'Sachin Tendulkar's retirement was an emotional moment for me'

After 24 years of international cricket, Sachin Tendulkar bid adieu on Saturday after his 200th Test match © IANS

By Hanif Mohammad

It is not me but Sachin Tendulkar who deserves the title of Little Master. And a little genius too!

It was indeed an emotional moment for me to see Tendulkar walk into the sunset of a phenomenal career which doubt can ever be surpassed by any cricketer. It marked the end of an era and what the ‘Little Genius’ has achieved will serve as an inspiration for the younger generation.

There is no other cricketer whose career I have followed with such fascination and interest and I think Indian cricket owes a lot to him. India should thank Tendulkar for inspiring a new generation of great talent in the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.

Because if there is one man who has inspired Indian cricket to new heights, it is this little fellow. Today, the young talent in Indian cricket only has Tendulkar to thank for their rise as he inspired them with his determination, concentration, confidence and greatness.

To have dominated the cricket arena for 24 years speaks volumes of his passion for the game and his dedication. He is a true role model for the younger generation not only for his cricketing exploits but also for his conduct off the field.

I must confess that when Tendulkar walked out for his farewell Test match in Mumbai and after having seen the love, respect and adulation showered on him, I was moved to tears.

Tears, because this is the last time we will get to see his exquisite batting live, because I feel he decided to retire because off those people who felt the time had come for him to go from the new Indian team and because I honestly believe he could have played on for another two-three years.

I have had the opportunity to meet up with this little master thrice. The last time was when the late Raj Singh Dungarpur invited me and my family to Mumbai for the Cricket Club of India silver jubilee celebrations.

I appeared on a television show and to me it came as a shock to hear some people question Tendulkar’s future in the Indian team, his fitness and form and if he should retire.

This was about 10 years ago and I remember saying then ‘You have a jewel don’t spoil it, it is important for Tendulkar to be part of the Indian team and let him play as long as he wants and let him decide when he wants to hang up his boots.’

It is a matter of pride for me that I was not wrong because Sachin went on to create new records and set new benchmarks in batting which I don’t think will be bettered for years to come.

I am fortunate to have played in the Bradman era and also seen the greatness of Tendulkar and inevitably I am asked who is the greatest batsman of all time. Was it Bradman with his Test average of 99 or Tendulkar with his 100 international hundreds? Surely Bradman should get this title but it is always tough to make such comparisons and for me there is no comparison. Because it is safe to say that when you play more matches, your average does tend to get affected.

There is no doubt about Bradman’s class or caliber but Tendulkar stands out with his consistency, determination and run scoring feats in the last 25 years. He has shown what one can achieve with sheer hardwork and passion and he became the best by consistently performing in any format.

— As told to PTI

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(Hanif Mohammad is a former Pakistan cricketer. He played 55 Test matches between 1952-53 and 1969-70)