I have sat cross legged for endless hours in front of the TV to watch this man play. I have skipped studies, play time, let go of perfectly sumptuous lunch and dinner invitations just to watch this man on the field, with his eyes on the ball and making the perfect contact with the bat. And I have done this for many many years now. Since when I was in school and had tightly braided hair tied with colorful ribbons, when I went to college and sprawled merrily on the floor with friends and beer bottles and now when I am married to an enthusiastic cricket fan who placed the TV strategically so that we could watch all matches from our open kitchen.
I have always cheered for him. Jumped and clapped like a little child. Screamed. Expressed disappointment. But never given up on him.
I don’t worship him. I can’t even call myself a fan because I don’t go into hysterics every time he walks out on the field or appears on TV. But, I have to say this. I admire him. For his grit. For his focus. For how he plays for the entire country. For the excitement he brings to the game. For his humility. And for never giving up.
PS- Have you come across the TIME Magazine tribute to Sachin? It’s the best tribute in words yet.
“When Sachin Tendulkar travelled to Pakistan to face one of the finest bowling attacks ever assembled in cricket, Michael Schumacher was yet to race a F1 car, Lance Armstrong had never been to the Tour de France, Diego Maradona was still the captain of a world champion Argentina team, Pete Sampras had never won a Grand Slam.
When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company, Roger Federer was a name unheard of; Lionel Messi was in his nappies, Usain Bolt was an unknown kid in the Jamaican backwaters. The Berlin Wall was still intact, USSR was one big, big country, Dr Manmohan Singh was yet to “open” the Nehruvian economy.
It seems while Time was having his toll on every individual on the face of this planet, he excused one man. Time stands frozen in front of Sachin Tendulkar. We have had champions, we have had legends, but we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will.“