India’s favourite son Sachin Tendulkar bid an emotional farewell to cricket at his home Wankhede Stadium on Saturday,signing off as sport’s most prolific run-scorer after a sparkling career that spanned almost a quarter of a century.
As tributes poured in for the legend from Indian media,the international media didn’t stay behind in applauding the veteran batsman for his supreme talent and a career lived with soft-spoken integrity and humility.
It is to his credit that he never allowed success to go to his head at any point during his illustrious career,staying away from needless controversies. His image remains impeccable,both on and off the field,a rare feat in an age when the game of cricket has been dogged by scandals.
It is true that his cricketing skills did not quite translate into leadership qualities and that he enjoyed only moderate success as team captain of India. Moreover,he struggled for form in recent years,which led to calls for his retirement so that new players could be inducted. These shortcomings notwithstanding,Tendulkar has always attempted to give his best to the Indian team each time he walked onto the field this fact alone speaks volumes for both his playing skills and his integrity.
The Express TRIBUNE
Over a glittering 24-year career,Tendulkar captured the imagination of the global cricketing audience like no other player,right from the very first Test he played as a 16-year-old in 1989,against Pakistan. A teenaged Tendulkar successfully faced a barrage of hostile short-pitched bowling from the likes of Imran Khan,Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram,making it quite clear to those who witnessed the battle,that here was a great in the making.
Adversity seemed to bring out the best in the Little Master,with some of his most memorable knocks coming when India were in dire straits or when he was trying to get back into form after a string of poor scores. Other memorable knocks that Pakistanis are sure to remember will be his brave 136 in the 1999 Chennai Test and his stupendous 98 in the 2003 World Cup clash between the archrivals.
There has never been a farewell to sport quite like this,one perfectly designed to induce a billion cheers and a billion tears. How fitting that Sachin Tendulkars last performance on his home cricket field should have been among his very finest,even if it came not with a bat but with a microphone.
As all around the Wankhede Stadium eyes were being dabbed,the little man just stood on the grass,transfixing those followers one last time,only for once in silent,emotional thrall as he gave a wonderful speech charting one of sports most fantastical careers. My life,between 22 yards,for 24 years, as he put it so perfectly.
As we could only marvel again about how he handles the tumult,Tendulkar,between his speech and his lap of honour,somehow managed to slip over to the wicket where,for a minute in peaceful contemplation,he bent down and touched a spot on those 22 yards which have shaped his life.
The end of the era came at 11.46am on Saturday. There was a pause,as tens of thousands in the stadium and hundreds of millions around the nation realised that the moment they had long known was coming had finally arrived. Sachin Tendulkar,the Little Master,perhaps the worlds most adored sporting hero,had retired. Then came the cheers: Sachin,Sachin.
The last West Indies wicket had fallen and India had won without difficulty by an innings and 126 runs. Tendulkar,himself,who scored 74 on Friday and thus missed out on a 101st Test century in his 200th Test match,bowled two overs,to the delight of the capacity crowd in Wankhede Stadium in Indias commercial capital of Mumbai. But the game itself mattered little. In a nation defined by crowds,this was all about one man… The sportsman had asked for 500 tickets to give to friends and family. Many were weeping. Others cheering. Some did both.
THE SUNDAY MORNING HERALD
Legends do not receive fairytale farewells at least not in cricket.
In what was likely to be his final Test innings,Sachin Tendulkar endured the same unsatisfying walk back to the pavilion as fellow cricket icons Donald Bradman,Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting.
All deserved to end on three figures,none did. But in what is probably the greatest reflection of Tendulkars career,his 74 was more than Bradmans duck,Pontings eight or Laras 49.
Yet,it wasnt the way god,as most of India refer to the 40-year-old,was meant to finish. If anyone deserved to end their career with a century,it was the man who scored more than any other – the batsman with 100 hundreds.
In a moment that will be etched in Indias history,the delirious crowd were silenced when the Little Master became Narsingh Deonarines 20th Test wicket.