cricket. Yes, everyone loves Sachin for his cricket but why the world loves him that little bit extra is because of the following:
·He unites a billion people (and that is a conservative number). There is no ‘mein Hindu tu Muslim’ when he bats, there is no ‘mein Brahmin, tu Dalit’, when he plays and there is no ‘mein from Mumbai, tu from Haryana’ when he hits. For a nation that has innumerable divisions and discriminations, he is and has always been the one absolute uniting force. When he bats, we are all Indians, just Indians and so so proud to be!
·For the world’s largest middle class, he symbolizes the quintessential ‘self made’ man. He is the very reminder that hard work and fair play can make all dreams come true, especially for people running to their 9 to 5 jobs but dreaming of making it big. If a shy little Mumbai boy of no ‘Tata’, ‘Ambani’ background can make it so big on the world canvas, why can’t you and I?
·There is a special note for the personality. Everyone loved his boyish charms when he was just a boy, but even when he grew up into the fine man that he is now, he never lost it one iota. He is still the camera shy, charmingly boyish, absolutely focused and determined boy who had always loved cricket and cricket only. It is nothing short of amazing how a quite little boy who always let his ‘bat do the talking’ (even when people were abusive, were making ‘retire him’ war-cries or were burning effigies) who made such a place in our hearts. I mean, this man had none of the ‘shirt-waving’ audacity that Ganguly had, no cuttingly sarcastic or satirical comebacks a la Dhoni, no penchant to make authoritative statements that voice opinions like Gavaskar, and yet, he is ‘the man’ that held our hearts for 24 long years.
·Cricket had always been called the gentleman’s game but with the gentlemen being fewer and far between, it was Sachin who supported that mantle and left the game deserving its epithet. No amount of Australian “a little healthy sledging” (well they call it healthy sledging, I call it ‘a-below-the-belt strategy’), no amount of behind leg side bowling strategies (remember Ashley Giles?? England??), no amount of inventive umpiring (a la Steve Bucknor, David Shepherd) and no amount of public statements via the mode of biographies (publicity tactics if you ask me, but Shoeb Akhtar and Adam Gilchrist probably won’t, ask me that is) can get this man to stoop to washing dirty linen in public. I have never seen it, and now I probably never will.
·You can only truly test a man’s character when you put him through fire they say. I remember there being only two blotches in Sachin’s otherwise sterling career. An old ‘ball tampering’ accusation and a tag of being a ‘liar’ in the infamous monkey gate scandal. Even when these accusations were being hurled, the media was capitalizing on the debates and people were instigating with thinly veiled insinuations, this great man maintained his dignity. He handled these scandals the way he handled everything else… by doing what he does best… playing cricket and letting everything else fall its course. Other than a handful Australians and a few Paki bowlers (maybe even Ramiz Raja), no one even recalls these today.
So, did Sachin play cricket? I wouldn’t really know. I mean I did watch him all these years (he is the reason I follow cricket today) and I did cry when I met him (that’s a story for another day) and I did fast for him (during his bad days) and I did pray for him (like everyone else does) and I did do superstitious rituals whenever he came out to bat!! Ufff I did all that and so much more… but it is not simply for his cricket. It is for the man.
12 Years Younger…
I know now, that apart from the first few years of my fandom, which were about his cricket, all the other years have been for the man! Yes, he is just a gifted batsman with unparalleled talent… but what he really has, no one else does… absolutely no one else…. and that is humilty! Was he pre-destined for greatness? Most definitely… but even pre-destined greatness has to be earned. It is his life-long process of earning his value that leaves me admiring him now and forever after.
I don’t claim to be his best fan or his longest one, but I do claim to be one of his most consistent ones. For being that one loyal, die-hard fan of his, I claim one prize in return. The right to remain his loyal fan all through my life, even well post his retirement. For it is true what they say, ‘Gods Don’t Retire’ and he will never retire for me!
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