At 2.30 pm on Thursday,Sachin Tendulkar called up Board secretary Sanjay Patel,as protocol and propriety demanded,and told him about his intention to retire from cricket after his 200th Test the one against the West Indies next month.
Are you sure? a stumped Patel was left repeating more than a couple of times as Tendulkar issued him precise,polite instructions on what needed to be done.
He told me that he wanted to announce his retirement. He had already spoken to the Board president and wanted BCCI to issue a statement and letter which he would mail,to be forwarded to the media, Patel said.
The statement read: All my life,I have had a dream of playing cricket for India. I have been living this dream every day for the last 24 years. Its hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because its all I have ever done since I was 11 years old. Its been a huge honour to have represented my country and played all over the world. I look forward to playing
my 200th Test Match on home soil,as I call it a day.
I thank the BCCI for everything over the years and for permitting me to move on when my heart feels its time! I thank my family for their patience and understanding. Most of all,I thank my fans and well-wishers who through their prayers and wishes have given me the strength to go out and perform at my best.
The uneasy anticipation and looming inevitability of Sachin Tendulkar walking away from the sport after a quarter century of lording over it,had been in the air for some time now.
In fact,subtle pressure had been mounting on him,as first reported by The Indian Express on September 18,with top board functionaries and apparently even a selector having had the talk with him in the past few months.
However,no one in the board is known to have confronted the champion on the timing of his closely guarded decision,and it was generally considered a subject that officials only gingerly broached.
It is believed that board president N Srinivasan as well as Patel had spoken to the master blaster and assured him that the decision was up to him.
Sources close to the legend say that he had been waiting for that one-big knock to drop the curtains on an illustrious career,but after his struggles in the T20 Champions League,had arrived at the conclusion that the runs had dried up.
He realised after the Champions League that runs were not happening, one source said.
The years of workload had been taking a toll on his ageing body and there were signs of the final struggle. During the IPL this year,Tendulkar suffered an injury to his left hand. It happened in a match against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Mumbai when,after lofting leg-spinner Karan Sharma for a six,Tendulkar found it difficult to grip the bat and asked for the physios help.
He retired hurt and further checks revealed some swelling in his wrist and around a tendon in the left hand. Tendulkar was subsequently ruled out of all the remaining games,including the final. After Mumbais victory,the batsman announced his retirement from the IPL.
In August,he had flown to London for a surgery before resuming training and making a comeback in the CLT20.
His scores since returning were pale shadows of his glorious days.
In the last five T20 innings in the Champions League,his scores read: 15,35,0,5 and 15. In the Test series against Australia earlier this year,he looked out of sorts,getting starts but failing to convert. The highest he managed was 82 in Chennai.
Sources said he was waiting for one big knock before finally hanging his boots. But during the CLT20,he is said to have realised that his time was up.
The next few days though are expected to be a celebration of his career,as testimonials start getting written,and the farewell will be as wonderful as any he could have planned.
Tendulkar is scheduled to play his 200th at home in Mumbai,a venue where he realised his most-cherished dream of winning the World Cup. The West Indies are the chosen punchbags,should he rekindle his affair with big scores.