Sachin, Sachin! *Clap Clap Clap*
The above lines have been the most cheered ones in the last few decades by almost every Indian cricket follower. For nothing seemed to bring everyone close as much as an Sachin Tendulkar inning would. It brought the quarrelling pair of Boss and employee together in cafeterias, it brought the people standing outside TV showrooms to discuss cricket, it brought the ears plugged to radio, in trains, buses together, it made people smile.
Just one man, so many hopes, and seldom did he disappoint. He became a child, friend, buddy, teacher, idol, inspiration, he became GOD of Cricket.
What was special about SRT? SRT himself is special. The first memory I have of him is of a short guy in blue tee and black pant, coming down the track and lofting a yellow guy bowling spin straight out of the ground. Crowd went mad, noise, horns, so much happened. The feelings have still been same for someone who has given his everything to the game. Indeed Indian Cricket has been blessed by the presence of someone who captured imaginations of a billion people who have history of being a wild audience. Every cover drive brought people to smile, days were made, moods changed in minutes. On Sundays, you saw how millions tried to copy his straight drive, that MRF bat is still his, despite them getting many more successors. Having grown up in the late nineties, I did miss those one man innings, when people used to stop watching once SRT got out. There was a feeling, why can’t he score hundred and win? What should happen for that?
Then came Dada, Rahul, Laxman and many more with time, India started to win more. Dada, the aggressive opening batsman with Sachin gave India so many glorious starts, his partnerships in Tests with Rahul, the bowler who tossed the ball after catching, playing with his palms. Such was the genius of Sachin, the simplicity, the humbleness never went out. Legends are those who treat success and failure as same. Sachin did that, with time, we all got obsessed with him. He went above the game for many, but he never asked for it. It was the immense joy of watching him bat made people feel good about life.
Cricket meant Sachin!
That Hook for Six to Caddick in WC03, that 98 against Pakistan still fresh for many. Tennis Elbow happened. He was ruled out for months. He came back with a slightly altered technique, but kept scoring. The hunger never died. That straight drive still was joyous to watch. India toured Australia in 2008, I remember bunking my 12th CET classes to watch him bat against Lee. His hundred at Sydney, that upper cut to Brett Lee. It all came natural to him. He played probably all the shots in T20 in that day and age when BCCI was a timid organization which means a long long time back. His hundred against England at Chennai, his favorite ground chasing 387. Special knocks came to him like festivals.
The World cup win, I was there, lofting my arms in glory, watching him take rounds. It felt like a dream came true, for me, for India, for SRT who was part of so many to-be-won matches lost, I felt nothing would have been better than that as an end to this career, He had different ideas. Statistics are a part of the game, they came to him like water to fish, he kept breaking records at will. He was now already more than the game for plenty. Guess this is where the feeling started to go down, having always been the lover of the game, it felt like he was stretching it for no apparent reason, the 100th hundred came like one of those century and losses. The 8-0 happened. This felt different, none knew the answer. He picked and chose series, which I think was probably the only reason I ever got annoyed. He did deserve it but it came at an expense, game is run by runs, but then he ran emotions of the nation with a run.
Nevertheless, his recent years can still not hamper the joy that he has given all the years to so many of us. Even now every time he hits a cover drive, straight drive, paddle sweep in that shiny Mumbai Indian Jersey, Wankhede goes mad. Wankhede will go mad again, one final time, when the nation will now stop saying, “Sachin, khel raha hai na? Tension nahi” We’ll have to move on, but let’s just wait a minute and thank the Master Blaster for making minutes, hours worth watching when he batted.
In one line, Sachin Tendulkar is a festival India celebrated every time he came out to bat.
Just an attempt to thank Sachin Tendulkar for making lives memorable.
(Image credits: ESPNCricinfo)