they will grow up on stories of the little master, of how he represented a sport, a nation, a generation...
As most Indians born in the early 1980’s, I grew up with Cricket. Probably because India won the world cup in 1983, and where better to win it that at Lord’s, at the mecca of cricket. We beat our previous rulers at their game on their ground (okay technically we beat the West Indians, but metaphorically). This was a big win, another piece of the colonial shackles was broken, a step away from inferiority from the ‘west’ was taken when Kapil Dev raised that cup on 25th June 1983.
My first memory of Sachin is from 1993, back then team India wore a dark blue jersey. It was the last over of the Hero Cup at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata (called Calcutta back then). Nope, not his mesmerizing batting, but this time it was his effective bowling. South Africa needed 6 to win in the last over, long chat between Kapil, Azhar & Sachin; the field is reshuffled, Nation sticking to the TV screen, Sachin bowls India to victory, Eden erupts. Of course I remember the win, but what impacted me the most, was the calmness on this 20 year old face, every ball it was business as usual. A professional to the core that is what Sachin Tendulkar was throughout his career.
Next memories are from the world cup in 1996, the little master had earned global respect. Opposition focused so much on getting him out they forgot about the rest of the 10, sadly this was not just with oppositions but also with Indian crowds. All we wanted to do was watch Tendulkar bat, honestly speaking we still do! His century led to festivals in streets, if got out short of a 100 the national happiness index sunk to rock bottom.Speaking of sad moments I am reminded of one, again at the Edens 1999, remember it as if it was yesterday, a cold February morning in Delhi, we all were watching the match in our school Principles office, in fact he invited us to watch it. ( Mr Arun Kapoor, is one of the finest human being I know). Shoaib Akhtar was bowling fast and furiously, a toe breaking Yorker which got the leg stump technically perfect Rahul Dravid cartwheeling to Moin Khan, was followed by a roar, as Sachin walked on to the pitch. We were all smiles our tried and tested national hero was out there. But as life, cricket is also a leveler, Akhtar bowled a beauty a 90 miles inswinging yorker which uprooted the middle stump. We were stunned, Eden experienced pin drop silence, Akthar became a sensation in the cricketing world
90’s were truly the dark ages for modern India, our politics had begun to lose ideology ( babri masjid, mandal commission, fodder scam), Amitabh bachchan had degraded himself to movies like Laal BaadShah, even our most popular songs we not original. In this era with nothing to look up to which was Indian, this short guy stood tall above all. He was hardworking, honest, aggressive yet so humble, respected globally. Sachin was the Indian dream come true, a kid from a humble family making it to the global stage, with only hard-work and dedication on his side.
Its amazing how he has maintained his humbleness over the years, he was clear about his aim from day one. In all his interviews till date he maintains the same aura of young humble enthusiastic sportsman. Known on and off the field only for his cricket, far from the usual controversies which follow super stardom, this Indian idol is a class above the others. As his scores clearly state Sachin let his bat do the talking, he played the Gentlemen’s game like it is supposed to be played. He has been the reason for so many smiles. One such inning was in 2003 world cup against Pakistan, where he the master blaster did what he does best, scoring runs across the park against a team we love to beat J
He announced his retirement yesterday…….its still settling in. Over the last 20 years Sachin had become synonymous with Cricket, and there will certainly be a void. We will miss him, his presence on the field, ( when he was fielding the spectators forgot all about the game in the middle and followed him around the stadium), we will miss that smile, but most of all we will miss our childhood. He was the symbol of our childhood dream, to play cricket for India.
Thank You Sachin.