I'm just an ordinary fan. Just like the millions in
Like every other fan of yours, I can easily list down a few great innings of yours from memory. I woke at 6 in the morning, just in time to catch what I believe was the innings that transformed not just yourself, but the 50-over game itself. Yes, that unbelievable 49-ball 82 at
For a man like you, with 100 international centuries and several other match-winning half-centuries, there is clearly no dearth of stories as far as your exploits on the field go. Yet, I seem to know very little about Sachin Tendulkar, the man. The 16-year old boy who'd take one train after the other, to go from one maidan to another, if only to get many more run-making opportunities in a day, at an age when boys would bunk their tuition classes only to catch an
But then you were always human, weren't you. How could I forget the painful loss at Chennai against
As humans in a civil society, we never dare to ask a man his salary, or a lady her age. And yet, we have the nerve to ask you when you're retiring for good. Inappropriate or insensitive as it may be. Even your strongest of supporters who fought countless arguments on your behalf, seem to have joined the doubters. And now that you have retired from ODIs, you have once again attracted much more attention on yourself, and inadvertently shielded a system that was never meant to produce world champions anyway.
The truth of the matter is, people will never let you be. As long as you play, your intentions will always be in doubt. You may have been the second best batsmen on the failed tours of
Maybe it's time to explore other aspects of life that you've missed out on over the last 39 years. Maybe it's time to forget about cricket and try your hand at something else you've always wanted to do. Cooking, singing, or even playing PS3. Maybe it's time to forget about what the press says now, and remember some of the best things written about you. Quoting Time Magazine, "When Sachin Tendulkar travelled to Pakistan to face one of the finest bowling attacks ever assembled in cricket, Michael Schumacher was yet to race an F1 car, Lance Armstrong had never been to the Tour de France, Diego Maradona was still the captain of a world champion Argentina team, (and) Pete Sampras had never won a Grand Slam. When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company, Roger Federer was a name unheard of; Lionel Messi was in his nappies, Usain Bolt was an unknown kid in the Jamaican backwaters. The Berlin Wall was still intact,
But then you were always a champion. You have possibly never thought of anything else other than cricket. For you, retiring from the game is perhaps as bad as death itself. Many before you have tried to fight the inevitable, before they eventually gave in. But don't worry. It's not a submission as much as it is an act of accepting reality. You do not owe anybody an explanation. In your time, you've made children complete their homework early, teenagers to take up a sport, the youth to write about cricket, the middle-aged to forget about their worries in life, and the old feel happy to be alive. And for all that you've given us, I can only offer you two words of mine - Thank You!
I know you still have some Tests left. I know you'll perhaps want to go back to being that 16-year old who knew no fear. Maybe there's still a new Avataar of Sachin Tendulkar awaiting to burst out on the field once the Aussies visit India in March. It's difficult to say what lies in store for you. But whatever unfolds, you can can be rest assured that this will not be the last time you'll hear the familiar chant that's separated by three claps.
SACHIN...SACHIN...(clap! clap! clap!)
Your Fan for life.