West Indies in India 2013-14 November 6, 2013

Tendulkar gets his game face on for the final lap

Despite all the festive chaos in Kolkata, Sachin Tendulkar has kept his customary focus coming into his final ten days of cricket

At the end of batting in the nets on Tuesday morning, which had lasted 20 minutes, Sachin Tendulkar walked and stood ten yards away from the team's training. The helmet was still on. The gloves were off. The bat leaned against his right leg, below his hip, as he crossed his left leg. He stared nowhere in particular. A few moments later he practised the bat swing (without the bat) with his left hand. Then he took a proper stance and started tilting his head forward and backwards, as if he was ready to face a delivery. Then, once again he stood still. The bat was now under his left hip while his right foot crossed across the other leg. Tendulkar stared into the distance.

Tendulkar has just ten days of cricket left to play in his life. As he stood there in the middle of an empty Eden Gardens, he was left alone to ponder. In the cacophony surrounding his dip in form, he always maintained that he would depart when he was ready. He is, presumably, now ready.

Tendulkar's message after he finished 20 years in cricket was to never be afraid to chase dreams. The result is not his motive, if you understand Tendulkar. He once explained that as a captain all he expected from his players was 100% commitment. It did not matter if some dreams remained unfulfilled.

And, perhaps surprisingly given all he has achieved, even Tendulkar has some unfulfilled dreams. On the eve of the historic Lord's Test in 2011 (the 2000th Test), on his final visit to England, Tendulkar devoted himself to extensive net sessions at the Nursery ground, separate from the team training sessions. Tendulkar never had a century at Lord's but his aim in the nets was to make sure he was trying to negate all the doubts in his mind concerning the damp conditions as well as the seam movement. In the end he left Lord's without managing to engrave his name on the Honours' Board.

It was a period when Tendulkar was failing to notch his hundredth international century. Later that year when, on his home ground in Mumbai against West Indies, six runs short of the landmark, slightly desperate, he would steer into the hands of Darren Sammy. As he walked back dejected, he stared at the bat face as if to say: why did you deceive me.

The next ten days of cricket will doubtless contain other dreams and targets. He would surely like to go out on a high; more than a century or a fifty, what he'd most want is a team victory. MS Dhoni, speaking to the Telegraph said that the team would do their best and Tendulkar would have to play his part.

An established Tendulkar trait is to cut himself off from everything, to keep his focus solely on the game. In Kolkata you already see that happening. He has switched off his mobile phone, politely requested friends to not bother him during his preparations. It has been three days since he landed in Kolkata but Tendulkar has shunned all attention.

One of Tendulkar's biggest strengths has been to live in the moment. In a week when two young men, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma - earmarked to inherit his No.4 position in the Test team - captured the headlines, Tendulkar would have only been happy that he is passing on the baton at the right moment.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Naresh on November 11, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    Latest article by Warne. Well put WARNE from one great player to another. Stats will be there and Sachin did not play for stats they came along his great career. Warne also gave an example of Sachin played in all conditions and all countries - it was not only India he mentioned the 241 in Oz and the 155 in India. There were many great innings but for me his ODI WC in 2003 will be remembered. He was in awesome form then and topped batting stats his disappointment would have been that India finished second to Oz then. Years later his dream came true when India won the WC in India.

  • Bingo on November 7, 2013, 15:24 GMT

    @cccrider Oh! Phooey to Laver and the heck with Lords! The Brits may have invented the darn game but they just don't own it anymore. Ask BCCI! Really, we stopped measuring good Australian cricketers to inane , archaic British Standards a long time ago. I say it is the British and Lords Cricket Ground that will rue the fact that the Great SRT did not have his name carved in their totem pole. Imagine, some 50-70 years from now, some cricket player or aficionado might look up the list and wonder "Eh? No SRT? Must be of no consequence if he did not bother to play here.." Point being, Cricket shall be played post Tendulkar as it was played post the Don. But will it be the same damn game?

  • David on November 7, 2013, 5:14 GMT

    @ Gurunath Mallapragada . What a fuss about a club exhibition match - and an ODI at that! Nagraj Gollapudi refers to the 2000th test - not some exhibition ODI, which does not get the player his name on the honours board! The context was a test match, a cricket international.

    Hundreds of batsmen have made centuries at Lords in club matches. It is after all the home field of the Marylebone Cricket Club. Those players do not get their names on the honours board, because it his not that big a deal. The writer's context was Satchin's unfulfilled dream of his name on the honours board, NOT Satchin's fulfilled dream of a century at Lords in a club ODI.

    Cricinfo - if Gurunath Mallapragada's posting of links to club match scorecards & reports is featured, perhaps you should feature a comment that gives some perspective to that "Lords Century." And please note the match was titled the "Princess of Wales Memorial Match," not the "Diane Memorial Match." After all, her name was Diana, not Diane!

  • Harsh on November 7, 2013, 2:18 GMT

    Such an undercooked article, tries in vain to raise some excitement about the sad event of Sachin's retirement. None of the anecdotes mentioned make any sense.

  • Mallik on November 7, 2013, 1:32 GMT

    Like others have noted, people are crazy about Tendulkar not for all the runs and records he has now. Not for all the wins he contributed. People criticize him for not contributing when it matters and all that. I am not going to debate whether that is warranted. He is still the most loved cricketer in India because of the confidence and hope he brought to the entire country. A 16 year old Tendulkar infected India with his belief, courage and enthusiasm and brought about cricket frenzy in an already cricket crazy country, and provided hope that India could win matches and win them consistently. If you did not watch Tendulkar play in the 90's, you would never understand why this country is still mad about him. The entire country associated with Sachin on a personal level and felt he was a part of them. Yes, that's what he is: he is an infection that the country hoped it would never be cured of.

  • Dummy4 on November 6, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    tendulkar don't need to put his name on lords. tendulkar name shine every where he goes. tendulkar is greatest cricketer ever born and he will live in hearts of billions of people because of his personality and genius.

  • Dummy4 on November 6, 2013, 19:54 GMT

    The Diane Memorial match where Sachin made century at lords -

    Scorecard: http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1998/ENG_LOCAL/OTHERS/DIANA/MCC_R-O-W_DIANA_18JUL1998.html

    Match report: http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1998/ENG_LOCAL/OTHERS/DIANA/MCC_R-O-W_DIANA_18JUL1998_ET_MR.html

  • Android on November 6, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    The greatness of SRT is not in his records, his longevity or that he is probably someone whose records at least cumulatively will be impossibkebto overhaul; it is in his persona; in his humility; in his dignity; in his child-like enthusiasm for the game; in his impeccable pubkic life; in his being a remarkable role mkdel for the world's young people; in his quiet philanthrophy; in his commitment to the game and his country! I would think that in a world bereft of real life stars, trade all those records and stats for a human being like Sachin Tendulkar..Amen.

  • Dummy4 on November 6, 2013, 12:56 GMT

    #Tendulkar Go buddy.. Go... Atleast for some time.. Live somewhere, where there are no stares for you.. Live some where you can unleash common man in you, which was taken away from you from the age of 16.. Play with kids.. Chat with people who ask 'Cricket.. I heard it is a popular game. Do you know about it?'.. Have fun again.. Your family deserves it.. You deserves it..

  • Android on November 6, 2013, 12:23 GMT

    to the author: sachin do have a century at Lord's, albeit a very memorable one. But it did not come in a international test or odi. Bur it was one of the deadliest innings coming from the master's bat. the best bowlers of thst time were taken into pieces, including the great McGrath and our own Anil Kumble! the Diana memoria match is remembered for this.

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