Last week, I was going through the files of the Indian Express, the paper I worked with for 16 years from 1979 to 1996. One of the match reports I had filed and which I read with keen interest was the one in which Sachin Tendulkar figured as a 15-year-old kid, playing for West Zone in the quiet Himachal Pradesh town of Una in 1988.
I still remember the cherubic face, and his batting failure in that match. He scored just ten runs and yet merited a paragraph in that report, which spoke of his batting skills as if he had scored a century.
A couple of days back, I messaged Tendulkar about that match and wrote, “how time flies!” His reply was a smilie, and little did I realise then that he was soon going to announce his retirement from Test cricket.
Oh, yes, time flies fast and spares no one, neither the great nor the ordinary. And if you happen to be a sportsman, no matter how great, or “The Greatest” like Tendulkar, a day has to come when the limbs get tired and muscles refuse to respond. The mind may be willing, but the body is not. That it happened to Tendulkar as well is a reminder that even a genius has a life span and can’t go on forever.
It will be pointless here to delve in detail about his genius, which even otherwise would be impossible to describe in words.
Indians love everything to be larger than life, be it their film stars or cricketers. And if there was one man who manifested all these qualities, it has to be him.
More runs than anyone else in the history of the game, more centuries than anyone else and more matches than anyone has played in the history of the game. And be sure, he will be remembered more than anyone else in the history of Indian sports.