By Aiden Blizzard
In 1999-2000, the Indian team travelled to Australia for a Test series and that was the first time I watched Sachin Tendulkar bat. It was during the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) that I had the opportunity to watch him bat live for the first time. I remember it was Brett Lee’s Test debut and Sachin had smashed 116 in the first innings and 52 in the second. Although he was up against some of the fastest bowlers in the world, the time he had to play his shots was simply amazing. That is something I remember from that game.
Growing up in Australia, Sachin was Indian cricket for me. He was to Indian cricket what Shane Warne was to Australia and Brian Lara was for the West Indies. He made international cricket look so easy!
During the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2011, I was picked by the Mumbai Indians and I met Sachin at the hotel before the season. It was a few days after India had won the 2011 World Cup. He was well-spoken and extremely humble when he introduced himself. It was just like what I had seen during television interviews or in the middle. He is an absolute gentleman.
I then opened the batting with Sachin for Mumbai. As we walked from the dressing room to the centre, the roar at the Wankhede Stadium was deafening. It is something a story cannot do justice to. I’m certain most Mumbai Indian fans are short of breath after cheering him out to the middle.
Sachin is a giver. There is one incident that I will always remember. I recall picking up one of his bats on a tour and expressing how much I loved its shape, but its weight was too heavy for me. A week later, Sachin got two similar bats from his house. The only difference was that they were lighter, so that I could have them. It was something I never expected or had asked for and this wasn’t an isolated event. Sachin is always helping others around in the Mumbai Indians family wherever he could.
A true icon of world cricket has bid goodbye to the game.
— As told to Nishad Pai Vaidya
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(Aiden Blizzard is a left-handed batsman who plays for Tasmania in Australian domestic cricket. An attacking strokemaker, he has played T20s for Mumbai Indians, Adelaide Strikers, Hobart Hurricanes and Rajshahi Division. Off the field, Blizzard is a life coach)