Saturday, November 16, 2013

Wake me up when November comes

I will never forget November 16, 2013. For it is the day that I was dreading the most ever since India won the World Cup in April 2011 - the day Sachin Tendulkar retired from cricket. He had already called time on his ODI career in December 2012 and from IPL in May 2013... retirement from Test match cricket was imminent. And on 10 Oct 2013 when he announced his retirement, the time for debate was well and truly over.

 The dreaded announcement

"Forgive them, for they do not know what they do"

But I just didn't want to say goodbye. Perhaps that's why I have not been able to get myself to read a since article amidst the unprecedented media deluge. (The American media even compared Sachin's retirement to Mahatma Gandhi's death! Read the articles from Wall Street Journal and NY Times)

I didn't bother trying to get a ticket to Wankhade. Neither could I get myself to see a single ball during the farewell series.

I missed the swansong innings of 74. It was as if I wanted to be in a time capsule. The broken set-top box was my best friend. Today once the news broke that Md. Shami uprooted Gabriel's middle stump to give India the series 2-0 - it finally struck me. It was all over. The flag-bearer of Indian cricket had waved a final goodbye.

Waving our flag.

At about 6 pm when I finally gathered enough courage to switch on the TV. The time capsule burst. I saw a couple of vintage shots of his last innings of 74. The final battle where he brought Tino Best to his knees like so many before him. I heard the deafening silence of the crowd when he got out. I stood up with the crowd to give him one last standing ovation as he walked back after his final innings.

 His final bow.

I saw the guard of honour that Team India gave him as Sachin walked off barely able to hold back the tears. I wept. I heard snatches of the stirring goodbye speech. I wept some more. A part of me died today.

Legends don't retire.

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar was cricket for my generation. Why? Because he gave us hope when there was none. And in doing so, he has cemented his place in history as one of the greatest sportsmen and holds almost every batting record in the game. His last Test match against West Indies was his 200th. He has scored nearly16,000 Test runs, 18,000-plus one-day international runs, 51 Test centuries and 100 international centuries. Sadly the triple century never came - maybe he's mortal after all... sigh!

"Those figures will almost certainly never be surpassed, simply because of the sheer unlikelihood of a player breaking into an international side aged 16, staying in it until the age of 40, and spending almost all of the intervening period at the very top of his game," the WSJ article said. Well, here are the staggering numbers of the best cricketer that the world has ever seen:

Sachin bowed out of international cricket after his 200th Test match - 24 years and one day after his first. He played in 664 international matches, scoring 34,357 runs and making 100 centuries. He scored almost 2,500 more Test runs than the second-placed batsman, Ricky Ponting:
SRT: First amongst equals
Here are some of Sachin's mind boggling records:
  1. In 24 years, Tendulkar has played in 90 different venues which is a record. Tendulkar has played with and against 989 international cricketers. That includes 141 Indian cricketers and 848 opponents. 
  2. Tendulkar remains the only cricketer to take more than 150 wickets (154) and score more than 15,000 runs (18,426) in ODIs. 
  3.  1,894 ODI Runs in 1998: These are most runs scored by a batsman in any season in ODI cricket. Tendulkar scored 9 centuries that year. 
  4.  In the six World Cup appearances (1992 to 2011), Tendulkar has amassed 2,560 runs at an average of 56.95 – the most by any player in the history of the event. The best moment of his career came on 2 April 2011 when he won the World Cup.
  5. Tendulkar leads the list of most Man-of-the-match awards in ODI cricket with 62. Sanath Jayasuriya with 48 is second. The third on the list is South Africa’s Jacques Kallis with 32 awards. He also has 15 Man-of-the-series awards - another record.
  6. Sachin Tendulkar has scored 51 Test centuries in his 24-year Test career. He hit his first century against England at Manchester in August 1990 and his last ton was against South Africa at Cape Town in January 2011. 
  7. Sachin Tendulkar took five years to score his first ODI hundred. The moment he got his first ton against Australia at Colombo in 1994, the little master’s career took off and he never looked back. His last ODI ton was his hundredth international hundred scored against Bangladesh at Dhaka in 2012. He was also the first man to score a double century in ODIs.

1973 Born 24 April, Mumbai
1988 Scores 100 not out in his first first-class match for Bombay against Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy – becoming the youngest cricketer to score a century on his first-class debut, aged 15 years and 232 days
1989 Makes Test debut for India against Pakistan in Karachi at the age of 16.
December: makes ODI debut against Pakistan but is dismissed by Waqar Younis without scoring a run
1990 Scores maiden Test century against England at Old Trafford
1992 At the age of 19 he becomes the first overseas-born player to represent Yorkshire
1994 September: hits his first ODI century against Sri Lanka in Colombo after 79 one-day matches
1996 Leading run-scorer at World Cup played in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, with a total of 523 runs
August: takes on the India captaincy, although suffers two relatively unsuccessful stints during a four-year period, winning only four Tests and 23 ODIs
1997 Named Wisden Cricketer of the Year
1998 Scores his first double century for Mumbai against Australia in the Brabourne Stadium
1999 November: involved in India's highest run-scoring ODI partnership with Rahul Dravid as the pair put on 339 against New Zealand. In the same match, he records the highest individual ODI score in Indian history, with an unbeaten 186
2000 Gives up the captaincy of India after the two-Test series with South Africa
2001 Given a suspended ban of one game in light of alleged ball tampering during a match against South Africa at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth. The ban is later lifted by the International Cricket Council after an investigation
2003 Named Player of the Tournament at the 2003 Cricket World Cup and scores 673 runs, the highest by any player in the tournament
2005 Overtakes Sunil Gavaskar's record of the highest number of Test centuries by clinching his 35th against Sri Lanka in Delhi
2006 Overtakes Kapil Dev by securing the record for the highest amount of Test appearances for India, with 135
2007 January 3: edges past Brian Lara's world record of runs scored in Tests away from home, with 5,751 runs.
June: becomes the first player to score more than 15,000 ODI runs during a match against South Africa in Belfast
2008 March: plays a record-breaking 417th ODI match against Australia

August: becomes only the third player in Test match history, and the first from India, to play 150 matches when he is selected in the third Test against Sri Lanka
June: nominated as the "Icon Player" of IPL franchise Mumbai Indians, signing a deal worth $1,121,250 per season
October 17: becomes the highest run-scorer in Test cricket, passing Lara's previous mark of 11,953, when he reaches 16 in the first innings of the second Test against Australia
2010 February 24: Scores the first double-century in one-day international history, hitting an unbeaten 200 against South Africa
April: named player of IPL3 after finishing as the tournament's top run-scorer
3 August: becomes most-capped player in Test history, making his 169th Test appearance in the third Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo to overtake former Australia captain Steve Waugh
19 December: becomes first batsman to hit 50 Test centuries, achieving the feat against South Africa in Centurion
2011 March: hits two tournament centuries as co-hosts India win the World Cup.

Read "The Age of Tendulkar" by Shashi Tharoor for Wisden India
November: becomes the first man to score 15,000 Test runs during series against West Indies
2012 March: scores his 100th international century in an Asia Cup match against Bangladesh, the first player to do so
2013 October: announces impending Test retirement
23 December: announces retirement from one-day international cricket
2013 10 October: announces he will retire from Test cricket after playing in his 200th Test against the West Indies in November
16 December: plays last and 200th Test match for India.


It's easy to see why the WSJ article further described Tendulkar as "more or less" cricket itself given that he has been the game's "most recognisable figure for two decades, its biggest star and very frequently its finest batsman. His retirement removes a constant from cricket - the game's purest source of technically perfect batting pleasure, a source none of us really believed in our heart of hearts would ever go away."

The NYT op-ed said it would be "entirely accurate" to describe Tendulkar as the most revered contemporary Indian, "or even, with only a pinch of hyperbole, the most revered Indian since Mahatma Gandhi held the nation in thrall. Suspend your disbelief and think of him as a cross between Babe Ruth and Martin Luther King."

Superman or God. That's the only debate.

We simply love Sachin! Why - read this article by Ramchandra Guha for BBC

It's only fitting that he has been awarded the Bharat Ratna today (another record - SRT is the youngest ever recipient and the first sportsman to get India's highest civilian award). And about time too if you see the parallels between Sachin's career and the Indian economy - read this Business Today article!

It has been a shade of 24 years since he first captured the imagination of everyone on 15 Nov 1989 at Karachi. The win over the Windies at Wankhade completes the full set - he has now won each one of his farewell matches: Test, ODI, T20, Ranji Trophy, IPL and CLT20!

Sachin immortalised by Paul Trevillion

After two decades of glory and a lifetime of memories, all I can say is that it has been a privilege to have seen Sachin bat. Thank you Sachin!

The morning after

On the day Sachin played his 200 Test match, this is also the 200th and the last post on this blog. That's all folks! Wake me up when November comes.