New Delhi: Oct 10, 2013
There was an eerie sense of emptiness even as cricketers, past and present, today (on Thursday) paid rich tributes to Sachin Tendulkar as he decided to call time on his illustrious career after playing in his landmark 200th Test next month.
Tributes poured in from across the cricketing world, complementing the batting legend for giving fans many, many cheerful moments.
“It has left such a big hole to fill in the Indian Test batting line-up. It wouldn’t be easy to replace him. See what happened after [VVS] Laxman, [Sourav] Ganguly and [Rahul] Dravid retired, it would take time for the middle-order to gel,” said former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar.
“Number four position in Indian cricket has been with some of the greats. Whoever bats at number four, he is going to be under a lot of pressure and will have to live upto huge expectations,” added Gavaskar.
Tendulkar, regarded as the greatest batsman in contemporary cricket, called it quits from Test cricket after the West Indies series, bringing the curtains down on an extraordinary career spanning a marathon 24 years.
Gavaskar said he was convinced that Tendulkar would achieve greatness when he first saw him bat in the nets.
“It is hard to imagine any player in the history of the game who combines classical technique with raw aggression like the little champion does. There is not a single shot he cannot play,” he said.
Another former India captain and Tendulkar’s long-time teammate, Sourav Ganguly said the 40-year-old made the right decision by announcing his retirement before the start of the West Indies series.
“It’s the right decision and he has done it at the right time. I am very happy that he has done it before the start of the series. I will request the people of this country to come for these Two Test matches, whether in Kolkata or Mumbai, just to show their respect to this great man,” said Ganguly.
Mohammad Azharuddin, former captain and a Lok Sabha MP, said Tendulkar’s decision wasn’t surprising.
“It was coming for sure but I didn’t have the clue as to when it was coming. But it’s his decision and we must respect it. We should remember his playing career as something that always gave us joy and made us proud,” he told PTI.
“I first saw him during a Hyderabad versus Mumbai Ranji match where he batted well. And then saw his daredevilry against Abdul Qadir from the dressing room. A lot of people had talent but what made him different was passion,” Azharuddin said.
Asked about his most memorable Tendulkar moment, he said, “There are many but obviously the 1996 Cape Town Test match where we both scored centuries. The SA attack had Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Brain McMillan and Lance Klusener and we literally thrashed them during a particular period.”
Ganguly said India earned the respect of the cricketing world because of the way Tendulkar played against Australia, England and Pakistan overseas.
“India earned the respect after 2000 because of the way he played overseas against Australia, England, Pakistan and other places around the world. He was instrumental in that.
For me that is the biggest contribution.”
“His innings in Sydney in 2003 was the best. His entire innings of 240 in the final Test in Sydney, not one single cover drive, that shows the ability of the man and his mental strength.”
Spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan called it a “bad day” for cricket.
“I think it’s a bad day for Indian cricket, world cricket as well. We won’t see Sachin any more in the playing kit. He is retiring on his own terms,” Muralitharan said.
“Definitely, we always wanted to have Sachin’s wicket. Every opposition looks forward to getting him out. Most of the times, he had won the battle. He was such a great player. Difficult to single out any moment,” the Sri Lankan added.
Describing Tendulkar as the greatest cricketer the country has produced, former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar said the batting great’s decision came as a surprise.
“Sachin is the greatest cricketer India has produced and a fantastic role model for all cricketers with his demeanour on and off the field. He has set almost all the records in all formats and has had one of the greatest careers in the history of the game,” said the former chief selector.
“I did not really expect him to retire. I thought he will play all through the year (season). He’s chosen to go on a high after the 200th Test,” the 116-Test veteran added.