Sourav Ganguly feels the game is not about just reaching milestones but the overall joy of playing. Sachin, he writes, has had and continues to have the bigger interest of Indian cricket in his heart and mind.
The retirement debate was still on when Sachin Tendulkar announced on Sunday that he was retiring from One-Day Internationals. It was quite a shock to many, but I’m not surprised at all because lately he hadn’t been playing consistently in ODIs. He had previously mentioned that he intended to give selectors an opportunity to re-build a team for the World Cup in 2015 and it is clear that he has the larger interests of the Indian cricket team in his heart and mind.
Some believed that Sachin would retire after achieving a huge milestone of winning the World Cup for India last year, but I didn’t expect him to leave. The game is not only about reaching milestones or winning trophies; it is the overall joy of playing. Sachin continued his good form after the World Cup and scored ample runs, so there was no reason for him to step aside.
Many players retire from limited-overs cricket to concentrate on their Test career. Whichever format Sachin is playing in, you expect him to perform big. He’s been doing that for so many years. Sachin is revered in Australia and I understand that a special performance will be expected from him in the upcoming series.
Sachin has many records to his credit, some of which may never be surpassed. His records will never be broken because he achieved it with his unbelievable ability. His superior technique has set him apart from everyone else. He was superb in Test cricket and I strongly believe that if you’re good in Test cricket, you can be fantastic in any other format of the game.
My opening partnership with Sachin in ODIs is the most successful in the history of cricket. I believe this happened because we both scored heavily in our games. We understood our games well and that made it possible for us to set up the bowlers to get more runs. Our partnership was built on the fact that we enjoyed batting in each other’s company. Also, an extra factor that worked in our favour was that he was a right-handed batsman and I was left-handed.
All partnerships with Sachin are special to me, and we hold the record for the maximum number of century partnerships. My favourite memories are of watching him from the non-striker’s end. But my best memory is of Sachin on his teammates’ shoulders after winning the World Cup last year. We all know how much it meant to him.
Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Sachin and I were part of the generation that was inspired by India’s victory in the 1983 World Cup. Unfortunately, Dravid, Kumble and I never managed to taste World Cup glory. For any cricket player in India, it is a huge dream to be part of a team that lifts the cup. We came close in 2003 but lost to a formidable Australian side. I remember Sachin saying that he was lucky to be part of the winning team in 2011. Winning the cup is a terrific achievement, something to be cherished for the rest of your life.
Most of the current players in the team started with Sachin in the team to guide them. Virat Kohli is one such who has an incredible record in ODIs so far. Youngsters learn from the stalwarts, and Virat surely has learnt a lot by being alongside Sachin. Virat has the natural ability and technique to score runs. He is mentally strong, he plays to make runs. His batting skill is commendable. The quick-fire innings that Virat played at Wankhede in the recent T20I against England didn’t contain a single slog and showcased his class. I’m sure he is not the last of a line of cricketers inspired by Sachin.
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