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From Karachi to Ahmedabad, it’s been an incredible journey

- Sachin completes 23 years at the very highest level today

Calcutta: Sachin Tendulkar, MP, was a notable absentee at this year’s Indian Grand Prix.

Sachin wouldn’t have waved the chequered flag for the second time, but would have had the opportunity to see Michael Schumacher, a champion he admires, race for the last time in India.

Quizzed, friend Sameer Gaur, an architect of the awesome Buddh International Circuit, told The Telegraph: “The Master is unhappy that neither he nor the Mumbai Indians did well in the CLT20. He’s feeling rather low and, so, decided not to come...”

That for somebody who completes 23 years at the very highest level on Thursday!

Not having got runs in his last appearance for India (Test series versus New Zealand) too, Sachin instead began preparing for Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy-opener, against Railways.

No surprise that Sachin top-scored with 137 the only time Mumbai batted.

That Sachin chose to play domestic cricket in an era when most prefer to vacation or fulfil commitments of personal sponsors, when they aren’t required for national duty, says much about his commitment.

And to excellence.

It’s a lesson for those who actually want to learn from Sachin, instead of merely saying that The Master is their idol.

Indeed, talk to Sachin if you want to know more about raising the bar.

Last month, Sachin declared that he’d “re-assess” his future “in November.”

Well, there’s a Test on his home ground, the Wankhede, then Pakistan will be coming for a short series and, before the 2012-13 season ends, Australia’s due for a Test series.

By the time Australia return home, Sachin won’t be far away from his 40th birthday. Could the announcement be made around that time?

Nobody knows for sure, for Sachin keeps a distance from even those who’ve known him well throughout his career.

It’s interesting what Sachin said in a one-on-one earlier this year, days after getting his 100th International hundred.

“That’s the way (a private person) I am... Everybody is different... The way I look at things, the way I respond to situations, could be very different to others... I accept that... I respect others for the way they are and I should be allowed that space.”

In the same exclusive with this Reporter, in Dhaka, Sachin emphasised: “I didn’t take to cricket to prove something. Playing for India continues to motivate me and, as long as I remain motivated, I don’t have to look at a fresh challenge...

“I’ll play as long as I feel confident of delivering. I’ll stop the day I feel I’ve lost that confidence. It’s not about ‘I’ or about ‘me’... It’s about Indian cricket.”

No cricketer has been subjected to as much pressure as Sachin. Nobody has faced as many cameras. But, equally, no cricketer has received as much adulation.

From being teased by the burqa-clad in the zenana stands in Pakistan to being conferred the Membership of The Order of Australia, it has been a journey with few parallels in sport.

One hopes The Master has a terrific 23rd ‘birthday’.