| Sachin Tendulkar, in the city, on Sunday. A Telegraph picture |
Calcutta: Most of us cricket fans who walk the earth in this 21st century haven’t been lucky enough to live in the times of a WG Grace or a Don Bradman. We wouldn’t really have known what made this sport a little different from others in terms of the romance that a single player can evoke in a mass audience if a certain Sachin Tendulkar didn’t pick up the bat and wielded it like a magician’s wand.
At 8.30pm on Sunday night, the magician arrived in the city for one last show at Eden Gardens. And immediately, the arrival terminal at the city airport was transformed into a playground of almost-hypnotised fans who swayed in whichever direction Sachin moved.
From the 8-year-old holding on to his father’s hand with a thousand questions on his face to an octogenarian ready to neglect his luggage for a mere glimpse of the man… Around 500 people kept running to and fro from Gate No.1 to Gate No.3 of the terminal with the desperate desire to see Sachin, the Pied Piper of contemporary cricket.
The Master is in the city to play his 199th Test, against the West Indies, beginning Wednesday. There are two more days to go before Sachin gets into his Test all-white, but the scene at the airport would surely serve as a prelude to the epic that would be written at the Eden.
The epic wouldn’t necessarily be about how many runs the legend will score in his penultimate career Test, it will all be about the presence of an ‘immortal’ among 60,000-plus mortal admirers.
As the city is basking in the festive glow of a larger-than-life occasion, the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) is leaving no stone unturned in its endeavour to make the experience memorable.
So here’s the latest from the CAB stable… There will be a Sachin Tendulkar to welcome Sachin Tendulkar at the Eden on Monday morning when the India team turn up for practice. Don’t get confused because the earlier Sachin is a life-size wax sculpture that will be stationed in front of the team dressing room.
“We have made all the arrangements… The wax figure has been made by an artist from Asansol and we will also offer it to Sachin as a gift, of course if he is willing to take it,” CAB treasurer Biswarup Dey said on Sunday.
Dey, along with CAB joint secretary Subir Ganguly, had a tough time at the airport and their plans of welcoming Sachin with a bouquet of 199 roses was almost ruined by crowd frenzy.
Coming back to the CAB’s plans, the wax figure isn’t the only item on the welcome list. Dey also revealed that 100 junior cricketers wearing Sachin T-shirts would be there at the Eden gate to welcome the icon. Plus, keeping the Diwali mood in mind, the association has specially arranged 24 soundless ‘flower-pot’ crackers (symbolising his 24-year-old career) that would burst rose petals when Sachin steps into the Eden.
The CAB was abuzz with activities on Sunday as well. A tableau carrying Sachin cutouts was flagged off by state sports minister Madan Mitra. A music CD with 11 songs dedicated to Sachin was also released.
Earlier in the day, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha was the first among the 15-member squad to reach the city at around noon. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, along with those players who the played Saturday’s Bangalore ODI, arrived at 2.15pm.
Team India, however, had to give their Diwali celebrations a skip due to their hectic schedule.
“It’s not many hours since we finished playing the ODI (versus Australia). We had to get up this morning for the flight. So we need some rest first,” a member of the team management said at the team hotel.
The city, however, isn’t going to rest. It is happily busy celebrating Sachin Tendulkar.