Considering the long season of retirements we are in, the best thing about Sachin Tendulkar’s announcement is he will bid farewell on the pitch.
Unlike the exits of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman after just farewell media conferences, the occasion of Tendulkar’s record 200th Test will give thousands of his fans — the venue for this West Indies match may not be too significant beyond the BCCI politics around it — the opportunity to watch Indian cricket’s talisman one last time and give him a standing ovation.
There will surely be many moist eyes, the sentiment a tribute to the various roles the batting great has donned over the years.
A curly-haired boy, fresh from making an instant mark in hostile Pakistan, was held back from the next tour to protect him from facing a potent West Indies pace attack on home turf.
Tendulkar soon proved the Board was being overprotective, and steadily climbed from the lower half of the Test batting order to make the No 4 spot his own before perhaps becoming the biggest draw in turning one-day cricket into the money spinner it became.
While Tendulkar’s place in the pantheon of batting greats has been long assured, the value he brought into the team would stand out long after the retirement of a player who ticked all the boxes and owns a set of statistics that is unlikely to go out of fashion.
But beyond the runs he has made, and the manner in which he set the agenda for innings, Tendulkar was not a reclusive genius that Brian Lara became in a crumbling West Indies side.
At his prime, which lasted a cool decade and a half, he never shied away from toiling even when the team appeared to be going under.
In a side where the likes of Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly were still settling down, if the pressure of expectations was unbearable, Tendulkar learned to internalise it.
If he felt some of his team mates won praise a bit too easily because he was always expected to do much more, there was no emotion or public comment to draw conclusions from.
For sheer effort, class, determination and Tendulkar’s sense of occasion, the 136 against Pakistan in the Chennai Test in 1999 will stand up there. He almost carried India to victory, but for back spasms — Tendulkar’s first major injury and caused by the wear and tear of constant playing — that led to his dismissal and a lower order collapse.
He was the one the nation looked up to when the match-fixing scandal broke in 2000.
In the end, one just got the feeling that by staying on, he was no longer the master of his game.
But Tendulkar’s reluctance to walk away after the 2011 World Cup high could perhaps be attributed to perceived uncertainties after cricket, having remained in a cocoon since he was a 16-year-old, first insulated from distractions by senior teammates and then having to keep his sanity in the wake of the prolonged Tendulkar mania.
Sachin's comrades, coaches remember him
Sachin Tendulkar's genius can't be explained in words
Sachin Tendulkar will be remembered more than anyone else in the history of Indian sports. His retirement is a reminder that even a genius has a life span and can’t go on forever. Read more.
Sachin's peerless love for cricket defined him: VVS Laxman
The way he has carried himself is the real Tendulkar experience, says VVS Laxman. The Hyderabadi batsman spoke about his friend's love for cricket after the latter announced his retirement. Read more.
A world where Sachin Tendulkar doesn’t play
I’m not a cricket junkie. Records and stats don’t trip off my tongue like cover driven full tosses. But the news of Sachin Tendulkar announcing that he will retire after playing his 200th Test match next month against the West Indies is an epochal moment for the cricket laity and clergy alike. Read more.
Achrekar wants to see pupil play live one last time
As news trickled in that Sachin Tendulkar had announced his retirement, his childhood coach, Ramakant Achrekar, sat glued to the television, watching each visual intently. Read more.
Sachin always worked hardest at practice: Chandu Borde
I saw him for the first time, and his interest in cricket really surprised me. He was always the first person to be on the field for practice and always the last to leave. Read more.
Better human than batsman: Harbhajan
Even in the real world, Harbhajan Singh is one Sachin Tendulkar’s closest friends. They share a special bond that strengthened when Tendulkar stood by him during the 2008 Monkeygate episode. Read more.