“A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.”
Finally that moment came, thanks to media, thanks to critics. Thanks for not giving us a chance to watch him bat for the last time. What Mayans predicated became true, finally something happened which came as a shocker. A person who played 463 matches, served country for 23 years, scored 18,426 runs with an average of 45, went out the way of someone who may have been just your average cricketer let alone a remarkable one as he. Is this what we wanted? I agree that he is not among the runs. But doesn’t he deserve a grand exit in front of 30,000 spectators, hooting ‘Sachin… Sachin…’ ? I think he deserved better.
A person who got standing ovation every time, wherever he traveled, announced his retirement sitting at home, without playing a match, just before selection committee meeting, on the eve of the series against arch-rivals Pakistan and he said, “I call it a day”. As is their wont the media speculated what happened behind the scenes that perhaps forced this decision on Sachin. Many raised their eyebrows, so do I.
Whoever has put efforts in making this happen, did not do right thing. Any soldier would have loved to go and fight for the last time before quitting the service. Sachin is no less than a soldier for us and he would have definitely wanted to play the one dayers against Pakistan, against whom he made his debut at Gujranwala (Pakistan) in 1989 at the age of 16. He deserved to go out like that. But it didn’t happen.
Very easily we Indians forget the past. We are used to saying things like “ salute to only rising sun”. I would like to tell something to critics that it’s not your fault, it is because you are born in India. You have achieved what you want, I hope you are happy now. Now you got all four greats of Indian cricket: Ganguly, Laxman, Dravid and finally the little big man Sachin. Now target next senior person, i.e. Sehwag, after that Yuvraj etc. If you don’t want senior players and if you don’t respect them, then why you allow them to be a senior. Fire them before they become seniors. Play your Under-19 side as the national team. That would make you happy.
Like billion fans, for me too it is very hard to digest the fact that he won’t be wearing blue jersey anymore. I started playing cricket by watching him play like every other cricketer in this modern era did. I remember after watching him bat on TV next day I would to try same shots over the bowler’s head with straight bat. I never felt like watching a match once he got out (Indians who grew up in the 90s would know that). And that’s because I love his batting more than anyone else’s. He is a complete batsman. I always liked the way he carried his celebrity status, very humble. I admire him as a person more than as a batsman.
My 4 favourite Sachin knocks
1. The one against Australia in 1998 Sharjah (143), I still remember those sixes which he hit against Australian pace bowling and treated them like local bowlers. He was like a man possessed, in a zone.It was the most brilliant and destructive knock I have ever seen from Sachin. Sheer dominance by a great batsman against world number one side. Fleming will be wondering about how this guy danced down the track and hit him over long-on and long-off repeatedly, because no fast bowler in the world like batsman hitting them straight sixes. He took India in the finals of Coca-Cola cup, single handedly.
2.For me, second best is 134 against Australia in same Coca-Cola cup finals at Sharjah where he hammered all Aussie bowlers. He unleashed some of his breathtaking strokes and power. I still remember, I was in Mumbai on that day. After depositing Aussie pace-man Michael Kasprowicz on the roof of Sharjah stadium Tony Greg said “This man is nearest to Bradman there’s ever been.” I don’t remember exact line, but he put Sachin in the the league of cricket greats when he was yet to score his 30th century. Now he is on the Everest of 100 centuries.
3. Third best for me is 98 against Pakistan in 2003 world cup while chasing a target of 274. I still remember that six which he hit off Shoaib’s bowling over third-man. That six was adjudged as “best shot of the tournament”.
4. Fourth best is first ever double-century of ODIs. I have watched that video of his 200 not out more than 50 times, probably because that is the only full inning video I have of his batting. I liked the way he used the crease on that perticular day, especially against Steyn gun. Steyn bowled three fuller length balls outside off-stump. Sachin couldn’t put them away. Answer to those deliveries was a fine flick on the onside, similar delivery, he premeditated and moved towards off-side showing Steyn all three stumps behind him and picked a boundary on the onside. Superb shot! First word that came to my mind was “WOW”. Even Steyn’s reaction suggested that he too couldn’t believe that he could get hit on that delivery. I saw somewhere in Marathi news paper that before the match Sachin had chat with the curator, Ajay Sahasrabuddhe to understand the nature of the pitch, and he had assured Sachin it was a “Donshe chi wicket” (pitch worthy of a double century)
Now coming back to present situation, I strongly agree that, his decision (could be a forced one) to quit ODIs will give chance to the future players. As Dravid said we don’t have enough talent on the benches. Though he said in context of Test cricket, same is applicable for ODIs also. So we need some more time to prepare and get ready for the 2015 mega event
But for me cricket revolves around Sachin, his batting, his cricketing talent. No one in this world can fill in his shoes. “There was only one Sachin in the past, there is only one Sachin at present, and there won’t be any Sachin in the near future.”
Salute the great man, the legend. Thanks for the entertainment which you did for for two decades. But GOD for God’s sake, please, please, don’t leave Test cricket like this.
Thank you Sachin!
Kaustubh is a Software Engineer based out of Bangalore. He captains his club side CECC on weekends.