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A 90s kid’s tribute to his hero

Posted in Uncategorized by abhijeetrawle on October 10, 2013

Its always a sad moment for a fan when his hero hangs up his cape. Right now, thousands like me will be paying tributes to Sachin through their blogs, tweets, walls and what not. Pundits and fans will keep comparing him to Bradman or will keep determining where he stood among his peers – Lara and Ponting. Friends will will argue on whether he should have retired earlier or if he did win enough matches. The media will keep analyzing what happens to brand Sachin and how his retirement will impact brand Dhoni. Honestly, does any of that really matter? How qualified are we or any of the pundits who preceded him to make any judgement on any of those debates? So, let me as a fan just recall what Sachin meant for a generation growing up in probably the wonder years of our lives – the 90s

Like millions of kids growing up in India in the 90s, for me there was only one hero. As kids playing maidan cricket, we all wanted to bat like Tendulkar – right from adjusting the crotch before taking strike to buying ridiculously heavy cricket bats. Ask any of those kids today which shot he remembers the most from gully cricket days – it will be the straight loft over the bowlers head (or a straight drive on the off side), showing the bowler the MRF logo. Ask any of those gentlemen who debate on Sachin’s retirement (including me – I wanted him to retire last year for my own selfish reasons) where they were when Sachin scored the Desert Storm century and they will tell you which spot they were sitting in and which cricketing superstition they followed to ensure a Sachin boundary. Ask those who say Sachin plays for his own records if they didn’t shed a tear when he overcame a personal tragedy to play for his country, scored a 100 and gazed at the heavens to thank his recently departed father. Ask those who debate on whether Sachin won enough games for India who came in after Sachin got out in the Australia tours in the 90s and all they will say is “pata nahi yaar, Sachin out hua aur main school gaya”. I wonder if marketing geniuses and TV channels ever figured out that the way to maximize ad revenue in an India test match overseas would be to shove in maximum Pepsi, MRF and Boost ads while Sachin was at the crease. People would invariably tune off the TV sets when he would get out. Only Sachin could evoke such extreme fan reaction. It didn’t matter who the other 10 people in the team were in the early 90s – there was only One who everyone thought could win the match for India.

People who debate whether Sachin won enough matches for India forget that he made it his personal mission to put smiles on faces of a billion people. A middle class 40 year old would get reamed by his boss at work, nagged by his wife and his kids at home but he would find peace watching Sachin battling against Ambrose and Walsh. A kid burdened with homework from school and ridiculous tuition classes would get a break from his mom to watch Sachin dominate Warne and launch ruthless counter attacks against McGrath, Akram and Shoaib who would try to rip through the rest of the Indian batting line up. A fatigued housewife would take a break at the end of the day and sit with the family cheering for Sachin. Diwali seemed even more special as Sachin bowled India to victory in the semi final of the Hero Cup. We celebrated his victories and became dejected in his losses. There isn’t a stronger emotional connection between the masses and one sportsman anywhere in the world than the one between the Indian fans and Sachin

Sachin played for the game and allowed people to smile when they wanted to move on from national tragedies. The match fixing scandal dampened the spirits of all fans – enter Sachin, Dravid and Ganguly along with a new generation of team India in Nairobi in Champions Trophy 2000. Sachin took it to McGrath, hooked him out of the stadium and even unsettled him with some un-Sachin like unparliamentary language. You can’t fix those brilliant moments. The God delivered when it was needed the most, and the faith in the religion was restored. Fast forward 8 years – 26/11 took place in middle of an India-England test series. The series resumed in Chennai and Sachin along with Yuvraj chased down 387 and fittingly dedicated his 100 to the victims of the horrific tragedy. What bigger service can a sportsman do in his capacity than make people smile when its the most difficult thing to do?

Records, endorsements, longetivity are all byproducts of his love for the game and his work ethic. Not every kid clocks in 10,000 hours practicing before the age of 15. Nor do all experienced sportsmen reinvent themselves as their skills and reflexes deteriorate. Nor does every sportsman leave with such adulation from 3 generations of a country which he inspired. An era will end in November. When India are 2 down in the first session, we will no longer have standing ovations as a legend walks on to the field. Nor will we have a rapturous applause when that batsman is out. The memories though will be cherished for a lifetime. Thank you Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, for making us cricket fans believe in the team, making us smile and inspiring a generation of Indian sportsmen to win.

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