- The smart ones realise it's time to retire: Boycott on Sachin TendulkarFelt my heart beat had stopped: Amitabh Bachchan on Sachin Tendulkar's retirementAs Sachin Tendulkar retires, depressed India bids adieu to its favourite sonMumbai's Wankhede Stadium to host Sachin Tendulkar's farewell Test
those moments, he was like a baby whose rattle had been snatched away. He trudged back, eyes wet and tears drifting down his still chikna cheeks. That visual was made for TV promos and was used often to promote India-South Africa encounters. At 33, when we talked, on camera, Sachin still blushed as he recalled it. He recalled also how this had melted the heart of the umpire as well. He came to him later to say sorry, he had bungled. But Sachin was still pained, more than a decade later, as just one more good innings (besides Kapil Dev’s Stan McCabe-esque last-stand 100) could have saved that Test, and the series for India.
Much more will be written by better and more knowledgeable storytellers on Sachin’s great cricketing moments, his contribution to the game you could describe as the subcontinent’s only secular religion, his records, averages, how he mastered Warne and Murali, Shoaib and McGrath, his enthusiasm, attitude and so on. The important thing for me, the non-expert, “general” type is that his rise coincided with that of a new India. His debut year, 1989, marked the end of Congress dominance and the rise of many “third” forces and democratic mutinies, Mandir, Mandal, then the mortgaging of gold, and finally, the economic reform. If you had any doubts that cricket is a reflection of the mood and health of our society and economy, look at how our record changed 1989 onwards. You can then ascribe it to the arrival of Sachin, or economic reform, or both. Because Sachin, by himself, was a phenomenon. But there had been others before him: Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev. But they were more or less lone warriors in a team that did not particularly believe it could win consistently, like the country whose flag it played under. Reinvention of Indian cricket kept pace with the resurgence of Indian economy and society.
You may call it pop sociology, but look at the facts. When Sachin arrived, Pakistan had a world-beating team, spearheaded by its murderous bowling unit: Waqar, Wasim, Imran, Abdul Qadir. India was an outlier. From then on, the two teams and, frankly, societies, evolved in different directions. This was also generally the phase when the Pakistani establishment, buoyed by the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan (completed in February 1989) chose terror as an instrument of state policy against India, a replication of the Afghan strategy