This is my tribute post to Sachin Tendulkar.
I never saw Sachin bat in person. Sachin never made me cry tears of joy in my living room. I never thought he was God. He did not define my childhood. He did not represent my nation’s coming of age. And his career for the most part while not in decline, was nearing its natural conclusion when I started following the sport.
But I am a cricket fan, and so I respected him as one of the all time greats, and I loved watching him bat, and I loved the adoration he commanded wherever he went. At the same time, however, I am not an Indian cricket supporter, and so his successes or failures did not affect me in the way they affected the one billion Indian cricket fans the world over.
There is no real reason for me to mourn his retirement from Test cricket – but I still do. Very much so.
I mourn because my friends the world over are mourning. I see them weep for their hero, weep for their childhoods. And I cannot help but empathize and get wrapped up in their sadness. It is never easy to see people you like in pain.
But it is more than that…
I mourn because the tributes I have been reading all day – whether they be 12o character tweets or 2,000 word essays or just simple pictures – have been heartbreakingly perfect and sad and full of that strange sort of melancholy we reserve for our childhood heroes, even if we only knew them as old men.
As I have mentioned time and again, cricket – and cricketers – inspire fantastic sportswriting, the best sportswriting, and so it would follow that the retirement of the greatest cricketer in a generation would generate beautiful tribute after tribute, and you all have not disappointed. I look forward to reading all of them. With a lump in my throat.
But it is more than that…
I mourn his retirement because I feel it might be one of the final nails in cricket’s coffin. If India turns its back on the game, then the game dies. And without Sachin, it will be far easier for India to do so – even with its current crop of rising stars lighting up the Wankhede.
As I tweeted earlier, I feel that cricket, the game, has lost its center of gravity, and is spinning uncontrollably into deep, dark, cold space. I am not sure if it can be saved. There will never be another Sachin – no one else will be able to elevate the sport quite like he did – and so this might be it, this might be how cricket dies. Historians will not write about DRS or matchfixing or the IPL when they talk about the death of the game, they will simple say: the game died with Sachin.
But it is still more…
A few months ago, I wrote a post about my dad and Sachin. Linking the two forever even though my dad probably didn’t know a blessed thing about cricket. And all the talk about Sachin’s debut in November of 1989 keeps bringing me back to that fateful day a month earlier. And I mourn my dad again. And I think about all the times Sachin batted: all those matches, all those runs, all those hundreds – and it just makes me realize how long my dad has really been gone. And how much has happened since he died. And it makes me so unbelievably sad.
And so I guess it worked. And I guess I was wrong above. My life is intrinsically linked to Sachin Tendulkar’s – tenuously linked but linked nonetheless – and now that he has retired, I feel like the grief for my dad should be changed in some way. But it hasn’t changed. And it won’t change. It will continue.
Sachin will soon be gone. But my grief will be here always.
And that is why I mourn Sachin’s retirement. All those reasons above.
Many of you are losing a hero, some of you are losing the last links to your youth, and all of us are losing the Patron Saint of this game we love. That right there is plenty of reason to mourn. But because I decided to write the post linked to above, Sachin’s career timeline also reminds me of my personal grief cycle – and that is enough to send me over the proverbial cliff.
And so I mourn.
God speed, Sachin.
We miss you already.
— Surrey Cricket (@surreycricket) October 10, 2013