Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is more than just a name. A revolution, a renaissance, a hope. A man who has provided immense hope and cheer to our nation. A nation that often struggles to find individuals who inspire and motivate them. And to do this successfully for 24 years is an achievement on its own.
At 14, Sachin wanted to become a fast bowler.
At 14, Sachin was selected to represent Mumbai in the
At 14, Sachin and Vinod Kambli shared a partnernship
of 664 runs in an interschool game.
At 14, Sachin was a ball boy in the 1987 World Cup
(India vs. England).
At 14, Sachin began writing history…
From as much as I remember, Tendulkar WAS cricket for me. Never in my life, I missed a chance to watch him bat. Sitting in a kirana store (local all-needs neighbourhood shop) in my college days in Indore to a luxurious hotel lounge in Gurgaon, I have obsessively witnessed the man (God?) wield his magic wand and mesmerise the world. I don’t know about the world but my world certainly used to come to a standstill when Sachin held the bat and played those masterstrokes that only he could. And when he got out, my world was shattered, I didn’t speak straight for a few hours still recovering from the deadly jolt that God gave me. How can he get out, he is invincible, I thought. And then consoled myself attributing his error in judgment to his ‘human’ instincts that most of us tend to forget at times. On other occasions it was my barrage of expletives for the non-Indian umpire that I believe wrongly signalled him out, denying me a chance of watching god perform on a cricket pitch.
I always wondered what his mantra for success was. God-gifted talent? Yes, for sure. But that doesn’t alone guarantee the phenomenal success that he achieved. What was it that made him surge ahead of millions and become an epitome of success and a benchmark for cricketing records? And then I remembered something that I read during my MBA days (which, was pretty weird since I don’t remember much of it!). It was this definition of a Level 5 leader – a leader, an individual that was the epitome of ultimate inspiration and resolve. The success of such individuals is very uncomplicatedly attributed to two factors – personal humility and professional will. Yes! That was it. Besides being incredibly talented and extremely focused on his game, Sachin Tendulkar till date has the same humbleness and humility that he had as a 16-year-old walking on the field in his first international match. That IS what sets him apart. After almost all the records under his belt, he doesn’t let it get it into his head. And THAT is why he is so special.
He could have easily played for a couple of years more. I blame the media and a handful of critics for his retirement decision. Cynics wanted to drag him down to their level of mediocrity that we lesser mortals are so used to. But it wasn’t fair. Age is just a number and gods never age!
Before his last innings in Mumbai I wished he scored his last century, stamping a befitting end to an unparalleled cricketing career. But then I stopped and said to myself that for once, for ONCE I should stop expecting from the man. For 24 years millions of us have done that and HE has always lived up to it. The way he played his last innings of 74 runs, studded with his trademark shots and finesse that only he can execute was absolutely magical. I watched him and questioned myself, “Why, just why does he want to retire?” He played better than half the jokers playing international cricket today and could have gone on playing for at least a couple of years more.
I don’t have the answer to this question but I found the answer to his success yet again when he broke away from the crowd, ran to the pitch and touched it for one last time. You could see tears in his eyes and for the first time ever I found him vulnerable and weak. For all the smiles and cheer he gave me for the past 24 years, I couldn’t let him cry alone. I cried with him. We cried with him, as we celebrated his career.
Thank you Sachin, I will miss you dearly.
(Words: Vishal Naithani & Artwork: Manoj Nath/Sanket Jack)
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