Sachin Tendulkar, hailed as God of cricket, announced his retirement after 200th Test at Wankhede. The decision is going to end cricket maestro’s illustrious cricket career spanning 24 years which changed the face of Indian cricket. It’s natural for Sachin’s fans to be sad but this moment comes one day in the life of every player. The little master’s cricket journey has been remarkable. A player needs to have an extraordinary ability to carry the aspiration of over one billion people on his shoulder for the last 24 years. He not only made almost all the records in his name but also united, encouraged and inspired the entire country. Whenever he walked to the crease, he has been under tremendous pressure to fulfill the aspiration of crores of fans. Sachin’s performance has been on the wane for the past few years due to older age. Despite, he remained a role model for Indian cricket fans.

People continued to be hopeful of Sachin turning the tide in favour of Team India with his remarkable performances. This probably mounted undue pressure on him and made him choosy about his selection of shots. His dedication and devotion can be gauged with the fact that despite spectacular success, Sachin would prepare every game as it were his debut match. Sachin’s success is based on his enormous talent, skill, devotion and quest for victory. Announcing his retirement, he said that it’s an honour for him to represent the country. Sachin said, “It would be impossible for him to even imagine his life without cricket?” Such utterance is enough to understand his emotional attachment with the game. Clearly, announcement of retirement is painful for Sachin who is passing through an emotional moment. This is the reason he made the announcement by writing a letter to BCCI. The cricket legend avoided media to announce his retirement as he was aware that that he can’t control his emotion in presence of cricket fans.

No doubt, the history of cricket was bright enough even before Sachin burst onto the international scene. However, the little master added more hue and colour to the game throughout his 24-year long glorious career. Cricket was mainly gaining popularity in India after the 1983 World Cup triumph but its reach was not that far and wide due to certain limitations. Prior to Sachin, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev were the only Indian cricketers who gained recognition in international arena. When Sunil Gavaskar bid adieu to the game in 1987, Indian cricket was looking for an icon, who could match up to Sunil Gavaskar’s persona. It was the phase when Indian Team was not being considered as a thriving force. After Sachin’s advent in international cricket, things changed as more number of crowds started thronging fields to witness the little master’s performance. 16-year old Sachin ripped apart the famed Pakistani bowling line-up in his debut Test. It’s indeed one of the most unforgettable moments in the world of cricket in 1989 since then, he never looked back.

Notably with increasing popularity of Sachin, the cricket market also started getting expanded in India. The influential nations started to acknowledge India’s cricketing prowess. It would not be a hyperbole to say that Sachin has not only popularized cricket in India but also played a key role in giving the game a new global recognition. If cricket made a place for itself amongst other popular sports like football and tennis, then directly or indirectly, Sachin’s popularity has a role behind it. The way Sachin has been adored and admired outside his home turf is indeed commendable. In fact, it’s Sachin, who has made cricket a ‘religion’ in India and attained a God like status. The Indian Premier League is raining money on Indian cricket due to which players associated with other sports are holding cricket responsible behind their lackluster reach and status.  Sachin was the first ever cricketer, whose advertisement contract crossed Rs 100 crore mark. Though, several cricketers have entered this ‘elite’ league now, the trend was set by Sachin who deserves credit for it. Besides, it also needs to be discussed over maintaining status of Test cricket which is passing through such a phase which is witnessing less number of spectators in the field. In such a scenario, Sachin’s absence may further led to reduction of crowds.

It can be said that Sachin did not stand up to the mark as a captain and he can’t be held sole responsible for it as his personal performance has been much better than that of other team mates. When Sachin stepped down from captaincy, the rumours was that the little master was not given a free hand in executing his own plans. He then continued playing his natural game with ease and flow under various captains. He had no problem in playing either under his contemporaries’ captaincy or under his junior MS Dhoni’s stewardship. In fact, Dhoni himself had once said that he was quite intimidated by Sachin’s presence in the dressing room initially and never had the courage to look straight into his eyes. Later, Sachin himself helped Dhoni to overcome this ‘fear’. This rightly presents an exemplary illustration of the legendary cricketer’s great personality.

Sachin’s grounded behavior not only impressed his teammates but the entire nation. His politeness is an example for those who gets blinded under the wrap of arrogance after getting a bit of fame. It’s not yet clear that what Sachin will do after hanging up his boots but there is no doubt over the fact that it will be difficult to fill the void left by him. Many cricket fans are yet wondering that will the cricket be the same without Sachin?

Sachin was nominated to Rajya Sabha in recent past. He is yet to devote much time to the Upper House due to his cricketing commitments. The nation will however wish to see Sachin leaving a rich imprint in political arena as he brought glories to the world of cricket. He is expected to inspire and motivate youth to work without fail towards their goal with sheer determination, hard-work and discipline. The youth of country lack these elements.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on October 13, 2013 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)