Sachin Tendulkar's prolonged retirement from all forms of cricket has finally come full circle. On October 10th, 2013 Tendulkar informed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that he shall hang up his boots after playing in his 200th test in November at the Wankhede against the West Indies. Tendulkar had already announced his retirement from one-day cricket and T20 earlier.
It made poignant reading in today's newspapers; out of the verbiage the little master's words stood out, telling us of the Sachin Tendulkar of the present,"It's hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket...it's all I have ever done since I was 11."
With the announcement many childhood memories have slid to nostalgia mode. Much has changed since Tendulkar's 1989 test debut against Pakistan. Test match cricket was king then, in 2013 the format is threatened with the commercial, marketing blitz and assured financial ticket that T20 and IPL have become for cricketers and cricket control boards.
Sachin in our lives
In all our years of childhood, adolescence and youth, Sachin Tendulkar stood out as a folk hero and a very tangible one for that. The advent of quality television broadcasting, improved camera angles and commentary also provided an enhanced view to the proceedings. Here was a sporting hero whose exploits we could experience at the time that it was happening.
Older generations will thus understand our disconnection when they say that Sunil Gavaskar was a better batsman. We just weren't around when Gavaskar was straight driving and playing without the helmet, facing fearsome bowling attacks. Sachin Tendulkar was inevitably in many of our life moments, a surge in each masterly shot he played, the affirmation that things were possible.
More than Tendulkar's genius it was the intensity and confidence that stood out. Between expectation and fulfillment of all our dreams, Tendulkar was the sole bridge for many years. Even as his curly haired youth brought a fort like mid-thirties the batsman gave it all he had.
There shall be more, but to conclude this article, I shall give you a word image of what I think is the best photograph that has ever been taken of Sachin Tendulkar. I hope to share the photograph, if I come across it again. The photo appeared in India Today around the time when Sachin's career was its zenith, he had already played those cult, reputation-affirming one-day Sharjah 1998 knocks against Australia. The photo is devoid of any action, it merely shows in its concise frame, Tendulkar's in his test whites seated on a plastic chair, with the helmet, pads and gear on, ready to battle. The appearance is one of stillness, but the eyes are a giveaway, they are almost fiery, pointed, and warrior like. Complete with the arms wrapped around himself, it is a rare moment of culmination - of youth, adventure and domination. So long Sachin and thank you very much for the mastery and the memories.