By Gitanjali Maria:
I’m not a cricket buff nor do I revere Sachin like a God but the retirement of the master blaster did bring a lump to my throat. It also brought a bagful of memories of yesteryears and a creeping feeling of nostalgia. As one of my childhood playmates rightly remarked, Sachin’s retirement does indeed mark the end of an era. Cricketing history probably would now be known as the era ‘After Sachin (AS).’
I fondly remember my childhood days, when we used to play cricket (more of gully cricket) in the by-lanes of our housing colony and every right handed batsman (women too it this case!) who played well used to be dubbed as Sachin Tendulkar and every left handed batsman as Sourav Ganguly, trying to mimic some of the finest partnerships that they have brokered together.
Those times when we used to huddle around the TV, cheering for India and letting out a huge sigh when the wicket of Sachin fell would probably never come back. In most households, the TV used to be switched off once the wicket off this great batsman fell and an epitaph of the Indian team’s defeat was written off. Those were the times when it used to be at least jokingly remarked that Sachin was the one man Indian team that played an opponent of eleven members.
Retirement is a part of life and most people, be it in sports, corporate or academic life, retire after a period of time. But when some people retire, the void that they leave is often difficult to fill. Sachin’s stature, both on and off the field, is something that is difficult to emulate. His tackling of the media and off-the field behaviour and humility is something that rarely gifted sportspersons show, even more so in a game like cricket that is characterized by huge sums of money, wealthy brand endorsements and commercials, glamour, glitter and popularity, not to say the huge frenzied following and viewership in the country.
I do not follow cricket anymore with the same fervour as I did in childhood with a pack of boys who could only eat, sleep and drink cricket. I remember only players of a bygone era — Anil Kumble, Srinath, Mongia, Robin Singh, Ajay Jadeja and Azharuddin. Today, the excessive hype over cricket puts me off and so does the many match-fixing scandals that spurt now and then. I have moved on to other games, playing more of badminton and pursuing athletics.
But as the master blaster signs off from the game, I’m once again reminded of those crazy days when ODIs and test were the only norms of the game and IPL was yet to be born. Sachin is truly a legend having survived on the grounds for almost two and half decades and proven his track record in all forms of game — be it the twitter version (T-20), the original prose version (50 overs) or the lengthier ‘Test cricket’ version. He has also played for the country as well as the league counties, thus leaving behind his footprint all over the map of cricket.
Kudos to Sachin as he completes his long innings successfully and hoping to see him mould many more youngsters to don the colours for India in the cricketing world!