image_20131119225344

Sachin Tendulkar walks back after being dismissed during his last innings in Test cricket. While his West Indian team-mates celebrated the wicket, Darren Sammy (right) didn’t show any emotion © IANS

By G Krishnan

Nov 19, 2013

West Indies captain Darren Sammy has said that his respect for Sachin Tendulkar prevented him from celebrating when he took the legendary batsman’s catch during the second Test against India at Mumbai. Tendulkar was dismissed for 74 during his final innings in Test cricket and was caught at first slip by Sammy off the bowling of Narsingh Deonarine.

Going by the way the West Indies performed in the impromptu two-Test series that marked the end of  Tendulkar’s remarkable international career, it seemed that they just filled in the numbers. Except for two sessions in the first Test in Kolkata, the West Indies were miserable on the field. The way they turned up here showed that they were only happy to be part of the historic Tests. They did not put up any fight. In the process, they missed out on four additional days of enjoying the moments in Tendulkar’s final journey.

Defeated West Indies captain Sammy was frank in his comments on Saturday when he said: “It’s very disappointing. We never turned up in the series. Coming here really taught us a lesson, exposed us. It taught us how far we are behind the top four teams in the world. I was speaking to a friend and he summed it up very well. He said, ‘we knew you were coming here to a celebration, and you got a lot of gifts’. That’s what we did. Rohit making his debut Test series, we gifted him two hundreds. Mohammed Shami making his debut, we gifted him lots of wickets. It’s a good lesson for us as we head down to New Zealand for our next Test series.

“We were quite happy coming here. We haven’t played Test cricket in some time, so getting two matches against a good opposition was a wonderful opportunity for us to measure ourselves in world cricket. We’re much better than what we displayed over the last two Tests. Every time we’ve been under pressure, we’ve not responded well. I guess it’s a mental thing. Myself as captain have not led from the front at all in this series. We deserve all the criticism and the comments that have been thrown at us.”

Sammy’s post-match press briefing took place just when Tendulkar was going on a lap of honour. Hardly were a handful of journalists attended it, a majority of them soaking in the emotional moment that was going on at the ground.

Having failed in both the innings here, Sammy’s only worthwhile contribution came in the form of slip catches, one of the five marking the end of Tendulkar’s final innings on Friday.

“I took a brilliant catch to dismiss him but there was no emotion shown. That’s the level of respect I have for the man,” Sammy said. “We have utmost respect for Sachin, respect for what he’s done for the game. He is a special man but he is made even more special the way the fans treat him. I don’t think any other sportsman in any sport has gotten that type of treatment from his or her followers.

India has set the benchmark as to how you support your own son of the soil. Many great cricketers have come and gone but Sachin is one that will never be forgotten. Kids who are probably not born yet, they will grow up in India and they will hear about Sachin Tendulkar. That’s the legacy he has left behind. So, to be part of it is a wonderful experience. The cricket, we would so love to forget, how we played, but to be part of this momentous occasion is something I will never forget.”

Sammy’s admiration for Tendulkar did not end with that. He went on. “In any sport, you have fans who support their heroes. The superstars in that particular sport, the fans turn out and support them. In Formula One, it is Michael Schumacher, in basketball you have Michael Jordan, in tennis Roger Federer, in golf Tiger Woods. But something about cricket and India and Sachin Tendulkar – throughout the series, you saw the tweets, the text messages, the comments being made. It’s hard to sink in, the measure of the man, what he represents and like I said, probably we don’t have words to describe what he means to cricket,” he said.

(G Krishnan qualified as an umpire from Tamil Nadu Cricket Association in 1997 before making sports journalism as a career. His other interests include wildlife and reading. Krishnan is Principal Correspondent of DNA, where the article first appeared)