Cricket likes a good nickname. Many have been given one. It’s nothing too uncommon. You expect a legend to have one immediately after he shows his skill and class. So when it came to celebrating arguably one of the best in the game, we gave Sachin a holy title.
It seemed fair. Sachin was after all, special. Right? How many have we seen before being decked with such great respect?
But all this respect one sees being attributed to Tendulkar comes with a reason. It isn’t that it’s just needless hype. Many respected international cricketers have remained at the top of their game for 5-10 years. Perhaps maybe even an year more. But Sachin was in a different league.
He remained till the onset of his playing career to his final innings- a fitting half-century at the Wankhede- India’s cricketing Mecca- on the very top. You play like a legend. You bow out like one.
Sachin uniquely managed a great career that required him to play consistently and travel all around- perhaps non stop. It must have been hard. Harder than what we fans can ever imagine. But unique to cricket’s laws, as the age increases, the fitness level decreases.
But Sachin was always up to his best playing standards. So to play ODIs till as long as he did as well as appear in prime form in Test cricket, it required high fitness levels from Sachin. He was the one who never shied away from hard-work.
It is a trait with all great men. Isn’t it? You keep coming at it. Again and again. Age doesn’t worry you, the rising demands of the game don’t upset you.
Sachin maintained his fitness as well as that classic batting style for 24 years. Can you name even ten batsmen who kept playing at the age of 35 where Sachin played ODIs, Tests and, perhaps only for fans’ sake- the IPL?
Across all three formats he gave his best. Well, in the fading years, he tried all out. Not to mention, he had serious inroads with threatening injuries. After “Tennis Elbow” injury, it seemed as if the God had rested his command. But, not really.
Sachin played even after the surgery. He went on for another 8-9 years. Everything he did was pure respect and unmatched class. His gentle embracing of a grassy pitch in that final appearance, not to mention, the slow, languid walk back to the pavilion.
Glorious batsmen have ups and downs. But often, what weighs more is the down part. Sachin did have his share of hiccups, but he persisted. Isn’t that the mark of a true great?
His wasn’t a career built on runs alone. It was a 24 year career where he was pushed to the rock bottom. But he always had a solution how to come-up from bottom. That 241* against Australia at Sydney was the best example of that. What attitude, what perseverance- it was unreal. Wasn’t it?
That glorious hundred against South Africa in the 2011 World Cup brought up a smile as wide as one had seen from Sachin. Perhaps, it was an indication; he had been struggling for form but now had his reward. That reward was the perseverance.
Of course, you can beat around your head with others endlessly to debate the world’s greatest.
But here’s a fact.
Sachin Tendulkar is better cricketer because of his dedication to his game. Have we seen another great who embarked on a 24 years career where there were no missed chances due to bad attitude or indiscipline?
It’s hard to spot anyone as clean as India’s great. That dominance against the world class bowling attack complemented his down to earth nature. It shall always remain that way, one reckons.
Moreover, Sachin’s efforts in making cricket a global sport and the most famous reason why young kids opt to bat first over bowling- that alone explains Sachin’s remarkable legacy.
In his respect, many have said great things. I submit some milestones quotes on Sachin Tendulkar
“Gentlemen, he is the best batsman I have seen in my life. And unlike most of you, I have seen Bradman bat.”- John Woodcock (English Journalist 1992)
“On a train from Shimla to Delhi, there was a halt in one of the stations. The train stopped by for few minutes as usual. Sachin was nearing century, batting on 98. The passengers, railway officials, everyone on the train waited for Sachin to complete the century. This Genius can stop time in India!” – Peter Roebuck.
“I don’t think anyone, apart from Don Bradman, is in the same class as Sachin Tendulkar.” – Shane Warne
“There are two kinds of batsman in the world one Sachin Tendulkar, Two, all the others.”- Andy Flower
“I see myself when I see Sachin batting.”- Sir Don Bradman
“I have seen God, He bats for India at number 4 in Tests.” – Matthew Hayden
“We did not lose to a team called India we lost man called Sachin.” – Mark Taylor
“He has been in form longer than some of our guys have been alive.”- Daniel Vettori
“He can play that leg glance with a walking stick also.” – Waqar Younis
“I didn’t see Don but to me in all my years associated with the game I haven’t seen a better batsman than Sachin Tendulkar.” – Sir Viv Richards
“Tendulkar has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years it is time we carried him on our shoulders.” – Virat Kohli