Frankly, I have never been a fan of cricket. What a waste of valuable time waiting for the match to end. I have never been part of the euphoria or the heartache, fortunately or unfortunately. But I have still managed to survive in a cricket crazed nation blessed with some of the greatest players of the game. Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri and…Sachin Tendulkar. I have never been a fan of cricket but I have definitely been a fan of one of the greatest batsmen and the finest cricketer of all times, Sachin Tendulkar.
Popularly known as The Batman for his skills with the bat, Sachin has garnered 50,000 runs in first class cricket. He has played in 463 ODIs and has just played his 200th and the last test a couple of days back. Modest, calm, composed but unpredictable and lightening fast on the field, Sachin has redefined Indian cricket. And the respect he has gathered over the years is not just for the fine sportsman that he is, but also for the excellent human being that he is.
Born on April 23, 1973, Sachin first took up cricket at the age of eleven and by the age of sixteen, had already made his international debut again Pakistan. Sachin’s brother Ajit is often credited for introducing him to cricket through renowned coach Ramakant Achrekar. Sachin showed promise early on in his career and was soon acknowledged as a prodigy among junior cricket circles.
Starting out by playing in junior leagues and cricketing clubs, Sachin landed up on the domestic cricket scene in 1987 when he was selected to represent Mumbai for the Ranji Trophy in 1987. His achievements, all at a tender age of 15, of being the highest run scorer for Mumbai and his ability to gather centuries got him noticed and he was soon on the Indian squad for the tour of Pakistan in 1989.Tough he made only 15 runs on his debut, he was still appreciated for showing the guts to face the ferocious Pakistani pace attack and surviving it.
From that point on till 1999, Sachin steadily rose through the ranks of the Indian cricket team to emerge as a force to reckon with. He first struck gold when he scored his first century again Australia on September 9 1994. The century had come after a wait of 79 ODIs! But from that point on, Sachin was at the peak of his cricketing best. Displaying exceptional talent, he scored three consecutive centuries against Australia in 1998.
Sachin has had the opportunity to captain the Indian side twice in his career. Though he again showed exceptional cricketing skills, he was not very successful as a captain.
The turn of the century saw Sachin battling bad form and injuries. Around 2003, Sachin’s elbow started giving him trouble and he had to be left out of the squad for almost a year. A couple of years later, he was seen battling bad form and which witnessed his longest spell without a century; 17 ODIs. The first decade of the century did not do much good for this cricketing great.
By the end of 2007, Sachin’s form was again picking up. The Border-Gavaskar trophy saw Sachin show exceptional form and he score 493 runs in four tests. But he was again seen lagging in series again South Africa in 2008 and the Sri Lankan tour in the same year. Though Sachin still had a lot of cricket left in him, it was also the time that many started doubting about Sachin’s continuation in the team.
By 2009, Sachin was again back in form, performing exceptionally in all forms of first class cricket. It was also around this time when the smaller formats of cricket were being introduced by the Indian Premier League and the Championship League. The shorter formats however were very demanding and Sachin stood up to the task perfectly.
By 2012, Sachin had started slowing and had been considering retirement. Starting with ODIs in 2012 and T20s in 2013, Sachin is slated to play his last test on 11th Oct 2013, bidding his farewell on his home ground. It would be the end of an era, the end of the face of world class cricket, the end of excitement and breaking of records but it would not be the end of the legend that Sachin Tendulkar has always been.
Brand Sachin would continue to live on but what would really stay behind would not just be his rich legacy but also his good deeds. He is the true superhero who has inspired others, kept himself motivated and accepted criticism constructively. Just as the superhero Batman, Sachin has been the embodiment of:
“It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you”
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