An image of inspiration, an idol of reverence and a man of honour, Sachin Tendulkar has ended his celebrated career in Test cricket. Finishing 24 years of his cricketing career to be precise, he will forever be cherished by the cricketing as well as the sports world alike.
‘Role model’ is the apt term for describing how the budding cricketers see him, but many disagree with the idea of according him the status of ‘God of Cricket’. Considering the popularity of cricket in every part of India, it would come as a surprise if someone is oblivious to his name. His matches, both live and repeat telecast of some of his greatest innings are now available in the most remote of Indian villages and towns. Radio channels have also contributed to the ecstasy over Sachin’s centuries and half-centuries.
Conferring respect through ‘hash-tags’ and ‘likes’ over Twitter and Facebook, the present generation makes sure the memory of his ﬁnal departure from the pitch lingers. Youngsters aspiring to earn fame equal to that of Sachin’s in cricket and those who have been able to follow him over their television sets, have their own way of remembering him.
By downloading videos of his best shots and pictures as wallpapers for their digital devices, this era has demonstrated how deeply etched his memories are in its collective mind. It is a fact that youngsters follow the icons of their generation and Sachin’s image proves it by presenting itself as an inspiration for many to take up cricket as a hobby or even a career option. Though cricket has always been a favourite, Sachin’s batting as well as his other cricketing endeavours contributed mightily to the excitement of the young fans.
His name is heard in conversations across different generations. Retired gentlemen have discussed his consistency, brooded over his form and appreciated his style of batting during their morning and evening walks. Home-makers have always wanted to indulge themselves in his appreciation, credit for which is usually taken away by the men.
Some women do ardently analyse his batting style, while others prefer to acknowledge its effect over their husbands, sons and fathers. Such conversations have been successful in shattering different forms of segregation seeping into our society. People in varied jobs and playing different professional roles, come together, even though for a short time, to jointly extol the boundaries scored by Sachin and enjoy the camaraderie forged by such interactions.
To speak of the Indian team, a highly coveted spot has been rendered vacant. A feeling of dejection over Sachin’s retirement is succeeded by the anxiety over who is to replace him. The fact remains that it will be difficult to ﬁnd calibre of his kind. He has been occupying the key spot because of his extraordinary ability. Now is the time to present the spot to someone who may further highlight the legend, and make his own mark in India’s batting line- up.
Batsmen already playing for India have the inevitable onus of providing a similar kind of thrust that Sachin was able to do. His presence itself served as a motivator and his guidance was keenly sought after by the younger lot in the team.
Sachin loves the company of youngsters, guiding them at different stages. Over the years he has mentored many young players, sharing his experience to enhance their game.
As he says, “It’s a nice thought that I need to be involved with cricket and I would deﬁnitely be. It is not just because I have retired. Even before I retired, I have spent time with youngsters from U-19 teams to Ranji Trophy teams. It’s just that I have not made those things public. I like interacting with players. It’s just nice to share your knowledge and understand sometimes their problems also which also in return teaches you more about the game. I have thoroughly enjoyed those interactions and I will continue to do so.
"It may not be done publicly, it may be done quietly at a very low proﬁle but I would like to help the youngsters, the next generations and just share my thoughts and be involved with cricket.”
The legend owns signiﬁcant space in the hearts of cricket lovers, but they need to make room for the many yet to come. Enjoyment at watching him bat may be irreplaceable, but it is true that Indian cricket needs the support of its fans to produce more extraordinary players.
“Talking about the new generation, I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the team. I know that someone like Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) wasn’t even born when I started playing for India. I have told them jokingly, wish me ‘Good Morning Sir, when I come to the dressing room.’ It has been a joy to work with them.”
Sachin’s retirement will take away priceless experience from the Indian dressing room.
Players like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have earned raving praise from the master and they are contributing handsomely. True, they will miss Sachin during times of doubt, but, as he says, he will be just a call away.
(This story was published in Sportstar on November 30, 2013.)
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