Sachin is the greatest

Celebrating Sachin Tendulkar: The Little Master and Sourav Ganguly release a poster, taken up by balloons, on the third day of the first test between India and the West Indies at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.-K.R. DEEPAK

Tendulkar is like the banyan tree in the world of cricket, and the records he holds are its branches. He possesses almost every record in the game. By Sourav Ganguly.

My association with Sachin Tendulkar began even before my stint with the Indian team. During the training camp of the India under-14 team, I saw him at the nets, batting for hours. I saw him next during the tour of Australia in 1992. Back then, he was a regular in the Indian team, while I was trying to secure a berth in the National squad. We shared hotel rooms and generally got along well.

When we met for the first time, my interaction with Tendulkar was over even before it began. However, when I returned to the Indian team we had a long relationship.

One very significant happening during that period was my century on debut in the second Test against England at Lord’s. At the dinner table, Tendulkar advised me not to look back and to continue the way I was playing. I did just that, and the rest is history.

Tendulkar is a great human being. He is always ready to help and support his team-mates. We had many good times, opening the batting for India in One-day Internationals. Our playing styles were different. We discussed the game in between overs, helped each other with tips and rectified our mistakes. I certainly enjoyed his company at the top of the order.

Tendulkar as captain is one of the best India has ever had. The record books might not vouch for this, but it would be foolish to compare him with others. When he was India skipper, Tendulkar scored runs consistently.

He did not think twice before giving up captaincy.

As the captain of the Indian team, I looked to him during our decision-making process. Tendulkar has always been the undisputed leader in the dressing room.

I have spent years with Tendulkar, the cricketer. He was very passionate and devoted to the game. To me, he is the greatest cricketer I have ever seen. At the same time, I have also witnessed his humane side. In spite of being a superstar, Tendulkar remained firmly rooted to the ground. He was one of the great pillars of Indian cricket and a champion in his own right.

His decision to retire from the game came at the right time. To arrive at the decision (to retire) is very tough. And no one knows it better than me.

Tendulkar is like the banyan tree in the world of cricket, and the records he holds are its branches. He possesses almost every record in the game. His record of 200 Test matches and scoring 100 hundreds in international cricket (Tests and ODIs) will remain unbroken for another half a century from now.

Having done so well in cricket, Tendulkar will be looking forward to life away from cricket. I am sure there are many things he would like to catch up on, things he could not pursue owing to the rigours of international cricket. The whole world is open to him as he looks to take up new challenges. Whatever he chooses to do in life after cricket, I am sure he will do outstandingly well.

As told to S. Sabanayakan