The retirement announcement October 11, 2013

A titanic goodbye

For seekers of excellence like Tendulkar, accepting the march of time must be tougher than we can imagine
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It is well past midnight. It has been more than ten hours since Sachin Tendulkar announced his intention to retire following his 200th Test next month. ESPNcricinfo has gone into what can only be called its tsunami mode. Its forces have gathered, scattered out emails, made dozens of phone calls, scoured through the archive, and presented you, the beloved reader, with a Himalayan range of words, pictures and numbers to mull over. Every arm of social media has been shaken. We've been through more than 90 minutes of talk about Tendulkar for our video features and material is still coming in.

Along with other cricketers, writers and cricketer-writers, ESPNcricinfo staff - a clear-eyed, hard-nosed, pragmatic bunch - have sent in accounts of their favourite Tendulkar memory. It is these accounts from my colleagues that I have found most revealing and reflective of the day we're having. Those reflections have come from a place we must necessarily turn away from whenever on professional duty. Today, though, it was as if the news of Tendulkar has set us free - in heart, mind, and memory.

In the time Tendulkar has played for India, we've all grown up, grown old, but never grown apart from cricket. Maybe it was him, maybe it was his time. Maybe we're just a bunch of sentimental fogeys between the ages of 20 and infinity. Throughout his career, Tendulkar has kept reaffirming the faith and belief that no matter what, there was much in cricket that could be uplifting, exceptional, clean.

News of his impending retirement was not unexpected - over the last 18 months much has unravelled around Tendulkar at a somewhat dismaying speed. In the context of an unrelenting 24-year career, however, what is remarkable is that the tailspin did not take place earlier.

To many, our 40s are when we finally secure our place in the world and find the discipline needed to keep middle-aged maladies at bay. To cricketers it is the time the mind becomes quicksilver sharp to the game's demands, but the body falls half a step behind. For driven, competitive creatures like Tendulkar, who are seekers and finders of sustained excellence, accepting the march of time must be tougher than we can imagine.

As Tendulkar's batting has dipped and his struggles have mounted, we have wrung our hands in misery and helplessness. Our worries have been about "legacy" and "timing" and "appropriateness", our anxiety centred around the notion of a Tendulkar "legend".

Tendulkar had made up his mind, he had bitten the bullet. It was done, and maybe like us he feels free too. Now it means we, like thousands of others, don't have to worry about him and for him anymore

We've probably got it all wrong. To Tendulkar, perhaps the legend or the idea of legacy does not exist. All that existed was a fresh set of difficulties, to which he responded with the only method he had ever practised: by looking for yet another new route to adapt to a rapidly changing inner dynamic. He flung himself at the problem, like he always had with other problems - more practice, more hits, more nets, more training. It was his way of rattling the gates of the cricketing gods, and it had always worked.

When the announcement came, the first response was a tumult, a cascade. Tendulkar had made up his mind, he had bitten the bullet. It was done, and maybe like us he feels free too. Now it means we, like thousands of others, don't have to worry about him and for him anymore.

Then his career flashed past in the mind's eye and all of us found ourselves in it. It contained the past 24 years of our own lives, tagged on somewhere as we watched, applauded, cursed, celebrated, whirling around in suspense, joy, mortification, gratitude. As this was on, India played Australia in a T20 international in Rajkot, an old titan signalling the moment to say goodbye, as a new game moved on at its own clip.

In ESPNcricinfo's offices, we've kept working with the left brain and right brain tussling throughout. Following this news, there is one last issue to be resolved but it's not one you need to deal with right now. There's at least a month left to go before we must work out what to fill into the Tendulkar-sized hole that will be left in our game.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • CriciSach on October 14, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    The Sachin effect lingers,even when the Master is not ard. Such is the effect of Sachin. If this the effect in ODIs, how will tests even survive? Try hard as I might, I, like billions of Indians can't wean myself away from the Sachin effect.I suddenly realize that I am one of those unpatriotic Indians who couldn't care if India wins or loses,coz Sachin will play no part in those matches.But I revel in the knowledge that there are billions like me.For 24 yrs I tht Sachin and India were synonymous on the cricket field.Thought it was India's victory combined with Sachin's batting that got me going.But today I realize,tht the victory was just a by product.It was Ind's victory becoz of Sachin batting that got me going.Take Sachin out and the victory is tasteless.I guess like billions of Indians,I had always spelt INDIA as "SACHIN".so now when i see INDIA spelt as INDIA,I am struggling to read it.

  • CriciSach on October 14, 2013, 7:04 GMT

    The Legend bows out from ODI.I tell myself that Cricket,henceforth,wld be a mere game, not the all consuming passion it once was."But Cricket doesn't stop if Sachin goes",says my 10 yr old & I hope he is right.I continue watching ODIs,more so as a habit.Ind Pak 1st ODI,Ind 5/29,Dhoni doing a Sachin,saves Ind the blushes,I'm relieved,but feel no pride or passion.India win the Champions Trophy,I'm happy,but not jumping for joy.Something's lost forever,but I can't get it.IndAus1st ODI.I tell myself that I want the passion back.I want to connect to a player,so whn Kohli walks in,I want myself to want him to do well.Master of big chases-Kohli's role is crucial,so I feign happiness whn he reaches his 50.But I am hardly perturbed whn he gets out!damn,the whole thing is not working.It cldn't as much as touch the emotional chords leave alone stir it.Dhoni goes,India loses,but I feel like its just another day at work. I am unruffled.Like billions of others,I experience the Sachin effect Contd

  • jay57870 on October 14, 2013, 1:53 GMT

    The Little Master calls it a day! The only life he's known since he was an 11-year old: Cricket! He completes the journey of his dreams in a way only he can: MY WAY!!

    And now, the end is here / And so I face the final curtain / My friend, I'll say it clear / I'll state my case, of which I'm certain / I've lived a life that's full / I traveled each and every highway / And more, much more than this, I did it my way!

    Regrets, I've had a few / But then again, too few to mention / I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption / I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway / And more, much more than this, I did it my way

    For what is a man, what has he got? / If not himself, then he has naught / To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels / The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

    Yes, it was my way!

    (Courtesy: Frank Sinatra's immortal anthemic song "MY WAY" - select verses)

  • dummy4fb on October 12, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    well!there are only 2 things certain abt life....one is death..the other is sachin giving u a smile...everytime i watched him play...there was sumthing which made me forget all sorrows...tentions..priorities...a 180 degree straight drive..a fierce square cut...i mean...everything abt him was so so diffrent...tendulkar makes u positive abt life...i remember going to my neighbours house to watch sachin bat...and as if sachin knew...he never dissapointed me...for all these years...he cud do somthing which noone else cud ever do....i watchd him first when i was 6 in 1994..he cud hit the best ball to the boundary...the 98 versus pak in centurion...it was like a national uprising which he calmed..sachin can do anything....he made my cry many times too...bt gave me duble the laughs soon.....i fear this time..this goodbye....is nt gonna bring ane joy....cricket now is nothing for me...ive missed exams to watch him bat..bt i dnt regret.....i juss wish human life span was 25 years..baring sachin

  • JatinGoel on October 12, 2013, 18:35 GMT

    Well, another of MY Tendulkar moment, again from a Hostel Commonroom

    It was 1998 and i was in 10+2. It was a India-Pak match, a tournament final at that (Independence Cup). On hand was a chase of 315, which had never been chased b4.

    SRT, opening, started hitting Pak pacers all over the park. Nowhere to go, Pak summoned Saqlain-having a reputation to get SRT, so as to create pressure.

    A friend sitting besides me feared that SRT will now be cautious and slow down. Tacticaly he had a point, but I said my gut feeling says that SRT will hit him first ball for a 6. SRT obliged, got out of the crease first ball, and hit Saqlain for a 6.The commonroom erupted and my friend hugged me

    That was SRT in his prime - destroying opposition bowlers and captains in the mind and instilling belief in teammates and fans that every match can be won. That a humble Kanitkar hit the feared Saqlain for a 4 off the penultimate ball to seal the victory, was no coincidence.

    Thanks for making us believe, SRT

  • dummy4fb on October 12, 2013, 14:01 GMT

    No words to express the emotion, this moment had to come. They say all good things come to an end.There`s a beginning and end to everything good and bad, just like life. I regret the good things coming to an end, because they are enjoyable.The joy that I felt when you scored big, the despair I felt when you were dismissed cheaply. Now I don't have to worry about your scores. Certainly for me, cricket will never be the same without SRT. For me, SRT was the cricket. I remember Great Andy Flower's quote "There are Two kind of batsmen in the world. One Sachin Tendulkar. Two all the others" now there will be only one kind of batsman.Thank you Sachin for providing all the happiness in the last 24 years. Thank YOU!

  • android_user on October 12, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    Sachin is surely a undisputed champion, legend and to most of the cricket fans, he is the ultimate "GOD". But , with age definitely not on his side, I guess it is the time for him to retire and give the indian team a chance to find a new sachin among our young cricketers. And yes, we should believe this-EVEN GOD HAS RETIREMENT.

  • espncricinfomobile on October 12, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    Sachin may be the god , but rahul dravid is god of gods ...a big thumbs up ?? fr the ultimate legend RAHUL DRAVID

  • dummy4fb on October 12, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    Well my best Tendulkar moment came in 5th semester of my engineering life. I was down and out with Chicken Pox for two days and had suffered maximum a day before. Also my 4th sem result was expected anytime in the night, and I hadn't done very well in last exams.Nobody was in Hostel except a friend, as Holi Holidays were on.In short I was in complete mess. In came the result in the result in the morning. I passed with Flying colors. And Tendulkar like he was celebrating his fan's victory went berserk upon New Zealand bowlers. He was hitting like never before, and I enjoyed every moment of it from my room in my bed which was adjacent to the common room. He made 163, 200 was all in vicinity, but he had go out retired hurt due to cramps. My pain was all gone, from that very moment I had started feeling better and the chicken pox went away in a day or two. Sachin's magic has once again worked upon me.That very day I also got an initution that he can Make 200 and he did it very next year.