(by Ankur Mishra)
Long Long time ago, if I remember correctly almost 21 years ago, for the very first time I saw a little boy walking on the lush green turf of Sydney Cricket Ground, I was a young kid then and strangely enough the guy on TV looked very much my own age.
I knew little about the game then,also I did not have the faintest idea that this sport would become my religion in the coming years and I was witnessing the birth of a prophet who will be the very foundation of the belief. That afternoon “Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar” burst from his cocoon to conquer the heights that were never scaled before in the history of the Sport.
India was a different nation then and certainly Cricket as a sport was on its path to trample every other kind.Not that the 19 year old child prodigy showed signs of the Godly talent everybody thought he possessed,the reason I mentioned that humid afternoon in Sydney has to be the stunning display of technique and aggression which has seldom been displayed by Team India until then in their 60 years of cricketing history.
The Kangaroos have always been the toughest opponents to humble,no matter where they are playing. They had a dynamite pace bowling attack and Sydney pitch was not the one we know now(used to be a lot quicker).
Ball after ball, big heavy blade of that young teenager from Bandra kept muscling the red cherry to the long boundaries of SCG. And here we were, when he raised his bat and took of his helmet,every living soul who knew the world ‘Cricket’ just had an enlightenment,HE is here,the torch bearer for years to come. Fascinating memory !!
It feels like ages now since that day.21 years have passed,as age caught up with me,Tendulkar’s stature grew both in magnitude and substance.
The great man conquered all the possible records the game can throw at him, arguably the greatest batsman of all time and definitely the greatest sports ambassador our country has ever produced.As most of the kids of my generation have seen 25 seasons,having our own hero who humbled the entire world with just talent,skill and perseverance provided just the kind of belief needed to drive the nation forward.
In these 24 years,Tendulkar changed a lot of things around the entire landscape apart from several hairstyles he has had, to become a Man who brings the diversity of 1 billion people under a single umbrella.Prayers became one,Gods became one,religions became one,and most importantly India became one.From a mere minnow to the Cricketing Powerhouse,it was a voyage,tough as it was,but as if our Captain knew every move of the wind to sail us through.
As Time always has the last laugh,probably it will be curtains to the glorious career and a fairy tale journey of joy and pride.The journey that me & my generation have been a part of,one never even thought about a world without the maestro walking out to the park with defining cheers with same stern expressions,as HE steps into the fourth decade of his life,we along with billions just hope that as the little champion humbled record books,HE will somehow find a way to conquer the test of times.
When the backs were against the wall HE made us believe that he always had things under control for the best part of 24 long seasons,as lips pray “just once more.. Sachin just once more…!!”,like a ship disappearing in the horizon, hoping against hope that Maestro will make us believe again that “40 is just a Number !!”