In reference to Tendulkar quitting after 200th Test match next month, it is hard to imagine following cricket without inquiring how Tendulkar did in a match he played. When I was in Trinidad last week conducting opinion polls, all eyes were fixed on Tendulkar during the Championship series everywhere I went. When he played against Trinidad for the last time in the semi-final, people queried how many runs he scored. Even when he was on the opposing side, people wanted Tendulkar to score well.
Thus, no one can imagine India playing cricket without Sachin, as he is popularly known throughout India and the sub-continent and by the Indian diaspora. Whenever I watched cricket in India, “Sachin.” is oft repeated by the crowd or those watching TV when he was batting every ball bowled to him.
Sachin has been India’s finest player, a little master and also known as master-blaster in spite of his small size. I have been an ardent follower and admirer of Tendulkar travelling to India several times to watch cricket. He has truly been an ambassador for India and Indian cricket everywhere he went. He is a legend. He has been an icon and an idol in India for the last 20 years. No one has served Indian cricket more than Sachin. He is followed everywhere by the media and fans throughout India and the Indian diaspora as well as by millions of non-Indians in faraway places like Fiji, Mauritius, New Zealand and Australia, among others where I travelled. He is without doubt among the greatest batsman of all time. In addition, he ranks among the top great sports personalities of all time, with the most fans.
The 40-year-old Tendulkar has not been in the best of form in recent times and has suffered from injuries, and this may have influenced his decision to quit all forms of cricket after a glorious career spanning 24 years. He participated in Mumbai winning the world 20-20 championship last week first defeating Trinidad in the semi-final and Rahul Dravid’s (another legend of test cricket who called it quits last year) Rajasthan in the final.
I salute his excellent performances, feats and achievements during his career in all formats of the game – the only cricketer to play 200 Tests and who has several record to his name. No doubt there will be sorrow in not seeing him play and I am sure if he excels against West Indies, there will be calls for him to stay on. He is irreplaceable. With Tendulkar, Laxman, Dravid and Saurav Ganguly gone, India’s battling line up will be severely weakened.