Staff picks November 16, 2013

Watching Tendulkar say goodbye

ESPNcricinfo's India staff, on how it felt to watch Sachin Tendulkar bid farewell to the game

'In a nation increasingly unsure of how to wield its growing power, in every walk of life, he has shown the way' © BCCI

That old sinking feeling
Shiva Jayaraman: I had almost forgotten the terrible knot in the stomach that, as an India fan in the '90s, one experienced on seeing Sachin walk back to the pavilion. All was lost when he got out; one might have as well switched the TV off. Well, almost. It all came back today, watching him walk back to the pavilion. By the time he had finished his speech, the knot had tightened and there was also a lump in my throat. Strangely, it felt nice to have that sinking feeling again - for one last time.
Shiva Jayaraman is sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo

The rumble that wouldn't stop
Alagappan Muthu: I've heard it for as long as I've been alive. I've contributed to it many times - from home, at the ground and a few times right in the middle of the road - and when Sachin Tendulkar picked out that effortless chant as one of his most lasting memories, the Wankhede, understandably, rumbled. And it did not stop. "Sachin, Sachin," he said, and "Sachiiin, Sachin," they roared back. The farewell speech was forced to a grinding halt. They did not want him to go. I did not want him to go. The emotion one man brought out in us - a stranger, by all logic, who somehow became an indispensable part of our lives - will be my lasting memory.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Goodbye, childhood
Anuj Vignesh: Amid all the Sachin Tendulkar-related jokes, anecdotes and trivia being passed around, one that resonates really well with me is: "Somewhere between the time Tendulkar picked up and put down the bat, lies my entire childhood." So despite his farewell speech being so beautifully orated, and so beautifully timed, I will not be listening to it again anytime soon. Being a kid of the '90s, those few seconds when you waited to hear from the only (rich) kid with a transistor in school if Tendulkar had got out or not, were the most torturous of your life. But listening to Tendulkar speak today was far worse than anything any of us had ever experienced. Because every word uttered by him, which reminded us that he would not be returning to the pitch again, was a fatal stab into our childhood. A glorious, memorable childhood.
Anuj Vignesh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Pitch-perfect ending
Devashish Fuloria: All through the final day, there was not one single quiet moment for him. When he walked down the stairs of the pavilion, there was noise; when he moved around in the field, camera flashes could be seen; when he was given a guard of honour, everyone was up on their feet; when he spoke his heart out, every word was cheered on. All you could hear was irksome noise and even though I wanted to experience the emotion, I wasn't feeling the connect. Then, just when everyone got over the emotional outpouring, he quietly broke the security circle around him, walked towards the centre, alone. Alone among the crowds, he bent down and paid his last respects to the pitch that nurtured him. That, for me, was the perfect ending.
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Inexplicable, unadulterated joy
Nikita Bastian: How do you say goodbye to someone who has been playing the game you love, with skill and dignity, ever since you were a toddler? I've watched Sachin Tendulkar celebrate and be celebrated at the Wankhede Stadium these past few days, watched him get emotional and the fans respond in kind, listened to that moving speech. But I'm no closer to answering that question. What I do take away with me from this final Test is what got me hooked on to cricket in the first place: joy. The inexplicable, unadulterated joy that comes from seeing a boundary hit, a wicket taken, a match won. The joy that had become a bit jaded by on- and off-field controversies of late. Seeing Sachin Tendulkar raise his arms in warm acknowledgement of the crowd, seeing him touch the pitch and hold his hand to his heart, wiping his eyes at having to say goodbye to the game, I couldn't help but be reminded of how much I love it, despite its weaknesses. Watching Sachin Tendulkar at the Wankhede just made me happy. As a banner at the ground read, goodbye Sachin, and thanks for all the memories.
Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

We were lifted
Sharda Ugra: A hastily tacked-on series following a tantrum over the tour to South Africa; an opposition that offered no sightings of a contest; a build-up that cashed in on every ancillary arm of the Tendulkar industry; shiny celebrities and gleaming politicians in the best of seats. Yet, at the end of it all we could, like the song says, be lifted. By Tendulkar's batting and by his words of farewell. The strokes belonged to mind-body-memory, the words came from a generosity of spirit, with the acknowledgement of the many shoulders that had helped him rise above the giants of the game. Through deed and word, Tendulkar spread his arms wide open and drew the world into his embrace. The last quiet, solitary gesture of benediction in the middle, hands to pitch, then palms to heart. This, the centre of his universe. Through it, he a central part of ours. The guff had vanished and we were lifted.
Sharda Ugra is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Now I'm all grown up
Nishi Narayanan: I was never a Sachin fan, never an India fan - not in the way you're supposed to be. And the farewell mania over the last month, cringe-inducing rather than sentimental, made me feel angry with everything in Indian cricket. But when Ravi Shastri yielded the stage to Tendulkar, I watched. He spoke simply, as if at a small family get-together. The few jokes, going by the crowd's reaction, fell flat, but then humour can rarely get in the way of sincerity. As he thanked everyone in his life, I was surprised by the incredible sadness I felt. But I shouldn't be surprised. Whether I like it or not, as a cricket fan, I am a product of the Tendulkar era. Now he's gone and I'm all grown up.
Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Dignity and humility
Jayaditya Gupta: I'd always appreciated Tendulkar as a unifying figure in these increasingly divisive and fractious times for our country. Today he showed two other much-needed qualities in our public life - dignity and humility. He demonstrated that you can let your work speak for you without shouting about it. In a nation increasingly unsure of how to wield its growing power, in every walk of life, he has shown the way.
Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor at ESPNcricinfo

It's yet to sink in
Amol Karhadkar: Most of the things that he spoke about during his farewell speech had been either read or heard by us at some point. Still, one never felt like moving an inch away from the screen as he spoke one last time in whites at a cricket ground. He delivered a speech that was a mix of the prepared and the extempore. And as he spoke for almost 20 minutes, while the Wankhede stands cheered every bit of it, one was speechless. The heart was not willing to accept that one would never again see him in action on the field. It still hasn't sunk in. Some feelings never do. Some voids can never be filled again. Sachin Tendulkar's retirement is one such void.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

His human side
Rohan Sharma: When Tendulkar took the microphone to address the Wankhede one last time, it all began to sink in. The noise built to a crescendo as he kept his head down, trying his level best to keep his composure in such an emotional cauldron. The adoration of the Mumbai faithful had him break his speech at certain points in order to regroup and steady himself. I had never seen him like this, and the humanness of it all endeared me further to a man whose very essence was the stuff of legend.
Rohan Sharma is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo