God Of Cricket
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, the man who has transcended most other sportsmen to become arguably the greatest cricketer to ever play the sport, is undoubtedly no less than a God for the billion-plus people of a cricket-loving nation. Taking high pressure situations in his stride, the batsman has over his 24-year career achieved remarkable feats that most others cannot even imagine. The former Indian cricketer is widely acknowledged as the best batsman of his generation.
Tendulkar, born in Bombay (now Mumbai) on April 24, 1973, took up cricket at the age of 11, made his Test debut against Pakistan at the age of 16, and went on to represent Mumbai domestically and India internationally for close to 24 years. Since his debut against Pakistan in 1989, Sachin Tendulkar has been shining like a star in the international cricketing arena. He is the only player to have scored one hundred international centuries, the first batsman to score a double century in a One-Day International, the only player to complete more than 30,000 runs in international cricket and the 16th player and the first Indian to aggregate 50,000 runs or more in all forms of domestic and internationally recognised cricket. On December 23, 2012, Tendulkar announced his retirement from ODIs and from the Twenty-20 format in May 2013. He retired from cricket altogether on November 16, 2013, after playing his 200th Test match against the West Indies team in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
Tendulkar is cross-dominant: he bats, bowls and throws with his right hand but writes with his left hand. He also practises left-handed throws at the nets on a regular basis. His batting is appreciated internationally as it displays a balance and poise while limiting unnecessary movements and flourishes. Tendulkar received the Arjuna Award in 1994 for his outstanding sporting achievement, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 1997, India’s highest sporting honour, and the Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan awards in 1999 and 2008 respectively, India’s fourth and second highest civilian awards. After a few hours of his final match on November 16, 2013, the Prime Minister’s Office announced the decision to award him the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award. He is the youngest recipient of the award till date and the first ever sports person to receive the award. He also won the 2010 Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for cricketer of the year at the ICC awards. Tendulkar is much more than a sports star. The previous Indian government named him to the Upper House of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, in a seat reserved for cultural icons. He was also the first sportsperson and the first person without an aviation background to be awarded the honorary rank of Group Captain by the Indian Air Force. In 2012, he was named an ‘Honorary Member of the Order’ of Australia.
It is true that no other sportsman in history has inspired such complete devotion towards a sport. India is a land of many strange and wondrous sights. One of them was how cricket grounds suddenly swelled with thousands of more spectators every time the second wicket fell in Test matches, marking the Master Blaster’s arrival at the crease. The seats emptied out just as swiftly as and when he was dismissed. Tendulkar’s consistent performances earned him a fan following across the globe, including Australian crowds where Tendulkar has consistently scored centuries. One of the most popular sayings of his fans is “Cricket is my religion and Sachin is my God”.
Sachin Tendulkar was made the icon player and captain for his home side, the Mumbai Indians, in the inaugural Indian Premier League Twenty-20 series in 2008. In simple terms, Sachin Tendulkar was the right man in the right place at the right time. At the end of it all, he retires as a multi-millionaire – one of several in Indian cricket, the current power center of the global game. One day someone might even overtake Tendulkar’s tally of 34,000 international runs and 100 centuries. But that will not in any way diminish his significance.
Fame has not turned his head: he remains modest, soft-spoken and self-effacing. He embodies the best of what India can be – a world leader whose achievements elicit universal admiration while being uncontaminated by triumphalism or egoism. July