Sachin Tendulkar retirement: Mumbai Cricket Association celebrates 'Aapla Sachin'

Sachin Tendulkar thanked the MCA for helping him during his early cricketing day. Photo Courtesy: DNA

By Derek Abraham

Kolkata was about photo exhibitions, masks, placards, cut-outs, paeans, confetti, balloons, roses, a wax statue and an innings victory inside three days. Well, what the Cricket Association of Bengal can do, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) can do better. Or so thinks Sharad Pawar.

On Monday, the MCA kick-started its poignant ‘Goodbye Sachin’ saga with a gala function at its Kandivli clubhouse by naming the facility after the batting great. The Sachin Tendulkar Gymkhana, replete with indoor nets, restaurants, banquet halls and a ground capable of hosting a first-class fixture, will be open to the public.

“It felt special to read my name at the entrance of the club[house],” a beaming Tendulkar told the gathering comprising the Indian and West Indian teams, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, mayor Sunil Prabhu and several former India and Mumbai players.

Outside the venue, hordes of locals were in celebratory mode, probably glad they got to see the Indian team bus. Many others made their terrace a vantage point.

“It feels good, as I am not used to it. I didn’t expect this. It was a humble experience. I thank the MCA for this kind gesture,” the master added.

The evening, aptly titled ‘Aapla Sachin’, was open to general public as well, with a few thousand fans flocking the giant pandal. The four mega-screens also helped and, all in all, the function was a grand success.

There was a dance performance by the gorgeous Isha Sharwani before the singer Shaan crooned a few Kishore Kumar numbers with a Tendulkar twist. Amitabh Bachchan’s popular chartbuster “Arre deewano… main hoon don” became “Cricket ke liye I was born… main hoon don.”

Things got a little drab when MCA officials took turns to felicitate (basically presenting a bouquet and a memento) to the various politicians in the house.

The house came down when Ravi Shastri, the emcee, invited Tendulkar on stage. “Thanks for being here,” Tendulkar told the gathering. It was, in fact, his first public speech after he announced his retirement.

“My association with the MCA began about 29 years ago when I played for the Mumbai U-15 side. I want to thank the MCA for doing so much for me. They make the nets available for me at any time I want. I just need to make a phone call to get it,” he added.

“I had the right pitches, the right wickets to prepare myself. To play for India has been truly memorable, I think every step was different and every tour required different preparations,” he said.

“To continue to build a sporting culture in our nation is very important. That can happen with right guidance, coaching and right facilities. All this should be there for the coming generation,” he said. I think it (clubhouse) is a great platform for the next generation to make use of,” he added.

SMG snubbed?

Sunil Gavaskar and his maternal uncle, Madhav Mantri, were also present at the function on Monday. But neither the original ‘Little Master’ nor the country’s oldest living Test cricketer were called upon stage. “This is really bad. They invited one politician after another. But Sunil sir and Mantri sir were ignored,” an MCA insider said.

(The writer is Principal Correspondent at DNA, where the above article first appeared)