At the outset, I must confess I have never been a keen follower of cricket. Not because of any aversion to this game of glorious uncertainties, but due to my commitments as an athlete in my younger days and as a coach thereafter.
All the same, this has not stopped me from admiring our iconic Sachin Tendulkar ever since he launched himself into international cricket in the series against Pakistan in 1989.
And, as he prepares to hang up his boots for good, I can only stand in awe and salute him for the wonderful manner in which he has carried himself on and off the field through all these years.
It is true that you need talent to come up in sports.
But a truly great sportsman is one who makes good use of the talent through dedication and determination, and working hard, physically, day in and day out.
I believe Sachin is the perfect example amongst us all as one who excelled in the international arena because of his single-minded devotion to cricket.
This should also explain the long and memorable innings that Sachin has enjoyed in international cricket.
Over the past few days, I have met people discussing Sachin’s retirement, with most arguing that he should have carried on for some more time.
But, I think Sachin has taken the right decision at the right time. He would have weighed the pros and cons of his continuance before making public his decision to retire.
In this connection, I also think that though many would have a reason or two to point an accusing finger at our cricket administrators, the Board of Control for Cricket in India deserves full credit for giving the opportunity to such a great player like Sachin to retire on his own terms and that too with a Test at his home ground.
Beyond his batting, Sachin’s one other quality that has often attracted me is his humble approach.
Over the past few years, I have had the honour of meeting him and was always awe-struck by his humility and concern for others.
He always came across as a simple human being, though a bit shy at times.
Lastly, I would also like to take this opportunity to put across a request to Sachin. He has been a brand ambassador of cricket all along.
After his retirement, I would like him to change track and take up a lead role in promoting Olympic sports disciplines in our country in a big way.
His personal involvement would be a great boost to Indian sport and I am hopeful that he would give due consideration to this request.
I am aware of his views on including sport as a subject in our educational curriculum and if he takes up the challenge of improving the lot of sportspersons in other disciplines as well, I would also like to assure him all my support in such ventures.
I hope that he does well in the Mumbai Test and also wish him all the best in his post-retirement life.
(as told to A. Vinod in Thiruvananthapuram)