Like every other sport, cricket has seen players of every kind. There have been great cricketers, legendary cricketers and then there is Sachin Tendulkar, in a league of his own. To say Sachin Tendulkar is another great cricketer would be a huge understatement. He is the single biggest reason to have made cricket what it is today.
Today when Sachin Tendulkar brought an end to one of the most glorious careers the world of sports has ever seen, a plethora of emotions are coming out of every cricket fan. The journey that started 24 years ago when, as a sixteen-year-old kid he entered the National Stadium Karachi, is finally coming to a halt.
Sachin Tendulkar has never been only a cricketer; he has always been something more – a larger-than-life figure.
To understand what Tendulkar is to Indians, let’s go back to the early 90s and see what was happening in India. The country was going through a serious financial crisis; terrorism was rampant in every corner of the country, for an average Indian it was a big fight to get food two times a day, internal conflicts were jarring the country. Even the Bollywood movies used to be depressing those days – the 80s to early 90s period is considered as the worst era of the Indian film industry.
The Indian cricket team was also nothing out of the ordinary those days. They had almost made it a custom to get thrashed by every other team.
And then comes a kid, not even 20 years old, who blows away the whole nation with his performances and unintentionally promises to carry the burden of the entire nation on his shoulders without complaining. That kid who had just come out of his teenage was the biggest hope of the country.
There has always been an argument about Tendulkar’s ability to win matches. If one looks closely at that time, Tendulkar used to fight lone battles. Many times he would end up stranded at one end of the pitch, watching his colleagues falling apart in a heap.
That was the time when India was considered a one-man army. His success, without getting much support from his team-mates, was the very reason that made Tendulkar the darling of the nation. He gives the country hope, a reason to smile and belief that success can be achieved against the odds.
In India, it has never been about cricket; it has always been about Tendulkar. People shutting off their television sets once he gets out was the most common practice across the country.
India is famous for its different cultures, different set of people, and its variety of food. Yet people of one state talking rubbish about their fellow countrymen from different states is atrociously common. But whether you are in Chandigarh or Bangalore or Trivandrum or Kolkata or Mumbai, you won’t hear a single word against Tendulkar. No religion, no politician, no movie star, no sports star can unite India the way Sachin Tendulkar does.
The crowd-pulling power of Tendulkar is unmatched. He alone is enough to unite a nation divided by caste, creed and religion.
Every shot that he plays on the cricket field is like poetry in motion. Every time he walks on to the cricket field he induces goose-bumps in our stomachs. Every time he removes his helmet after reaching a milestone, the whole country celebrates with him. Every time his head goes down after getting out, the whole country sobs with him.
So what makes Sachin Tendulkar what he is today?
One of the reasons for his big fan following has been his off-field behaviour. He has always been very particular about his lifestyle. When not playing, no one would know his whereabouts. He has lived an almost controversy-free life. His is a closely knitted family and he has always been looked upon as a family man, kind of like a man a father would want his daughter to marry.
He exudes confidence and a sense of security. He makes an average Indian believe that everything can be achieved.
After you suffer a bad in office or screw up a test in college, he brings a smile to your face and the confidence that tomorrow would be better.
One month later we won’t see him playing cricket. It is a tough time for a cricket fan. For the people of my generation who have always associated cricket with Sachin Tendulkar, it would be immensely difficult to imagine the sport with no Sachin Tendulkar.
Yes, this news is tough on an average cricket fan. Yes, it would be hard for me to wake up without the hope of watching Sachin Tendulkar play. Yes, I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks when I heard the news. Yet this is a time to cherish and thank him for bringing joy in our tedious monotonous lives.
I do not know how the cricket world would be without the hope of watching Tendulkar play but I’m more than happy that I saw him play. I can proudly say I live in the Sachin Tendulkar era.
Thank you Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar!
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