The Bible calls Armageddon the day the world would come to an end. The day Sachin Tendulkar played his last match felt like Armageddon for his billion fans. The day was marked with cheers, tears and hurrahs as Tendulkar took the last walk back to the pavilion. He embraced his teammates, who tried to give him a guard of honour on his way out, but an emotional Tendulkar quickly went back to the pavilion wiping away his tears.
The media, both national and international, was emphatic in its emotions, stood together in applause and showered praises on the Little Master. The Times Of India indicated that Tendulkar should be made the sports minister and pointed out the advantages. “Sachin would be able to enhance manifold the prestige of the sports ministry, now seen mainly as a platform to disburse political patronage. Sporting bodies and federations have become highly politicised, as evident in the recent imbroglio involving the suspension of the Indian Olympic Association from the Olympic movement. However, Sachin can help change all this. His words and ideas could start a new movement, as they have the weight to cut through the web of vested interests tying down Indian sports.”
In the opinion piece titled ‘Let The Game Win’, The Hindustan Times said cricket needs to learn from Tendulkar. “He can enrich the technical side of the game, which does need sage advice to sort out complications over how to use technology (read: DRS) and revitalise Test cricket. Beyond that, his sheer personality can give direction to Indian sport, crying for a strong leader at the helm who understands the requirements of the athlete as the country looks to shake off official apathy and march towards becoming a global sporting power.”
The Hindu carried an emotional article by former Indian coach Greg Chappell who said that Tendulkar should be remembered with a smile. He called Tendulkar the king of the modern era in tune with other greats like Neil Harvey, Garfield Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards, Sunil Gavaskar, Viv Richards, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting. “All of them were great players. Tendulkar in his prime was as good as any of them; often better. It was a privilege to watch him play and every time I think of his many fine innings, a smile comes naturally,” recalled Chappell.
The Guardian paid tribute to his 24-year career by saying that he taught a generation of cricketers how to conduct themselves. “This was all about one man. In an emotional valedictory address, Tendulkar, 40, said what so many across the country felt: ‘It’s hard to believe my wonderful journey is coming to an end’,” it said. “Tendulkar, adored by all communities in his homeland, represented a vision of unity that many Indians today fear may be imperilled as a divisive election campaign season looms.”
Leading US publications also paid tribute to Tendulkar, applauding the veteran batsman for his “supreme” talent and a career lived with soft-spoken integrity and humility. “This week, for more than a billion people, the world as they know it effectively comes to an end. The second test match between India and the West Indies...will be the last international appearance of one Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar,” a Wall Street Journal article titled ‘Farewell to Cricket’s Little Master’ said.
An op-ed in The New York Times likened Tendulkar’s retirement from cricket to the death of Mahatma Gandhi. “As the moment of his (Tendulkar’s) departure looms, the country is in the fevered throes of one last, mammoth celebration, but also on the nonself- conscious brink of mourning,” the op-ed piece titled ‘Where the Gods Live On... and On’ said. Time magazine put out a special online feature highlighting Tendulkar’s 10 greatest moments, including his 664-run unbroken partnership with fellow cricketer Vinod Kambli in 1988, becoming the captain of the Indian team in 1996 at age 23, surpassing Caribbean great Brian Lara to become the highest run scorer in Test history in 2008, and the 2011 World Cup win.
Author and politician Shashi Tharoor, in an article for the BBC, wondered how India and its cricket will cope with life without him: “Five decades ago, as India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, began visibly ailing, the nation and the world were consumed by the question: “After Nehru, who?” The inexpressible fear lay in the subtext to the question: “After Nehru, what?” Today, cricket-crazy India and lovers of the sport across the world find themselves asking a similar question, in the same hushed and anxious tones, “After Tendulkar, who?” and indeed, about India, “After Tendulkar, what?”
The Dawn said, “Excellence in sports is not achieved by ordinary mortals but by those who are blessed with the gift of being extraordinary in talent and also in character. The master batsman Sachin Tendulkar is blessed with both.” Al Jazeera also focused on the cricketing legend’s tearful farewell.
“Sachin Tendulkar wept as he left the pitch for the final time after his 200th Test match, ending a glittering career spanning nearly a quarter of a century,” it noted. The Australian’s headline said, ‘Teary Tendulkar bows out of test cricket’. “Tendulkar embraced teammates as the Test against the West Indies ended but, as they tried to give him a guard of honour on his way off the ground, the most prolific batsman in international cricket history rushed past them, quickly making his way into the pavilion, wiping away tears.”
Reuters said Sachin Tendulkar fell short of a fairytale ton in his farewell test on Friday but “the batsman’s 74-run knock was embellished by a full repertoire of classy shots the ‘Little Master’ was renowned for during a sparkling 24-year career. The Indian government has acknowledged Tendulkar’s contribution by bestowing him the Bharat Ratna. There was perhaps no better way to thank the great man of Indian cricket.”