Indian cricket woke up to the reality of life after Sachin Tendulkar, following the maestro’s decision to retire from Test cricket after playing his 200th Test in the home series against the West Indies.
He conveyed a momentus decision in just 145-words, informing the BCCI president N. Srinivasan on Thursday and requesting the Board to release the following statement on his behalf:
“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. It’s hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because it’s all I have ever done since I was 11 years old.
It’s 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 it’s 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” – Sachin Tendulkar.
The maestro had sprung a surprise on cricket followers by announcing his decision to move on. He featured in Mumbai Indians victorious run in the Champions League T20 at New Delhi, defeating Rajasthan Royals in the final.
Tendulkar was given a guard of honour as he walked back following dismissal in that game. He has been such a huge positive influence on world cricket across formats, that it will be tough to visualise a fitting farewell, in keeping with his contribution to the sport.
There was intense pressure on Tendulkar to bid adieu to Test cricket after a prolonged form slump and particularly with the advent of a number of young players.
Tendulkar’s 200th Test match is most likely to be held at his home ground in Mumbai from November 14. The Eden Gardens in Kolkata is also a contender for hosting that historic match. The BCCI has not yet announced the venues for the two Tests against the West Indies.
The fact that the BCCI squeezed in a home series against the West Indies had raised speculation that it was done to give Tendulkar the opportunity to retire in front of his home fans.
Although Tendulkar had always maintained that he would continue playing cricket as long as he enjoys playing the game, the pressure of playing at the international level has gradually taking a toll on his ageing body.
Although the decision to retire was in the offing for some time, the BCCI release did create a flutter, prompting many former Test crickets to pay glorious tributes to the champion batsman who virtually held every batting record.
Tendulkar has been the most complete batsman of his time and the most prolific runmaker of all time. His 198 Test appearances yielded 15,837 runs at an average of 53.86. From his 463 ODI matches, he had, under his belt, a whopping 18,426 at an average of 44.83.
He is the only batsman to score 100 international centuries — 51 in Tests and 49 in ODIs.
Much before his debut on November 15, 1989 against Pakistan, Tendulkar’s precocious talent was there to be seen when he shared an unbeaten 664-run stand with buddy Vinod Kambli in the Lord Harris Shield Inter-School Game in 1988.
His first Test century came in England in 1990 at Old Trafford and the Mumbaikar rose in stature after the 1991-92 tour of Australia, hitting sublime hundreds on a Sydney turner and a Perth minefield.
Tendulkar was also the first batsman in the world to score a double ton in ODIs, a feat he achieved in Gwalior against South Africa in February 2010. This was included in Times magazine’s top 10 sports moments of the year.
A perfect team-man, Tendulkar limited his Twenty20 ambition to the Indian Premier League, ruling himself out of national reckoning lest it upsets the existing equilibrium of the side.
The biggest compliment to his batting came from Bradman himself in 1999 when he said that Tendulkar’s style of playing resembled his style.
His 154 scalps in ODIs underline the fact that Tendulkar could have also staked claim to be that elusive all-rounder that India has been desperately looking for since the legendary Kapil Dev.
In the field, he is among the safest pair of hands in the slip and his flat throw releasing strong arm saw him manning the deep with equal aplomb. He has taken 114 catches in Test cricket and 140 in the ODIs.