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Saturday, November 16, 2013

We'll miss you

We knew this day was coming. We knew it for sometime. We knew that this was it. We knew it in advance. He gave us notice. And we knew when the legend would leave his playground. Despite all that, I couldn't hold back that tear. It was all magic and now it's all a memory.

So finally, 24 years, 200 tests, 463 ODIs, 1 T20I, 34357 International runs, and 200 International wickets (I just realized that) later, Sachin has bid adieu to International cricket. It would be an understatement of epic proportion to say that it was a privilege to see him. To live an era in which not only Sachin existed but dazzled one and all with his talents has been more than just an honor. For any ardent cricket fan, be it any country, he has been the ultimate batsman. He has been the very definition of batsmanship for almost two and a half decades. His statistics have left little doubt that he is made up of champion material. From the time I started watching cricket, he was there. He was competing against the best bowlers in the most alien conditions and was thriving on that. He proved time and again that his talents have no bounds. When time started going against him, he adapted. Even when he had nothing left to prove to anyone, he proved everyone wrong. People started to call for his retirement but he fought on. And even in twilight of his cricket, he was on top. 2011 proved that no bowling attack can handle Sachin when he gets going. His longevity and high performance under the pressure of carrying a billion expectations is for everyone to see.  But today something more important happened.

I heard his retirement speech. And though I've always claimed to be an emotionless brick (not that it matters), I couldn't hold back those emotions that I felt at that time, like so many others across the country. His words were more than words. They seemed sincere. They felt genuine. And for a man who is revered as a god, his words showed the humility of the legend. There is no doubt he'll going down as one of the best batsmen of all time, if not the best. But as a human being, he showed what it means to be level-headed and grateful. His farewell speech showed the side of Sachin which we've always known but never seen publicly, an emotional human being. He has done everything in cricket that was there to be done. 

He's become the first ever sportsperson to receive the highest civilian honor of our country. Well, as everything else has been in our country, this would not be without controversy. Lovers will love and haters will hate. But can you deny the fact that he's exactly what a role-model should be? Bharat Ratna or not, he's been a gem and would always go down as one of the greatest personae of this century. He deserves every bit of accolade he has received. A man who is great, on and off the field. Some are great players, some are great people. He is both a great player and man.  

I heard it on TV (I don't remember who was commentating at that time) that as it was his destiny. Sachin was born to be great and all the stars did everything to align themselves to facilitate that. Cricket as we know would no longer be the same. Sachin was the last of the previous generation of cricket. Whether someone would surpass him is academic, but November 16, 2013, marks the end of an era. Damn it West Indies, we wanted 10 days of him on field, you gave us only 6.  A billion heart skipped a beat after his retirement speech. An it's still in process of sinking in.

Thank you Sachin for everything. We'll miss you on the cricket field. And as the giant screen said, Legends never retire.