Sachin, we miss you

A remarkable journey that started 24 years ago from the Pakistani city of Karachi will end next month when Sachin Tendulkar walks into the sunset after his 200th Test, to be played against the West Indies. It’s certainly an emotional moment as millions of fans across the globe will miss the sight of the batting maestro in action on a cricket field. But even as it is a poignant day, it is also time to celebrate an extraordinary career. Even if you don’t take into account the massive amount of runs and the 100 international hundreds (51 in Tests and 49 in One-dayers), the mere factor of playing non-stop cricket for well over two decades at the highest level is quite extraordinary. Perhaps, that longevity and his undiminished enthusiasm for cricket make him one of the greatest cricketers ever to have walked on this planet.

There have been cricketers like Sir Jack Hobbs and Frank Wooly, who were able to stitch together long careers. But none of those pre-World War II greats or some others who followed them had to withstand the constant scrutiny of millions of followers of the game like Tendulkar had to in his long career. There was a time in the mid and late ’90s when India’s fortunes in international matches depended solely on the broad willow of Tendulkar. And more often than not, the Mumbaikar lived up to those massive expectations – from his team-mates as well as from hoards of fans. The emergence of Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni at various stages reduced the burden on him, but there never was a question as who remained the fulcrum of Indian batting, especially in Tests. It was that giant of a small man who walked in at No 4 with a skyward glance.

But is he the greatest batsman ever? Names of exceptional players like Don Bradman, Viv Richards, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting will crop up during that argument. Indeed all of them are worthy of that tag and their deeds on the field deserve volumes of appreciation. But Tendulkar still stands in his own sphere as a batsman. It’s not just because of those hefty numbers, for he was not a mere soulless run-machine. He adjusted his game to the needs of different formats – Test, one-dayer and Twenty20 and kept himself relevant to this day, and that makes him a special breed. So, goodbye Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. We will not see another like you.

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