The retirement announcement

A titanic goodbye

For seekers of excellence like Tendulkar, accepting the march of time must be tougher than we can imagine
Sharda Ugra October 11, 2013

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.

Sachin Tendulkar takes a break at India's practice session, Hyderabad, August 22, 2012
Tendulkar's long-standing method to attack a problem: more practice, more hits, more nets, more training © AFP

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.

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Posted by Anita 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.

Posted by Anita 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

Posted by Jay 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)

Posted by Dummy4 on (October 12, 2013, 18:44 GMT)

well!there are only 2 things certain abt 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 was like a national uprising which he calmed..sachin can do anything....he made my cry many times gave me duble the laughs soon.....i fear this time..this nt gonna bring ane now is nothing for me...ive missed exams to watch him i dnt regret.....i juss wish human life span was 25 years..baring sachin


The man whom cricket loved back

Sambit Bal: Tendulkar was the biggest worshipper the game could ever find, and in that lay the foundation of his greatness

Tendulkar's perfect balance

Sharda Ugra: While the team, the country and the sport changed around him, Tendulkar remained constant

Why do we insist on seeing the 'real' Sachin?

Rahul Bose: You can ask as much as you want for a more "human", more "feelable, touchable" Sachin, but he'll probably not change - and that's a good thing

Zaltz Stats

The approximate number of people in India today who had not been born when Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut in 1989 (calculated from these figures). His batting has been so erotically outstanding that the global population has increased by almost 2 billion during his career, with the biggest increase, understandably, in India itself.

I have played cricket for 24 years, it has been only 24 hours since retirement, and I think I should get at least 24 days to relax before deciding these things.

Sachin Tendulkar doesn't want to think of what lies ahead just yet