November 16, 2013 brought an end to the journey of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, which began on November 15, 1989. For 24 years, Tendulkar scored record-breaking runs, battled injuries and did all that for India. All we are left with now are memories.
Tendulkar is arguably the greatest batsman to have played the game. His records speak volume of what a great servant he has been to Indian cricket. It would be near impossible to break his records, although few insanely talented players are rising up the ranks and could give him a run for their money. As they say, records are meant to be broken and there will be nobody happier than Tendulkar if that were to happen someday.
There were tears of happiness throughout the Wankhede Stadium – A place where Tendulkar played most of his cricket and also the match where he won the biggest prize of them all – the Cricket World Cup. It was not because India had beaten West Indies by an innings and 126 runs, neither was it because India had completed a 2-0 whitewash over their visitors. Emotions were running high as the entire world was witnessing Tendulkar playing for India for the very last time.
Tendulkar started his career at the Wankhede as a little schoolboy but when he left, he left as the legend of the game. He touched the pitch for one last time and was carried around the ground by his teammates.
Once Ravi Shastri handed over the microphone to Tendulkar, even he could not control his emotions. In his farewell speech, he thanked everyone – his parents, his wife and children and all the fans.
The Farewell speech
Here’s what Tendulkar said on the last day as a member of the Indian team:
“Friends please settle down, I’ll get more emotional. It’s hard to believe my wonderful journey is coming to an end, my life between 22 yards for 24 years has come to an end. I’ve a list of names to thank. The first is my father, who passed away in 1999. Without his guidance I wouldn’t be standing in front of you. He said ‘chase your dreams, don’t give up, the path will be difficult.’ I miss him today.
“My mom, I don’t know how she managed a naughty child like me. She just prayed and prayed from the day I started playing the game. For four years I stayed with my uncle and aunt when in school, they treated me like their own son. My eldest brother Nitin doesn’t like to talk much, but he said, whatever you do, I know you will give 100%. My first cricket bat was presented to me by my sister Savita. She still continues to fast while I bat.
“Ajit my brother – we have lived this dream together, he sacrificed his career for me — he took me to Achrekar sir first. Even last night he called me to discuss my dismissal. Even when I’m not playing we will still be discussing technique. If that hadn’t happened, I would have been a lesser cricketer.
“The most beautiful thing happened to me when I met Anjali in 1990. I know that being a doctor there was a big career in front of her. But she decides that I should continue playing, and she took care of the children. Thanks for bearing with me for all the nonsense I’ve said (Anjali wipes tears). Then the two precious diamonds of my life Sara and Arjun. I’ve missed out on several birthdays, holidays, annual days. I know for 14-16 years I’ve not spent enough time with you. But I promise you I will spend the next 16 or whatever is left.
“My in-laws — I’ve discussed several things with them. The most important thing they did was allow me to marry Anjali. In the last 24 years my friends have made terrific contributions. They have been with me while I was stressed. They have been with me even at 3 AM when I was injured. Thanks for being there for me.
“My career started when I was 11. I was extremely delighted to see Achrekar sir in the stands. I used to ride on his scooter and play two matches a day. Sir took me along to make sure I played. On a lighter note, Sir never said ‘well played’ because he didn’t want me to be complacent. You can push your luck now, Sir, since I’m not playing cricket anymore.
“I started my career here in Mumbai. I remember landing from NZ at 4 AM and playing a Ranji game the next day. The BCCI was fantastic from my debut. Thanks to the selectors. You were right with me making sure my treatment was taken care of.
“Thanks to all the senior cricketers who have played with me. We see on the screen Rahul, VVS, Sourav and Anil — who is not here. All the coaches. I know when MS presented the 200th Test cap, I had a message to the team — I said we are all so proud to be representing the nation. I hope to continue to serve the nation with dignity. I have full faith that you will serve the country in the right spirit.
“I will be failing in my duty if I didn’t thank the doctors who have kept me fit. Given the injuries I have suffered. They have treated me in odd hours.
“My dear friend the late Mark Mascarenhas. I miss him. My current management team WSG, for continuing what Mark has done. Someone who has worked closely with me for 14 years is my friend Vinay Nayudu.
“The media has backed me a lot, since my school days. Even today. Thank you. Thanks to the photographers for capturing those moments.
“I know my speech has become long. I want to thank people who have flown in from different parts of the world. I want to thank my fans from the bottom of my heart.
“Sachin, Sachin” will reverberate in my years till I stop breathing.”
Tendulkar played 200 Tests, scored 15,921 runs, which included 51 centuries and 68 fifties – All world records. If that was not enough, he scored 18,426 runs at 44.83 in 463 ODIs, with the help of 49 centuries and 96 fifties, which is once again a world record. He was the first to score an ODI double hundred and the only player in the world to have 100 centuries. The records are countless, but what was more mindblowing to see was the sheer impact he had on the team.
“If Tendulkar, is at the crease, India have a chance. If not, India will lose” – This is what billions of people felt at one point. As former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga said during the 1996 World Cup, ” You get him out and half the battle is won.”
There are many innings that he played, which single-handedly won the matches for India. The Desert Storm against Australia in 1998 or the Chennai Test against England in 2008 – Tendulkar always gave India hope.
His stints as captain might not have been as fruitful, which is the only blot on his otherwise glorious career.
Famous quotes on Tendulkar
“I have seen God, he bats at no. 4 for India.” — Matthew Hayden (Former Australia opener)
“There are two kinds of batsmen in the world. One, Sachin Tendulkar. Two, all the others.” — Andy Flower (Former Zimbabwe captain)
“We did not lose to a team called India, we lost to a man called Sachin.” — Mark Taylor (Former Australia captain)
“When we were growing up, we all used to watch Sachin. He was like God to us, he had that aura around him.” — MS Dhoni (Former India captain)
“In cricket, my superhero is Sachin Tendulkar. He has always been my hero and will continue to remain so.” — Virat Kohli (Current India captain)