"I have decided to retire from the One Day format of the game. I feel blessed to have fulfilled the dream of being part of a World Cup wining Indian team. The preparatory process to defend the World Cup in 2015 should begin early and in right earnest. I would like to wish the team all the very best for the future. I am eternally grateful to all my well wishers for their unconditional support and love over the years."
Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell to one day cricket arrived with this brief statement on Sunday morning. The Little Master pulling the plug on his ODI career, announcing his decision to no longer be part of India’s 50-over team. Considered the most complete batsman in the modern era, and unquestionably, one of the greatest ever to have wielded the willow in the shorter format of the game, Tendulkar leaves behind a glorious legacy for the world of cricket, that has only been enriched by his immense contribution.
Tendulkar’s longevity in the game that fetched him 18,426 runs from 463 ODIS, also spurred him on to many records, a few of which might remain till posterity. Time obscures certain specifics, but the chequered career that saw him become the most capped player in the shorter format, has been a wonderful joyride for all who have witnessed his journey over the past 23 years. While records are meant to be broken, it is Tendulkar’s unquestionable status in the hearts and minds of fans across the planet that will make sure his enduring legacy remains untouched by Father Time.
But did it all go smoothly for the Little Master? Did he quit just because he felt he had nothing more to achieve, or contribute in one day cricket? Was he not enjoying his cricket as much as he would have wanted to? The BCCI fronted up to the media, stating it wasn’t a shocker, as questions flew thick and fast as to why the Little Master decided to call it quits on the eve of the team selection for the series against Pakistan. At the board headquarters in Churchgate, Mumbai, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the BCCI, Prof Ratnakar Shetty said, “Tendulkar’s decision is not a shocker for BCCI. He was waiting for the right time."
Sections in the Indian media had whipped up frenzy recently, suggesting Tendulkar would surely be playing in the series against Pakistan, and that he had apprised the chief selector Sandeep Patil about it. But the turn of events within seventy two hours, has left many an onlooker surprised. While no one can confirm if it indeed was the right time for Tendulkar to bid adieu to ODI cricket, CNN-IBN had reported on Friday, Dec 21, that an uncertain future awaited him, atleast in ODI cricket, and the powers-that-be, might ignore him when they select the team to play Pakistan. So what nudged the legend to walk away will perhaps, never be known, atleast, nothing on record. Instead, outpourings of admiration, love, appreciation, and respect will flood our senses shortly as one day cricket readies itself to live without Tendulkar.
For a man who has always provided his own context, oblivious of the incessant curiosity about him, preparing to watch Tendulkar in coloured clothes just in repeat telecasts and replays, though inevitable, is immensely sad. A gentle reminder that a lifetime of watching a genius, and the pure, unbridled joy it brought, is over. Almost immediately, another disturbing question pops up, as if in connivance with his one day retirement. Will the Master pad up to play the test matches against Australia in February 2013? As I pen down these thoughts, the wintry climes of a certain hill station away from Mumbai, provides a more comforting retreat to the Little Master. A man who has been the master of his own destiny, here’s hoping Tendulkar doesn’t leave such thoughts unattended. After all, Indian cricket’s inner workings do leave much in the realms of speculation.
As a fine cricket writer once told me, “no one will even remember how you leave…The memory of you at your peak is what will remain, forever etched…”