November 17, 2013 by Ashwin
I was just 14 days old when Sachin made his debut at a very tender age. And exactly after 24 years and 2 days after breaking innumerable records and becoming an immortal he has decided to retire.
At the age of 16 Sachin was thrashing legendary Pakistani bowlers while I was just struggling with Maths and Chemistry googlies. Striking a chord between school classes, innumerable tuitions and coaching classes, assignments but only one thing kept me happy i.e. Cricket. By cricket here I mean Sachin. There is no Cricket for me without SRT.
My romance with Cricket started in 1996 World Cup, India playing Kenya in the first game and Sachin making a hundred. Everyone at home was glued to the Black & White TV sets. But Sachin didn’t become my hero at that time. It was Ajay Jadeja, with raised collars, chewing gums and brown sunglasses and a carefree attitude with a smile. I started following him. Next day, I went to school with raised collars and chewing gum, I couldn’t afford the sunglasses at that time and my teacher slapped me. In the Semis when Sachin got out to Jayasurya the TV was switched off and I was asked to go to bed and sleep. India lost in the semis of the WC. I still have shady memories of Kambli crying but didn’t understand the significance of it.
But I clearly remember The Desert Storm in 1998. By then I had grown up a bit and so had my interest in cricket. The memories of Kasprowicz being smashed for two consecutive sixes. Shane Warne being hit for a six over his head on the first ball. India winning the Coca Cola Cup. Sachin was presented with a huge key and the entire team hopped on the Opel Astra with Sachin driving. I also remember Henry Olonga getting slaughtered by the hands of GOD and perhaps 1998 was the year which made Sachin a Stalwart of the game.
At that time MRF for me was not a tyre company but Sachin’s bat. I asked Dad to get me a MRF bat but instead I got a SS bat used by Sourav Ganguly but still I was happy. During that period Indian Cricket Team was all about Sachin. If Sachin got out India got out. It all depended on one little genius. Though things changed later with Ganguly and Dravid accomplishing themselves but the space taken by Sachin couldn’t be filled by anyone.
His century against Kenya in 1999 WC after his father passed away was a very emotional one and spoke volumes about his dedication to this beautiful game. It’s only during 1999 World Cup, I first read this slogan “Cricket is our Religion and Sachin is our God”. I hated it at that time how could anyone compare Sachin to God. But a few days later I too believed he was the God of the religion I loved the most.
One of my favourite Innings of Sachin was his 136 against Pakistan in Chennai in a losing cause. Sachin played that match with terrible back pain but when India lost that match he cried inconsolably. I was too angry that day and smashed the TV remote into the wall. Years went past but Sachin’s appetite for runs only got bigger. Another such knock was against Australia in 2009 in Hyderabad, his 175, probably the best one day innings was in a losing cause. This innings devastated me. I didn’t eat that day, I cried and was just lost somewhere for next 2-3 days.
After the 2003 WC, Indian cricket team was not just about Sachin. Things had changed drastically. We got into the final but the devastating loss to Aussies was not easy to take. I didn’t watch Cricket for some time after that. 2007 World Cup was worst of all.But then came the 2011 World Cup in India. India reached the final and a billion hearts were praying for Sachin’s world cup. But then Lasith Malinga got him out my heart sank. I had my hand on my head in disbelief. But Dhoni’s six wiped all the bad memories of previous world cup campaigns.
Memory of Sachin being carried by Kohli and Pathan on their shoulders after the World Cup win is etched in my mind and for me there will never be any better cricketing memory. The world had been conquered and Sachin’s dream had been fulfilled. Whenever I feel low I watch those moments and it never fails to bring a smile on my face. There are so many happy moments to cherish, to re-live. But as they say all good things come to an end.
This one too came to an end. It’s been 12 hrs it happened and I’m crying again while writing this. Sachin has retired and it’s yet to sink in. From the past two weeks I’ve been telling my dad, brother, friends and colleagues that I still can’t believe we won’t watch Sachin play again. Ever. There would be no loud cheers like when Sachin came to bat, no rotation of wrists, no Aila and there would be no Sachinnnnnnn – Sachinnnn.
People who witnessed it live at Wankhede were really lucky. When Kohli and Dhoni lifted him today it brought back memories of 2nd April 2011. The crowd was amazing and gave an idea what Sachin means to this nation. Sachin was an inspiration to the nation, united people of different communities. I feel very lucky to have followed most of his career. Sachin’s batting was the only time my mom would skip her serial or TV would forget about the 8 PM News.
It’s an end of an era and after Sachin Cricket would be just be a sport not a religion. Yes, he is going as he deserves and on a very happy note but the first memory of childhood I have is of Sachin. All my cricket in fact all my life, Sachin has played a huge role. With Sachin retiring it’s the end of an era I grew up watching, the likes of Ganguly, Kumble, Laxman, Dravid and Sachin. His absence has left a void and that just cannot be filled. There are so many memories and what we witnessed today would never be forgotten.
Although I don’t write much but I had to write this. I wrote exactly what came to my mind and there is so much to write that I could keep writing for hours.Now I’m going to watch Sachin’s speech again and probably cry one more time before going to sleep.
I just want to say one thing: Thank You Sachin. Sachin brought smiles to our faces, laughs, cheers, tears and what not. Sachin had become part of my life, a hero for me and his retirement feels like a Doomsday. There would never be any other like you. You will be missed!