A great batsman, a greater person

PTI

He reserved his best for the last and to me that epitomised the true nature of a boy wonder who went on to become the greatest batsman.

A couple of nights prior to his final appearance at the Wankhede Stadium, I had sent Sachin Tendulkar a text message, which was: “Hi Sach, pl let me know when you have a couple of minutes.” A lack of response was baffling as he normally responds precisely and appropriately, just as he does to deliveries while at the crease. But then, I realised that a gala dinner was organised that night in his honour by the BCCI.

The next evening, however, the Little Master called and I wished him. Once the conversation ended, I could not help but admire his humility and the respect he has for others in general. Here was a man preparing for his final game even as he was battling with his emotions, but that did not deter Sachin from maintaining his decorum. His batting prowess was obvious to one and all; he had displayed that for over two decades in the arena. But what was guessed more than known by the public was the persona of Sachin Tendulkar.

His qualities as a human were on display during his speech, which must have only reaffirmed to the public that they had backed someone who was a rare combination of a great batsman and a greater person. The speech was precise, well worded and, most importantly, it came from the heart. Sachin’s respect for his parents, his affection for his relatives and reverence for the professionals were conveyed with as much finesse and sincerity as when he wielded the willow. The Little Master even explained why he thought his coach never appreciated him in all these years. Of course, the subsequent events ensured that his coach called him and said “Well done”, the two words that Sachin longed to hear from him for a long time.

As he walked into the sunset, Sachin had an important message for cricketers, the current as well as the future ones. He stressed that they were all just custodians of the game and they should not take the game for granted. This is something he lived by and not surprisingly, he reminded them of it. I am sure he will be telling this even in the future, as he will be involved with the game for some more time to come.

Sachin’s exit was as fabulous as his career in that his final innings had some moments of magic that one associated with the Little Master. That he did not complete his century paled into insignificance, for he had given the public enough to reminisce for a long time to come.

He reserved his best shot for the last and to me that epitomised the true nature of a boy wonder who went on to become the greatest batsman. Having spent a lot of time over a distance of 22 yards, the champion did not forget to pay his respect to the arena that made him the champion. The sight of Sachin bending down to touch the ground was rare and touching. Tendulkar made his fans cry apart from making many eyes moist with his humility. It will be a long time before someone like Tendulkar comes and captures the imagination of millions of people. However, what is important is that he has left behind a huge legacy that will become a big burden for the current and future Indian cricketers. As regards the void he has left behind, I would rather not comment on it as that is best left to the Almighty to decide by whom and when that will be filled.

Well done, Sach. A big thank you for all the delight you provided and wishing you all the best post retirement.