Retired sports stars often struggle to build a life away from the game, but for record-breaking cricketer Sachin Tendulkar the transition will be particularly painful.
The batsman admitted he never imagined life beyond cricket as he pursued his passion for most of his 40 years -- more
than half of them as an international player.
"All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India. I have been living this dream every day for the last 24 years," Tendulkar said Thursday as he announced his retirement.
"It's hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because it's all I have ever done since I was 11 years old."
The batsman, who said he will retire after playing his 200th Test next month, will at least not have to worry about where his next rupee is coming from.
The multi-millionaire is listed by Forbes among the world's highest-paid sportspersons, with annual earnings of $18.6 million -- $16.5 million from endorsements and $2.1 million from cricket -- in the financial year that ended in June.
Tendulkar, who has millions of devoted fans, already serves in India's parliament, the first active sportsperson to do so. But the veteran will almost certainly be offered a job as a commentator, while former cricketers are hoping he takes up coaching.
Tendulkar accepted a government offer last year to take up a seat in parliament's upper house. The special category is usually reserved for those contributing to the arts, sciences or social services.
Many were surprised that someone who has steered clear of controversy had decided to enter India's muck-raking world of politics, but Tendulkar was determined to make his six-year tenure count.
"I am in a better position not only to help cricket but also other sports in the country," he said soon after his swearing-in last June.
"I would be happy if I am remembered as someone who has contributed to all sports in India rather than just my cricket statistics."
A lucrative career in television commentary is an option for Tendulkar, following in the footsteps of a host of international cricketers.
He would be in good company alongside former team-mates like Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri, Sanjay Manjrekar, Navjot Sidhu, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly.
The soft-spoken introvert may not be an ideal candidate, but a senior TV executive said production houses will still queue up to sign the "Little Master".
"Sachin is too big a player not to attract TV companies," said the executive, who did not want to be named. "What he says is worth its weight in gold."
Kapil, who played alongside Tendulkar in the Indian team from 1989 to 1994, hoped the master batsman would devote some time to coaching young players.
"Sachin will have many options before him, but I wish he will also spare time to pass on his invaluable knowledge to youngsters," Kapil told AFP. "They will hang on to every word of his."
Tendulkar misses no opportunity these days to spend time with wife Anjali and their two children, Sara and Arjun, which effectively rules out a travelling job with the Indian team in the immediate future.
Charity work will also take up Tendulkar's time, especially his sponsorship of 200 underprivileged children every year through Apnalaya, a Mumbai-based NGO associated with his mother-in-law, Annabel Mehta.
He has also helped to raise funds for cancer research and the building of basic facilities in government schools across the country, especially toilets for girl students.
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