With a heavy heart, world prepares for Tendulkar farewell

Published: November 14, 2013
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Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar will step on to the field for his last Test as India take on West Indies in the first match in Mumbai today. PHOTO: AGENCIES

Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar will step on to the field for his last Test as India take on West Indies in the first match in Mumbai today. PHOTO: AGENCIES

MUMBAI: Cricket-crazy India will have a lump in the throat as its favourite son, Sachin Tendulkar, walks out for one last time this week to play the game he has dominated for nearly a quarter of a century.

The ‘Little Master’ will bring the curtain down on a glittering 24-year career at the age of 40 when he plays his 200th Test match, against West Indies, at his home ground starting today.

Among the 32,000 present will be his wheelchair-bound mother Rajni, for whom Tendulkar has managed to get a ramp at Wankhede Stadium so she can watch her idolised son bat for the first time.

“Mother has never seen him play,” his elder brother, Ajit, told an Indian television programme. “This will be the first time. Also it will be a very emotional moment.”

For the last time, the superstitious Tendulkar will put on his left pad first, and walk out to bat in India’s colours, having long secured his place among the game’s greats.

“In terms of stats, you’re going to have players with better stats (in the future), you never know,” said West Indies batting great Brian Lara of the Indian. “There are boxers who have a better record than Mohammad Ali but if you talk about boxing you have to mention Muhammad Ali, basketball you have to mention Michael Jordan. When you speak about cricket, you’ll speak about Tendulkar.”

Statistically the greatest batsman of all time, Tendulkar’s greatness goes far beyond those numbers.

Despite overwhelming adulation from a country that has virtually deified him, Tendulkar has displayed the same composure at the crease in accumulating 100 international centuries as he has done off the field.

His self-discipline and controversy-free image have made him a role model for India’s burgeoning youth, who are largely disillusioned with the politicians. Since announcing his decision to retire from cricket, the country of 1.2 billion people has slipped into nostalgia about its biggest sporting icon.

Tendulkar’s career has dominated the pages of national dailies with figures from politics, sport and the corporate world all contributing to the frenzy surrounding his final match. The website selling the meagre 5,000 tickets available for the public to attend the Test crashed within minutes of opening on Monday under what it called ‘unprecedented pressure’, with 19.7 million hits in the first hour.

The records man

The frenzy was hardly a surprise given it will be the last chance to watch a player whose place in the batting pantheon is second only to Australian Don Bradman.

Bradman’s Test average of 99.94 is nearly 40 runs ahead of any of his nearest rivals to have played at least 20 matches.

All other major run-scoring records belong to Tendulkar, who made his debut for India against Pakistan in Karachi in 1989 as a curly-haired 16-year-old. He has scored the most runs in Tests and one-day cricket and his 51 Test centuries and 49 One-Day International hundreds are also records.

Even Bradman once asked his wife Jessie to watch Tendulkar on television to confirm his own impression that the pair had similar styles. Tendulkar probably shouldered a more difficult task in living up to the expectations of 1.2 billion cricket-crazy fans every time he walked out to bat.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Dr Dang
    Nov 14, 2013 - 1:58AM

    Tendulkar Forever !!!

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  • sensible
    Nov 14, 2013 - 2:29AM

    tendulakar best batsmen ever YES. Tendulkar best cricketer ever NO. Hope people understand before start bashing me!

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  • Ibn Khattab
    Nov 14, 2013 - 9:17AM

    Salute.
    Very few are blessed by Allah, the way Sachin is.
    The game of Cricket shall miss him forever.

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  • Zack
    Nov 14, 2013 - 9:41AM

    Even he is not a great batsman too, rather he was poor captain, actually the whole show was setup to make sure he retires.

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  • someone
    Nov 14, 2013 - 10:05AM

    @sensible:
    I don’t know what you mean by “cricketer” here. The guy is the best batsman of his era. His records would be unbreakable for years to come. He is one of the best fielder in the team. Can do decent bowling too if needed. No serious controversy against him. He is considered one of the best gentlemen in the game , on the field and off the field. If he is not the “best cricketer” then could you please enlighten us who else is good enough to be called “best cricketer” ?

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  • Zill
    Nov 14, 2013 - 10:40AM

    @Zack: Sour Grapes.

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  • max
    Nov 14, 2013 - 12:14PM

    @Sensible….try to make some sense when you write :)

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  • Truth
    Nov 14, 2013 - 3:05PM

    A flat track bully, never performed when his team needed him the most.

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  • Spock
    Nov 14, 2013 - 3:55PM

    As the legend bids adieu the game of cricket will never be the same.

    What a great human and a achiever. Its not easy to be loved by billions.

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  • 1984
    Nov 15, 2013 - 2:14AM

    @sensible:
    @Zack:
    @Truth:

    Had Tendulkar been a muslim,these Pakistanis would have been singing odes to him……just like they are doing for Hashim Amla and in football too,they idolise Mesut ozil because he prays before every match……

    Some people look at religion in everything

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  • Indian Wisdom
    Nov 15, 2013 - 2:09PM

    Its hard to imagine cricket without Tendulkar……but it was the same when original little master (Gawaskar) retired……and we were blessed with Tendulkar….
    Lets see who can take this huge responsibility now????
    It will be very difficult for someone to fit in the shoes of God of cricket………..

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  • Truth
    Nov 15, 2013 - 4:11PM

    @1984:
    Who brought religion into this ? You. These were just some comments on a cricketers ability. Get a life. Read BBC analysis on him, he is not the greatest batsman, Sir Don Bradman has that mantle, and Ponting, Lara and Sangakara have done much better. Besides Rahul Dravid has always performed for his team when needed more than Tendulker. A billion adorning half wits cannot change that fact.

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  • manoj
    Nov 15, 2013 - 5:12PM

    @ Truth,
    Sir Don Bradman HIMSELF had famously stated that he felt like he was watching himself play when he saw Sachin batting. Now who would you trust more -the BBC or Sir Bradman?
    Or was the 80+ years old Sir Donald one of the billion adorning nit-wits when he made that _comment?
    And where did 1984 state that Sachin was the greatest batsman ever?

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  • manoj
    Nov 15, 2013 - 5:20PM

    Here is one more nit-wit who says that Sachin is the greatest cricketer in history. His name is Brian Lara. And yes-he’s on BBC.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/24921333

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  • 1984
    Nov 15, 2013 - 8:32PM

    @Truth:
    I’m sorry,but I’m not the one who brought religion into this….Just check the facebook pages where they praise Hashim Amla to the moon because he refused to wear “CASTLE” Logo,drinks water while sitting,makes his wife roam in a burkha,scored a double century while fasting(the joke is that Amla himself said he was not fasting as he was on travel,but still the fans have selective amnesia)

    Honestly,90% of the fans dont mind the religion of the cricketers,but there are few people who look at cricketers and footballers in the prism of religion…

    Unfortunately,90% of those people belong to one religion….

    Recommend

  • Lalit
    Nov 15, 2013 - 10:09PM

    @Truth
    i hope you understand a flat track remains a FLAT TRACK for all the 22 players….nobody stopped others from scoring runs.have you ever seen someone complaing about grassy pitches.

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  • Yasin
    Nov 16, 2013 - 3:03AM

    @Truth

    You are anything but truth; in fact ‘lies’ personified.

    Recommend

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