A 16-year old Sachin Tendulkar (centre) with Kapil Dev (left) and Mohammad Azharuddin during his first tour of Pakistan in 1989 © Getty Images
By Aayush Puthran
“When Sachin Tendulkar travelled to Pakistan to face one of the finest bowling attacks ever assembled in cricket, Michael Schumacher was yet to race a F1 car, Lance Armstrong had never been to the Tour de France, Diego Maradona was still the captain of a world champion Argentina team, Pete Sampras had never on a Grand Slam. When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company, Roger Federer was name unheard of; Lionel Messi was in his nappies, Usain Bolt was an unknown kid in the Jamaican backwaters. The Berlin Wall was still intact, USSR was one big, big country, Dr Manmohan Singh was yet to “open” the Nehruvian economy. It seems while Time was having his toll on every individual on the face of this planet, he excused one man. Time stands frozen in front of Sachin Tendulkar. We have had champions, we have had legends, but we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will.”
— Time Magazine
There have not been far too many better tributes to the man and the beauty of his timelessness. Sachin Tendulkar has managed to cut through four different decades, gracing his game with mesmerizing strokeplay in each of it. In a career spanning nearly 24 years, Tendulkar saw countless cricketers rise and fade away, some wasting their talent and some achieving glory.
It was not merely about dealing with the rigours of hectic international schedule over these years, but also the challenge acclimatising oneself with the changing demands of the game, in a way that is dominant.
Here is a list of cricketers who played along with the Little Master on his debut against Pakistan at Karachi in 1989 and where they stand on the day of his retirement.
Krishnamachari Srikkanth (Last international match played: 1992)
After retiring from international cricket in early 1992, Srikkanth took over as the India A coach for a brief period. After an unfruitful time with the team, he moved over to broadcast commentary. He had a longer and a more successful period as a commentator, before putting down the mike in 2008 when he was appointed the Brand Ambassador of the Chennai Super Kings. However, within a few months, he was elected as the Chairman of selectors of the Indian national team. Under his tenure as the selector, India underwent the transition period. The first of which included the retirement of Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble. Soon, the team reached the pinnacle of Test rankings and lifted the 2011 ICC World Cup. However, disastrous tours of England and Australia were the low points of his stint. The year 2012 also saw the retirements of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman from international cricket and Tendulkar from One-Day Internationals. In 2013, he was appointed the Brand Ambassador of the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Navjot Singh Sidhu (Last international match played: 1999)
The man from Patiala has had an interesting a career post retirement as he did while playing. Unlike most cricketers, his popularity soared in the Indian household after bidding farewell to the game in 1999. A shy and reserved person during his playing days, Sidhu took to commentary like fish to water. His interesting and unique turn of phrases, which later came to be known as ‘Sidhuism’, caught the imagination of the cricket audience and delighted his co-commentators with some good company. In 2005, he judged a stand-up comedy show, where his unique approach became a fad in the subsequent comedy shows in the country. He also acted in a couple of movies and joined the reality show Big Boss, apart from working as a cricket analyst in a couple of news channels.
A Member of Parliament with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Sidhu won the general elections in 2004 and 2009.
Sanjay Manjrekar (Last international match played: 1996)
Manjrekar played his last Test match in 1996 at the age of 31. After retiring from First-Class cricket in 1998, he became a commentator. Widely regarded as one of the finest speakers of the game in the country currently, Manjrekar is known for his analytical study of the game and unbiased views on the cricket.
Mohammad Azharuddin (Last international match played: 2000)
One of the finest cricketers produced in the country, Azharuddin had an uneventful exit from cricket. Embroiled in the match-fixing saga that erupted in 2000, he was banned by the board after playing 99 Tests and holding the record of leading India in most number of matches. However, he was later acquitted of the charges by Andhra Pradesh High Court, but it came 12 years after the ban had stalled his final days in cricket.
He joined the Indian National Congress in 2009 and contested elections from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh in 2009, where he won by a margin of over 50,000 votes.
Manoj Prabhakar (Last international match played: 1996)
Prabhakar has been part of far too many controversies post retirement for his liking. After accusing Azharuddin for his involvement in fixing, he was himself trapped and charged for his involvement in it. For his involvement in the match-fixing scandal that broke out in 2000, Prabhakar was banned from international cricket.
He joined BJP and unsuccessfully contested in the 2004 elections.
He came back to cricket and became the coach of Delhi and Rajasthan Ranji teams. He was sacked as the Delhi coach in November 2011 after he criticised the management openly in the media.
Ravi Shastri (Last international match played: 1992)
Shastri has enjoyed an eventful run as a commentator since his retirement from cricket in 1995. His command over the microphone has been one of the best in the last two decades. Currently, he is one of the most famous commentators in the country. Other than that, he had a brief spell as the coaching manager of the Indian cricket team in 2007 and served the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the BCCI in various capacities.
Apart from cricket, he had also collaborated to run a celebrity management company in 2003.
Kapil Dev (Last international match played: 1994)
Kapil Dev’s iconic status remained despite his retirement. He took up golf after retirement in 1994. He returned to cricket in 1999 and took over as the coach of India. Yet in partnership with Tendulkar, the captain, India underwent one of their lowest phases in the game. They suffered heavy defeats against Australia and South Africa.
However, things turned ugly when his name was involved in the match-fixing scandal that broke out. However, he was exonerated of it immediately.
He became the bowling consultant of the Indian team ahead of India’s historic tour of Pakistan in 2004. In 2006 he was nominated as the chairman of the National Cricket Academy (NCA). Kapil also played a small role in the movie Iqbal.
However, things turned sour with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) after he joined the board of the Indian Cricket League (ICL). “We are not looking to create a rival team but helping the Indian board to find more talent,” he had said. However, BCCI in all its high-handedness banned him from the board, revoked his pension and removed him as the chairman of the NCA. But in July 2012, Kapil joined hands with BCCI. With the renewed ties, he stood a chance of receiving his 1.5 crore as one-time benefit and his pensions.
Apart from running an NGO, he has also written three autobiographies.
Kiran More (Last international match played: 1993)
After retirement, More started the Kiran More-Alembic Cricket Academy in 1997. He later worked in Bangladesh, Kenya and Uganda as the wicketkeeping coach for the ICC Development Program. In 2003, he became the Chairman of national selectors. It was during this period that things turned sour between Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell which eventually led to the axing of the former. More made his opinion on youth policy clear during his tenure. In 2006, he was appointed an Executive Director of the ICL.
Arshad Ayub (Last international match played: 1990)
Currently serving as the head of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA), Ayub was also the manager of the Indian cricket team during the tour to Bangladesh in 2004. He also started the Arshad Ayub Cricket Academy to train players from the Under-14 level.
Salil Ankola (Last international match played: 1997)
Salil Ankola’s career as a cricketer didn’t take off the way it should have. However, he became a more popular figure as an actor. After making his debut with the movie debut with Kurukshetra in 2000, he has gone on to act in innumerable movie and television soaps.
He also had a brief spell in the television reality show Big Boss before legal issues resulted in him leaving the show early.
Rameez Raja (Last international match played: 1997)
The former Pakistan skipper has become a popular cricket commentator post retirement. Raja served a brief spell as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief, before giving up the post in August 2004 citing media commitments.
Javed Miandad (Last international match played: 1996)
Following retirement, Miandad served as the coach and batting consultant of Pakistan many times. Under him as the coach, Pakistan won the Asian Test Championship and beat India in 1998. He was also offered coaching and broadcast roles in India.
Saleem Malik (Last international match played: 1999)
Malik’s career too was been hampered by the match-fixing scandal. In May 2000, he became the first cricketer to be banned for match-fixing. In 2008, a local court in Pakistan lifted the ban imposed on him by the PCB. However, he is yet to find a position in the board or in the team. He had applied for the post of Pakistan’s batting coach in 2012, but wasn’t selected.
He has started a cricket academy in Lahore and continues to do business with his long-time partner Hamza Yusuf.
Imran Khan (Last international match played: 1992)
Following a dream retirement after lifting the 1992 Benson and Hedges World Cup, Imran joined politics. In 1996, Tehreeh-e-Insaaf party was established and Imran became its chairman. He was a member of the National Assembly from 2002 to 2007 and was elected again in 2013. He was a popular leader among the masses and it showed as Global Post mentioned him third in a list of nine world leaders of 2012 and recognised him as the face of the anti-drone movement in the country. In Asia Society‘s survey, Khan was voted as Asia’s Person of the Year 2012.
He has also written as a columnist for various top international newspapers and magazines. He has also spoken as an expert on television shows following his retirement.
Wasim Akram (Last international match played: 2003)
Following his retirement, Akram has mainly worked as a commentator. He has also coached the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) apart from working as bowling consultants in various brief spells for Pakistan over the years.
He has also walked the ramp at the Pantene Bridal Couture Week 2011.
Abdul Qadir (Last international match played: 1993)
Qadir remained out of attention for a long time following his retirement. However, in 2008, he was appointed as the Chief selector of the Pakistan national team. However, his tenure wasn’t to be at the right time as Mumbai attacks of 26/11 and attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 resulted in a lot of tour cancellations. Qadir quit from the post in July 2009 without explaining the reason.
Waqar Younis (Last international match played: 2003)
Waqar worked as a commentator for a short period after retiring from the game in 2003. However, since 2006, he has coached the Pakistan national team on and off. He was the coach of the team when Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were caught for spot-fixing. In 2013, he joined the Sunrisers Hyderabad as the bowling coach.
To note that Waqar and Wasim are the last two players to retire from international cricket from either of the teams is staggering because that leaves a gap of 10 and half years between them and Tendulkar. While Akram made his debut in 1985, Waqar played his first game in the same match as Tendulkar did. While Waqar was a legend when he bid farewell in 2003, one wonders how to phrase the Little Master’s achievement after how he continued to dominate bowling world over for another decade.
His longevity in the game has been a phenomenon of extreme class and dominance, one that made people fall in love with the game and it take up as their ultimate childhood love. As I had said earlier, his longevity in the game can’t be serendipity, nor can it be the bookings of crass wisdom working on predictions as he pads up for his 200th Test- his last.
What is also interesting to note, is the fact that Tendulkar has also played in the third format — Twenty20. In 96 T20s, he has scored 2,797 runs at an average of 32,90 and a strike-rate of 121.08. None of the others players playing that match have played a competitive T20 game.
To call it either, would be degrading to the man and his efforts. Tendulkar’s career is a testimony to the beauty of timelessness, one that has withstood the change of world order and 22 years thereafter, even as cricket lovers flipped to the back pages of their newspapers to look at a familiar face and in no time realised that they were 24 years older. He has swayed through the changing of times with a child-like zest and acclimatised himself with the needs seamlessly.
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)