I am a cricket fan. I endure caning when I go to buy a ticket to a match and suffer more when getting to my seat. But I love my cricket and my cricketers. I bunk school and sneak to the ground to watch my heroes in flesh.
I also hook on to the commentary when the boss is away. Following cricket is my life actually. Is it not fans who make a sportsman the legend that he comes to be known as!
But I don’t get an opportunity to connect with my hero. When he retires, he just fades away from the field, not from our memory.
However, as a fan, a die-hard follower of the game, I don’t get an opportunity to participate in his farewell.
In recent times, I have seen some greats take a bow, gracefully and thoughtfully. But then their final moments on the field hardly attracted the attention of their fans. That final walk, amidst thundering ovation, with echoes in various corners of the world, in schools, offices, homes and fields, has almost passed un-noticed.
Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, V. V. S. Laxman were kind in informing some journos and close friends in advance that they had decided to call it a day. Just as Sachin Tendulkar. But those were private sharing of emotions. The fans remained oblivious until the media broke the news the next day.
Why can’t I, a humble cricket fan, become a part of the retirement if it is a process. My support to my hero, praying and sometimes fasting for his success, remains a personal association, well concealed from the public.
Even the hero remains unaware. I have always craved for my hero’s attention. It can mean a message, through the media, or best, an invitation to enjoy his retirement in the same fervour as his work on the field.
I have only heard or read of Don Bradman’s last innings in cricket. The world followed his farewell show. Sadly it ended with the Australian legend scoring nothing in the Oval Test. He got to bat just once as Australia won by an innings but he was accorded a standing ovation twice — when he went to bat and on his return. For everyone knew it was his farewell appearance in Test cricket.
What prevents us from giving a Tendulkar, a Dravid, a Laxman, Kumble or Sehwag the opportunity to walk back to an ovation from the audience? These are moments that are treasured for posterity by cricket fans like me. “I was there,” can be a story for my grandchildren to hear countless times. But it remains a dream.
When Kapil Dev limped back to the dressing room, troubled by a hamstring injury, against the West Indies at Faridabad in 1994, little did I know it was to be his farewell! The same fate befell Kumble, an injury at Delhi hastened his retirement. He attended the next Test at Nagpur but not as a player.
Dravid and Laxman figured in the defeat at Adelaide in 2012. India lost the Test and Indian cricket two of its finest cricketers.
And now Tendulkar joins that list. I will not watch him turn out for India in coloured clothing again. Sad! He remembered to kindly thank his fans but why did he not choose a match as his farewell for me to be an integral part of his fading process.
If not at the ground, I would have again bunked school or office and bid him a standing ovation from my drawing room.
As a cricket fan, I hope Tendulkar, one of the greatest icons of the game, will give me a chance to celebrate his farewell from international cricket.
If Bradman, Steve Waugh, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Sunil Gavaskar could do it, why not Tendulkar? He deserves a standing ovation from the cricket world when he walks back finally to the dressing room. I, the cricket fan, deserve the right to applaud his genius from the stands.
Keywords: Sachin Tendulkar retirement