West Indies in India 2013-14 November 3, 2013

Tendulkar mania grips Kolkata

A Tendulkar extravaganza has been planned at Eden Gardens through the Test and its build-up. It will be interesting to see how the man himself handles it all

"There is no Diwali festival. This is Sachin festival," says Biswarup Dey, the Cricket Association of Bengal treasurer. "This is officially 'Salute Sachin'." That, of course, is the name CAB has given to a week-long celebration of Sachin Tendulkar.

Nobody does the dramatic better than Kolkata. Next to Dey stands a man with a huge bouquet of flowers with "199" written on it. Dey himself holds a basket full of roses. He is waiting for Tendulkar to arrive in Kolkata, where he will start his final Test series, and his 199th Test. Soon the word spreads - about a 1000 people gather outside Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport to await Tendulkar's arrival. About a 100 of them must be the media.

Inside, across the glass partition, Dey and other officials wait as the flight has been delayed. Across the glass partition there is another concrete wall. From behind the wall, Tendulkar sees the crowd, knows the commotion his exit there will cause, and starts moving towards the other gate. A surreal scene ensues: Tendulkar is moving behind the wall, but the 1000-odd gathered run along with the invisible Tendulkar. After a huge chaos, Tendulkar finally - and safely - manages to get into his car to join his other team-mates who played the ODIs against Australia and have arrived from Bangalore.

This welcome, right here in Kolkata, is the official start of Tendulkar's farewell series. Wonder what Tendulkar makes of it. If he takes time out and explores the city, he is likely to find cut-outs of himself, big hoardings with different people's quotes on him - the one where Don Bradman says he saw a bit of himself in Tendulkar is the most common - and finally bigger cut-outs when he reaches Eden Gardens for practice on Monday.

Now all this might not come to pass - there is a Test match against West Indies to be played - but the plans in place are ambitious and elaborate. Today, the CAB president and the state sports minister launched a music album by Piloo Bhattacharya, which contains seven Bengali and four Hindi songs about Tendulkar. They will be played the moment Tendulkar enters Eden Gardens for practice. Waiting to greet him outside the team's dressing room is his life-size wax replica, crafted by a Bengali artist-cum-fan.

On Monday, a photo exhibition of 100 Tendulkar photos will be unveiled. The CAB had invited former Test captains Sunil Gavaskar and Sourav Ganguly to inaugurate this at Bhawanipore Club, but both are in Colombo on a charity walk. It hasn't deterred the plans. On match eve, the CAB plans to get BCCI president N Srinivasan to unveil the coin for the toss in the Test, with Tendulkar on one side, and Eden Gardens on the other. Wonder what heads and tails will be. The CAB is hoping Tendulkar will attend, and personally receive a silver banyan tree with gold leaves from the CAB. The groundsmen will gift him a replica of Eden Gardens.

Tendulkar's face has already been printed on the match tickets. "Never ever have we seen anybody's face on an Eden Test ticket," says Dey. There is something or the other planned for all five days of the Test. With the first day's ticket comes a souvenir - a book. More ambitiously, 70,000 Tendulkar masks are reportedly going to be handed out to the spectators. If the CAB can pull this off, it will be quite a sight.

On day two, every seat is expected to have a placard, and when all the placards are held up together it is set to form a huge Tendulkar face. Day three is likely to feature a release of 199 balloons with Tendulkar's face on them. Day four could bring the West Bengal chief minister to felicitate Tendulkar. This was supposed to be a mega event after the fifth day's play - with Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, who will be here for the Kolkata film festival, supposed to join the West Bengal chief minister - but the government is not so sure the match will last the five days. Advancing the event into the fourth day needs the ICC's clearance. On the fifth day, an aircraft is scheduled to hover over Eden Gardens and shower 199 kilos of rose petals.

It is going to be an interesting week to see how much of this actually materialises, and if it does how Tendulkar handles it all. He must already have enough on his mind with this being his last series.

The Sachin preparation

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rakesh on November 6, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    The artisit who created the wax statue is Sushanta Ray. Well done Sushanta. You did such an excellent job without spending hours with him taking his measurements like Madam Tussads. MT finally managed to do a lousy job.

  • Rakesh on November 6, 2013, 8:01 GMT

    The bengali artisit has done an excellent job with the wax statue. The experts at madame tussads seem like a kenyan team compared to the artist as Australia in prime. Kudos to the artist. Siddharth Monga should have taken pains to find his name. He deserves a mention.

  • arjun on November 6, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    @srinideva "we`re going to ruin a international series with lot of distractions in the field and showing the world that Indians love their hero more than the Team. It is also disrespecting the other players playing in this series." ---------------- How about you speak for yourself and not for others. Neither majority of the people complaining here about these so called distractions nor any player has complained about it. Also how a series which is going to watched by whole world and also with stadium full of people is ruined by all this. If not for Tendulkar you would have series played with more than half the stadium empty and outside of india almost nobody would have bothered by it.

  • Suren on November 6, 2013, 7:40 GMT


    Comments from Best West Indian batsmen including Lara himself. ""If there's any accolade I can place on him it's that, although everybody has their opinion about who is the best, but Sachin Tendulkar has definitely had the best cricket career out of any cricketer that I have known." - Lara "Sachin is a genius. I'm a mere mortal." - Lara "I didn't see Don but to me, in all my years associated with the game, I haven't seen a better batsman than Sachin Tendulkar" said Vivian Richards "If there is a better batsman than Sachin then he hasn't arrived yet." - Vivian Richards

    Talking about records(records only) ... Jacques Kallis with 44 test centuries is the only cricketer who has any kind of outside chance to equal or break Sachins record. And being a Sachin fan, I hope that will not be the case :).

  • Suren on November 6, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    PART-II Here are the statements of top two cricketers from Australia ... This should pretty much close the debate of Ricky vs Sachin. Donald Bradman: "I saw him [Sachin] playing on television and was struck by his technique, so I asked my wife to come look at him. Now I never saw myself play, but I feel that this player is playing much the same as I used to play, and she looked at him on television and said yes, there is a similarity between the two... his compactness, technique, stroke production... it all seemed to gel."

    Australian spin legend Shane Warne: "Sachin Tendulkar is, in my time, the best player without a doubt -- daylight second, Brian Lara third."

  • Suren on November 6, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    PART-I For all the debates on who is the greatest ... First let me be clear ... you should be a fool to compare batsmen of different eras. Next comes comparisons of Tendulkar with Lara and Ricky who are his contemporaries.

    For me a player is considered best if he masters/conquers his opposition in their own backyard. Because the conditions are different and alien to them.

    First Lets do Ricky ... on how well he did against India in India Ricky Ponting: Tests:( On flat Indian tracks against a mediocre Indian bowling ) - Averages 26.48 with with just one century

    Now lets see Tendulkar against Aussies in Australia ... which was considered to have the best fast bowling resources during his peak time. Tests:( In Australia on green/bouncy tracks ) - Averages 53.20 with 6 centuries scoring against the great Australian bowlers like McGrath, Hughes, Gillespie, Brett Lee & Shane Warne.

  • Amol on November 6, 2013, 5:53 GMT

    AFTER eliminating the number of tests Tendulkar played against ZIM and BNG, and then...AFTER subtracting the number of HOME tests, Tendulkar still played **95** AWAY tests which is almost DOUBLE the whole career of Bradman (who played only 19 away tests) and still Tendulkar excelled in his whole career. So...(without mincing words) ...Tendulkar is better than Bradman.

  • Dummy4 on November 6, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    @Al_Bundy1 Seriously??? are you a cricket follower for real??.. Check the world cup record book and stats to see what sachin had done for his country in world cups. Of-course you can't ask a man to play for an entire team on his behalf every time. And keep in mind that he did so on numerous occasions. A man worshiped not only for his talent but more than that his character.

  • Amol on November 6, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    Al Bundy: In the whole 1990s, for absolutely TEN years, before the arrival of Dravid, since 1989, Tendulkar was the ONLY player whose average was ABOVE 30.00 and was the only classy player in the other-wise rubbish 11-man team, who scored to keep his team alive in competitions. The only other guy who was a genius was Vinod Kambli, whose career was cut-short (due to some other unfortunate circumstances). The selectors who are wise enough NEVER forget this. SO...Tendulkar DOES deserve the long rope he was given.

  • Amol on November 6, 2013, 4:56 GMT

    Al Bundy: You are in wrong place. You should be watching sports like tennis, Swimming, shooting,...Where a single individual is able to bring glory to their country. You are watching the WRONG game and should NOT even be watching Football and cricket which are TEAM games because 1. you either believe...cricket is one-man game 2....or you believe Tendulkar should bat in every positions from 1 to 11, that is, he should come back to the crease every time after he gets out...and yes...he should not ...absolutely not...forget to keep wickets and bowl at the same time. That is what you want to say right ? Ha ha...May be you must have watched Gilchrist keep wickets and bowl simultaneously in the World Cup finals, did you by any chance ? :D :D