Sachin Tendulkar retirement: Gloom and doom the morning after

Sachin Tendulkar will retire after his 200th Test © Getty Images

Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement has brought an end to the regular way of life for millions in India and the greater world of cricket. Arunabha Sengupta wakes up to a new life where soon the master will no longer be walking out at number four for India.

Unaware that dawns will never be the same again, the sun peeps out. A corollary to the cliché that life goes on.

I wake up as well, following the dictums of the usual — although the biggest constant in life has been altered forever.

Light has begun to paint the world in fairness, yet the darkness remains absolute.

The huge hollow that gnaws at my core does away with the fleeting moment of fanciful dream. No, it was not a nightmare that can be pushed indefinitely under the obscure structure of future. It is agonisingly real.

The announcement of retirement has been clear in its finality. The pain is palpable. An abiding source of sustenance has been scooped out, leaving a void in the heart and a lump in the throat. A fundamental layer of the soul has been ripped away forever.

I have to get up in this new world. So do millions of others. A world that never retires. A world that is unreal. A world that needs getting used to. A world that many have never experienced.

Where soon the fall of the second Indian wicket will no longer result in racing pulse and feverish anticipation.

Where the sight of a blue helmet will no longer result in the ‘Sachin … Sachin’ chants engulfing the ground, the nation and every Indian diaspora around the world.

Where the cherished hopes and the sense of wellbeing of uncountable fans will not be borne on the shoulders of a single man.

Where the master will no longer trot down into the ground, take a look at the sun and walk purposefully to the wicket.

Where Sachin Tendulkar will no longer bat at No 4 for India. He has announced his retirement in no uncertain terms.

A source of purest joy ever known is about to be switched off. The thread binding me to my schooldays is about to be snapped. The lodestar of Indian consciousness is about to be extinguished.

The statement released by the master said, “It’s hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because it’s all I have ever done since I was 11 years old.” It is as difficult to imagine a life without watching Tendulkar at the wicket.

If the decision to retire was delayed, as many felt it was, because Tendulkar has not known life without cricket; it was dreaded as well because, like me, many have not known life without Tendulkar.

Yes, the retirement was expected. For long.

There have been lives lived, egos stoked and careers built around that favourite spectator sport in India — snapping at those noble heels. Supposed ‘individual over team’ evangelists have never been so obsessed about one particular man — the very one who has for a great portion of his career been the one man army for the Indian team. Twenty-three years of sweat and blood have often been tarnished and defiled — to be carelessly exchanged for disgraceful capsules of fifteen minutes of fame. Thousands of insignificant voices have not hesitated to judge the ultimate master of the game, to question the commitment of the one man whose contribution to India and cricket is beyond existing yardsticks. The carping critics of the last two years have hardly ever allowed us to forget the encroaching end — that one day even Sachin Tendulkar would have to retire.

Yet, much like the death of a loved one, awareness of inevitability scarcely acts as a balm. There is the suddenness of shock, followed by helpless denial before gradual acceptance.

Through his career the great man has forged a personal bond with every genuine lover of the game. For uncountable fans every setback in life, every tragedy, every heartbreak have for long found their equalising balance in the feats of the master. One has discovered happiness and ecstasy, support and solace in a hundred from his bat or a stormy innings that proved pivotal, that won the match for India. Now this final sorrow has to be faced alone. The grief is at once universal and personal. For all these adherents, the retirement has changed everything. Life will never be the same again.

Yes, I too will have to get up and face the reality. A month down the line I will be one of the teeming millions faced with the unfamiliar task of walking alone.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

Sachin Tendulkar Retirement