Sportsmen strive to achieve longevity and do everything possible within their means to keep their professional life free from injuries and illnesses. Yet, not all succeed. Some succumb to the lure of not-so-legal means to achieve glory in their field while others fail to overcome an ungenerous fate despite possessing all the talent and skill-set. But there are a few sportsmen who do manage to accomplish their goal, achieving not just seniority but a near unsurpassable feat of excellence.
Sachin Tendulkar is one amongst these rare breed of sportsmen with a cricketing journey that has transpired not just over a near quarter of a century, but also across each format of the game. To watch him play thus is always exciting, for there never has been a moment in all these years when Sachin has failed to produce his quintessential magic.
Be it with the bat or with the ball or as a fielder watching the proceedings from afar on the ground, each role that Sachin has taken up, he has delivered his best. For quite some years now, he’s been the mentor for the younger generation, someone to whom each youngster looks up to. He gives advices as he comes up with suggestions that the person listening to him at the other end is only keen to carry out. When the team wins matches, all the lads are eager to give Tendulkar the lap of honour, around the ground, carrying him on their shoulders. It’s a mark of respect for the veritable giant of the cricketing world, one much deserved after all that the man has given to the sport, the nation and its people.
The mentoring, the expertise and the guiding light that Tendulkar represents to the contemporary cricketing generation is proof of the transition that the man has undergone as a cricketer, being on the job. Each match of his 24-year career has gone on to be a practical lesson that went on to further shape the cricketing acumen of the 40-year old.
Experiences, both good as well as bad, have given him the God-like status that he enjoys today. Like every other cricketer going through a bad patch, even Sachin had to struggle with the shortfall of runs after having enjoyed a spate of seasons with runs never ceasing to come out of his bat. But it was to Sachin’s credit that he got back into the top cricketing ranks by going back to the basics and tweaking his approach and methodology wherever it was falling short of the desired mark. His playing for Mumbai, in what would be his last first class game against Haryana at Lahli, too was a hallmark of Sachin’s determination to ensure thorough preparation for his upcoming, final test series.
These instances, when isolated, don’t matter much but it is only when looked at collectively that their significance begins to strike through. Throughout the course of his career, Tendulkar has never been one to stay complacent with his achievements and awards. On the contrary, he’s always been one to push himself to the hardest just to ensure that he never let the team down under any circumstance.
Adaptability is regarded to be the basic factor that allows for one’s continued existence in a heavily changing world. As far as the cricketing spectrum is concerned, in the modern era, there has been no one who has managed to adapt so well to the changing conditions as Sachin has. Be it the ODIs or be it the latterly developed T20s, Sachin Tendulkar was able to achieve absolute success in both formats even as many of his peers struggled to adjust and make the transition. His ability to gauge the situation, no matter what the game’s format, and suitably temper his playing style to the need of the hour has – and will be – a feat that can only be marvelled at.
The biggest loss to cricket, after Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement from the oldest form of the game, would be the absence of such adaptability. At a time, when several players choose one form of the game to another, in order to prolong their career; Sachin’s ability – at an advancing age – to play and do well across all major cricketing formats is a quality that can never be emulated by anyone. Tendulkar may have then started off his career with his inherent talent showing. But in the end, Tendulkar has gone on to prove that cricket is always greater than the cricketer, who only follows his heart’s passion wherever the game leads, and whatever form it takes.