A Tribute To The Master Blaster
The God of Cricket, Sachin Tendulkar strides onto the field to wrought his legendary magic for the last time. As the nation bows in awed tribute, Hi! BLITZ talks to the country’s cricketers, present and past, to understand what makes him the god of the gentleman’s game.
Text: Archana Shenoy
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
An ardent admirer of the Master Blaster, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has the utmost respect for the veteran cricketer. This quote given by him pertains to India’s spectacular win of the 2011 World Cup. He says:
“Winning the World Cup was a combined dream and a great passion that Sachin paaji never expressed. But deep in his mind, he knew it was his last World Cup and was very conscious about it. The greatest satisfaction was of presenting the Cup to him and no one from the team can ever forget that moment. Now that he has decided to bid the game adieu, I am not going to shed tears. Instead, I am going to sit back and enjoy the last days of watching Sachin Tendulkar live in action. He has set extremely high standards for any of us to follow.”
Sachin Tendulkar’s opening partner at the crease, Virender Sehwag has spent several years enjoying the game in his company. This quote is with reference to the first game that Sehwag played for Team India. He says:
“When I walked out on the pitch to play my first test, Sachin Tendulkar was at the other end. He helped me calm the butterflies that seemed to have taken residence in my stomach; told me to go out and enjoy my game and forget everything else. That’s what I did and it is what I continue doing even today.”
Virat Kohli made his mark with his eloquent words on Sachin Tendulkar. The quote in question here was made by Virat post India’s World Cup win when he said: “We did this (winning the World Cup) for Sachin. He has carried the burden of the nation on his shoulders for 21 years, it is time we carried him on our shoulders for a change!”
“Everyone complimented me on the statement I made about Tendulkar,” says the firebrand cricketer with a pleased grin. Though he didn’t receive a personal reaction from the man in question, Kohli was mighty pleased with his words and the response it evoked. “I don’t need a reaction from Sachin; he is one of the most humble, most simple people to have played the game and that is why he is so greatly loved. Every player on the team is indebted to him in one way or the other. The World Cup win was our tribute to him.”
One of the few cricketers who’s had the privilege of knowing Sachin Tendulkar since his debut in cricket, the bowler and former Indian captain has only praise for the legendary cricketer. He says:
“Sachin Tendulkar has been synonymous with the game itself. It will certainly be a sad day to see him walk away from the field. I had the honour of starting my career literally alongside him and it seems he has seen about 100 to 150 players retire before him and those who have come after him. It’s a testament to his longevity, skill and ability to perform and his talent to not just live up to his own expectations but to millions of others. He has influenced cricketers over the last 20 years to take up the game and he has touched the hearts of millions of fans not just in India, but across the world. It’s tough to see someone who has been a part of our lives for 24 years go away, but it had to come and I am really glad that I was associated with him in a way throughout his career.”
Possibly one of the few other cricketers on the Indian team to command as much respect as Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid has shared a long and illustrious innings with him. Here’s what he had to say about the Master Blaster:
“It’s going to be really strange for a lot of people, me included. We can almost imagine a one-day team, which has been playing without him for while, but to imagine a Test team without Sachin Tendulkar... It was virtually a given that he would be around and I guess we all wished he would go on forever. But that’s life. It’s a moment to actually celebrate that someone could achieve so much excellence and maintain that standard for 24 years. It’s only when he decided to move on that we started looking at his numbers and it sort of boggles your mind that somebody could actually achieve what he has for over 24 years. It’s been a phenomenal career.
I know Anil (Kumble) started with him but I was junior to him in terms of playing cricket for India. When I got into the team, he was my captain in the second Test match. I sort of always looked up to him and have been inspired by his level of excellence. He was a benchmark for all of us to follow.”
A friend and associate of Sachin Tendulkar, Javagal Srinath retired from the game several years ago but has maintained a close friendship with the Master Blaster ever since. His words on the legend:
“I was in Bangladesh when I got a call from Sachin at around 1.30pm saying he was retiring from cricket. All I cherish is the relationship that we have had all these years. I mean now that it’s been almost ten years since I quit playing cricket, it was nice of him of call me and say, ‘Look I am quitting the game and I just want to thank you for being a part of my cricket.’ It was an honour.
“It was a privilege playing along with him. As a captain and as a player we have had some real hard discussions on the field and what I cherish now is the great relationship we have had and we still remain good friends.”
An outstanding batsman himself, VVS Laxman has only praise and admiration for Sachin Tendulkar. Here’s what he had to say:
“It was my honour and privilege to play alongside Sachin Tendulkar for 16 long years. I wish to congratulate him on his phenomenal success. He has been an inspiration to a lot of people, including me. I must add here that his parents, his brother, his wife and family should be complimented specially for the way they have looked after and supported Sachin for the last 24 years.”
The flamboyant showman from Chennai spent many of his growing years admiring the legend of Indian cricket from afar. Little did he know that one day he would share the crease with the man himself. Vijay still sounds awestruck when he says:
“I strongly believe that the kind of person you are is of more consequence than the kind of clothes you wear or the way you look. Take Sachin Tendulkar for example. He’s a legend but he’s never given importance to external appearances. He’s always approachable and mingles with everyone, never making others feel inferior to him.”
His adoration of the cricketing legend is quite obvious. “Tendulkar is my idol. I cannot begin to explain the feeling when I’m in the same room with him. It is an honour to have the opportunity to play on the same team as him,” says Vijay, in a voice filled with awe. “He’s everybody’s role model; he doesn’t need to talk to us or give us tips or even compliment us for a good performance. A glance from him is more than enough for me; I feel on top of the world each time he looks at me,” says Vijay, making his admiration of Tendulkar explicitly clear.
Image credits: Hi!Blitz, hdwallpapers.in