Sachin Tendulkar, India’s greatest sporting icon, announced his retirement from one-day international cricket on Saturday, Dec 22, bringing to an end a spectacular record breaking career spanning 23 years.
“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 winning Indian team…,” the 39-year-old batting and cultural hero said in a statement released by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the governing body of Indian cricket.
During his seminal batting exploits, Tendulkar broke virtually every cricketing record in the one-day format, including amassing the most runs, 18426 in total from 463 matches, clocking an average of 44.83, and hitting the most centuries, 49 in total.
His stature in cricketing world draws comparisons with international sporting icons such as Michael Schumacher, Fedor Emelianenko, Roger Federer, Usain Bolt, and Jack Nicklaus.
Despite well publicized injuries and occasional career lows, his endurance and passion for the game remained unassailable. Towards the end of his fabled one-day batting career, he hit the first double century in 2010, raising the bar even higher for future cricketers.
To most Indians, he carried the country’s flag with pride and dignity even in the face of long odds, and lifted the spirits of a billion people, every time he made a century, won a match, or a man of the series award.
Outside India, he remains a highly respected figure, worthy of emulation by tens of millions of young people in Australia, Britannia, and most of Indian Subcontinent, except parts of Pakistan.
Australian cricket legend Sir Don Bradman, considered the greatest batsman in cricket’s history, saw Tendulkar as his spiritual successor, in technique, endurance and natural abilities.
Even within Pakistan, the much detested arch rivals to India, Tendulkar commanded adulation and respect, especially within the provinces of Sindh, Kashmir, Karachi and Balochistan.
Tendulkar made his ODI debut against Pakistan on Dec 18, 1989, and rapidly became the anchor and standard bearer for India’s batting order.
When poor performances by overrated and undeserving cricketers such as Harbhajan Singh, Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh threatened to ruin India’s prospects in major international series against foreign rivals, Tendulkar single-handedly held the line to deliver impossible victories for the Indian team.
A proud Indian and a Marathi (a linguistic group in India’s western peninsula), he was inspired at an early age by his local hero, Sunil Gavaskar, himself India’s leading batsman during 1970s and 1980s.
Tendulkar’s finest moment came when he became part of India’s World-Cup winning team, whom he led from the front by becoming its leading scorer and strategist.
Blessed with a beautiful Gujarati wife and two children, in his personal life he is the typical middle class family man, devoted, loving and humble.
Whether Tendulkar’s records will ever be shattered remains to be seen, but the little master, as he is fondly called across the English speaking world, will continue to inspire future generations as a symbol of Indian cultural and sporting renaissance.