Sir Garfield Sobers won't be visiting India to watch Sachin Tendulkar bid goodbye to the sport.
Sobers, widely regarded as the greatest all-round cricketer ever, won't be part of the contingent flying halfway across the world to comment on "the biggest cricketing story since Sir Donald Bradman's retirement", as one senior English journalist put it.
"Everything was set. I was going to make it (to India). I wanted to watch the little master go. But it's a little too late now. I couldn't process the visa in time," Sobers told HT from Barbados on Monday. Sobers, 77, last met Tendulkar in Mumbai in 2010.
"Now that he's retiring, I will hopefully spend some time with him in the future and discuss cricket," joked the Bajan legend.
Sobers was initially invited by the Cricket Association of Bengal to be a part of Tendulkar's 199th Test that begins on Wednesday. But why wasn't Sobers' visa ready on time? "We have not been communicated anything exactly, you have to wait for a few days," was CAB president, Jagmohan Dalmiya's, response.
"When the news came to me that I won't be coming, I thought to myself that it's unfortunate. I really would have loved to come. But later I realised that it's just the way it is. Not everything is under my control. This situation can't be helped due to the circumstances. So I will just have to watch him (Tendulkar) on television," said Sobers.
With Sobers' comment "not everything is under my control" begs the question, is there more than meets the eye here? Even Sobers' agent told HT that "certain logistics could not be worked out."
Sobers revealed that he wanted to be a part of the occasion. "The minute I heard about the retirement, I wanted to come down. I am glad he's retiring against the West Indies. This will be a part of history books," said Sobers, who scored 8032 runs and took 235 wickets in a career that ended against England in 1974.
Sobers said his greatest moment with Tendulkar was presenting him the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy (for finishing the highest run-getter) at the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.
"I enjoyed sharing stage with Sachin that day. He batted tremendously well in that tournament. Tendulkar, to me, is more than just an Indian great. He's to be treasured by world cricket too."
Sir Donald Bradman, the greatest-ever batsman, passed the torch to George Headley, affectionately referred to as Black Bradman.
When Headley left in 1954, Sobers arrived to take over as the best in the world. Sobers passed the torch to Vivian Richards and Richards passed it to Tendulkar. Who's next? "Tendulkar leaving the game marks a new beginning of sorts. The best is leaving," signed off Sobers.