It is all over, just refuses to leave your side. Flip channels on television and there it is. Go through newspapers and website and it is as omnipresent, just like KRK’s review. People are talking about it and you cannot escape it even if you go to Mars because now we have sent Mangalayan there. Sachin Tendulkar retires and suddenly people go overboard with emotions, probably more than they did when the prices of tomatoes went spiraling high. Onions, anyways, were reserved for tears. National passion turns into an obsession which blow up Sachin’s obsession ten times over. Do not get me wrong. I am a Sachin fan and have done the necessary part of behaving like a typical female fan – calling his house, putting his posters all over the room like wallpaper and murdered a few thousand Tendlya bashers. But now it seems to take the pleasure from watching our Sacchu enjoy his last match. The limit has been crossed and trampled on. But that remains to be much debated on the culverts of Shaniwar Wada with the winner getting shaal and shriphal (shawl and coconut, if you did not understand this typically Puneri lingo). Let’s have a naïve look at this phenomenon called Sachin Tendulkar, from the eyes of someone who saw him begin his career and is seeing him retire in one go.
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Yes, the fact states that 1989 was the year when the child prodigy stuck terror for India. A curly mop won our hearts, with his game and looks. But what I remember of this moppet was his confidence and a certain calm, apart from the fact that he was the cutest thing in cricket. Suddenly, amidst doyens, there was a worthy pin-up boy who could play fantastic cricket too. It was not that cricket did not have any idols when Sachin came on the scene. But as a the times were changing with the new India’s economic changes waiting to explode the country and its young crowd getting a new life, it needed a hero. And it came in the form of our Tendlya. Going into the cricket details would be better done by experts. His attributes to greatness includes his one-minded passion for the game, simplicity, humility and a life which most can give an example of. 24 years is a huge number in the sporting world where a career rises or falls with every match. Most people especially post economic boom and the 90s kids probably had a lot on their platter but no one to be a role model. That is where Sachin came into picture. He played fantastic cricket – good for the budding cricketers. He won matches fair and square – good for Indian cricket. And he lived a life which probably could be called aspiring and honest – a winner for everyone. And that is where his success lies – being big and yet very much like one of us.
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Now, coming to the truth which might hurt some… so keep the dettol and band-aid closer. He was a player and he had to retire. Period. He played well, really well, for himself and the team. But he had to and has to retire. And just like the Indian team existed before him, it will exist after him too. Each generation had a hero to look up to. After Sacchu’s retirement, another name will come to be hero-worshiped. And then you will hear Sachin praising that cricketer. For 24 years, we saw Sachin lift the Indian cricket team on his shoulders and he deserves to retire without getting a feel that the team will break into hundred pieces like Vinod Kambli’s tears during 1996 World Cup semi-final. As a fan who loves his style of cricket but is not obsessed, I would want this obsession to stop – rather retire on a high with millions of fans than being ridiculed and asked to go out. Where are the tissues? Sob.
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Now with Sachin Tendulkar hanging up his boots literally, cricket will still go being a religion in India. But now we can go on being a little naïve and start to think that other sports will benefit from this lack of superstar in cricket. Sure, we have Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and the works. But none can match the charisma and stature of Sacchu. Other sports probably can build on this point and raise their points in supporting winners who not only attract crowds but also the much needed money. Till the next Sachin comes on the cricket scene, we hope that Indian sports can start a race to being a sporting superpower.
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