Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement will leave a big hole in the Test batting line-up. It wouldn’t be easy to replace him. See what happened after Laxman, Ganguly and Dravid retired... it will take time for the middle-order to gel. The No. 4 position in Indian cricket has always been with some of the greats. Whoever bats at No. 4, he is going to be under a lot of pressure and will have to live up to the huge expectations. It will be hard to imagine any player in the history of the game who combines classical technique with raw aggression like the way the little champion did. There is not a single shot he cannot play.
No matter how much you say about Sachin Tendulkar, words always fall short in describing and defining The Master. He is the one and only as far as the game of cricket is concerned. The cricketing fraternity, from the past and the present generation, saluted the icon on the day he announced that his 200th Test will be the last.
Tendulkar’s retirement had been the matter of much speculation. He had wound down his career in phases, announcing his retirement from ODIs in late December 2012, and with the BCCI shoehorning a home series against West Indies before the controversy-hit tour to South Africa, it had seemed an apt moment for a home farewell.
Former Pakistan captain, Javed Miandad, who saw Tendulkar make his Test debut at 16 in Karachi in 1989, said: “I think Tendulkar has been the ideal role model in Indian cricket and that is why we are now seeing a new generation of quality batsmen from India.
The first time I saw him play he bravely faced a top bowling attack of Imran, Waqar, Qadir and as the series progressed he grew in confidence.
“He has always remained technically very high class. But what has made him such a high profile sportsman is because he has always remained very down to earth person with no airs about him.”
The following are excerpts
Chandu Borde: I saw him during India’s tour of Pakistan in 1989. I have never seen any cricketer who took the game so seriously. On his first tour itself, he would not leave training till the time the groundsmen used to tell us that it was time to wrap up.
Ajit Wadekar: I thought he could have continued for one more year. But like Vijay Merchant had always said you should retire when people are asking why (did you retire) and not why not (retire). That’s the way it is. Tendulkar is the greatest ever cricketer in the world. I don’t think anyone can overtake his records and the phenomenal number of runs he has scored. He was also so humble and never responded to criticism, choosing to let his bat do the talking.
Dilip Vengsarkar: Sachin is the greatest cricketer India has produced and a fantastic role model for all cricketers with his demeanour on and off the field. He has set almost all the records in all the formats and has had one of the greatest careers in the history of the game. I did not really expect him to retire. I thought he would play all through the year (season). He’s chosen to go on a high after the 200th Test.
Mohammed Azharuddin: It was coming for sure but I didn’t have a clue as to when it was coming. It’s his decision and we must respect it. We should remember his playing career as something that has always given us joy and made us proud. I first saw him during a Hyderabad versus Mumbai Ranji match where he batted well. And then saw his daredevilry against Abdul Qadir from the dressing room. A lot of people had talent but what made him different was passion.
There are many memorable moments but the 1996 Cape Town Test match was amazing, where we both scored centuries. The South Africa attack had Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Brian McMillan and Lance Klusener and we literally thrashed them during a particular period.
Ashok Malhotra: It’s the end of an era... For the last one-and-a-half years, he hasn’t really been the Sachin we are used to seeing… But now that the Board has organised this series against the West Indies, it would provide the great man to retire gracefully. Overall, it’s certainly a wise decision… At least now people wouldn’t further ask any more questions on which is the right time to go.
Arun Lal: It is his personal decision… But if you ask me, he is good enough to play for a few more years. Sachin has been someone who has given so much to the game and fans over the years.
At one time, we felt that he will carry on forever… That he will continue enthralling us with his cricket. But then, all good things come to an end. He will always remain an example for each and every cricketer.
Kiran More: He had retired from ODIs and T20s earlier, but now when we will sit in front of television (after his 200th Test), we will miss his presence altogether for the first time in 24 years. It was always going to be a difficult decision for him… But now that he’s taken it, we should respect it. He’s been a perfect role model without any hint of controversy. He is the greatest sportsman from India and cricket is so popular in the country because of Sachin.
Lalchand Rajput: Even now he practises for two hours, which makes him a big role model for youngsters. Sachin was born to be Milestone Sachin Tendulkar because whatever he did was a milestone. I think there will be somebody to take Sachin’s place, but I don’t know when that time will come. We will have to wait and see.
Devang Gandhi: All good things come to an end. That he will be having 200 Tests beside his name speaks volumes of what he has achieved over the years. On or off the field, he has always conducted himself wonderfully. He has been a great ambassador to the game.
He has been the best example for budding cricketers… Not just in cricket, Sachin has stood out in other facets of life as well.
During every match, he has always been one of the first to reach the ground. He has been entertaining us for more than 20 years… Now that he has taken the decision, it certainly is the right one. At some point, the body does takes a toll and you have to consider your fitness.
Deep Dasgupta: A huge void will be created when Sachin leaves cricket. He was not just a great cricketer, but also an excellent human being. Our generation grew up watching him. Playing for more than two decades, he has been a permanent feature of Indian cricket and has become part of our lives. It will be difficult to adjust without him… It won’t be an easy thing to accept for the fans. The whole concept of his not being around is really hard to believe.
Nevertheless, the time to quit had to arrive. I’m sure Sachin will come up with contributions off-the-field as well. I don’t think one should keep on blabbering over whether this was the right time to quit or not…
Let’s not get into this because this, after all, is a petty matter. Sachin still has two more Tests to play and let’s just relish and celebrate his presence on the field for one last occasion. I’m sure Sachin, too, will relish his last two Tests.
Manoj Tiwary: Sachin is an inspiration… There are three incidents which will always remain fresh in my memory. When I hurt my shoulder in Bangladesh in 2008, I was feeling quite low. He was on his way to Bangladesh at that point in time.
As soon as he heard of my injury, he called me… Upon learning that I was planning to undergo an operation by Dr Anant Joshi, he suggested otherwise. He suggested the name of Dr Andrew Wallace and made all the arrangements… It was so touching.
I also remember my debut ODI match in Brisbane. I was on the verge of crying after getting out on 2. In the dressing room, he came over to me and calmed me. He said: “I scored my first international century after several innings… So don’t lose hope and make the best use of the next opportunity”. Those words certainly helped.
Then, when he got his hundredth International century, I was the one who was carrying the drinks. I saw how determined and focused he was on getting the hundred. After the match, we had a huge celebration. I remember after cutting the cake, Sachin offered me the first slice. I felt so honoured.
Cheteshwar Pujara: When I got out for four in the first Test innings, Sachin came up to me that evening and said my time would come and it did come in the second innings when I scored 72 runs. Whenever you get a motivational talk from a legend like him, it helps. His presence in the middle always eased the tension. I used to watch him bat but switch off the television set once he got out. So it was my dream to play alongside him.