At an age when cricketers prefer to sit back and enjoy their time off the field after delivering their best in the sport, legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar shows no sign of stopping. Today, he turns 40 - a mere number which perhaps, fails to reflect the child-like passion and prodigal talent that he continues to possess.
Each year on April 24, fans join cricket pundits in celebrating Sachin's special day. The man himself though, in return, continues to give a reason to most to celebrate cricket every single time he steps out on the field. And he has been doing it relentlessly for the last 24 years!
Interestingly, Sachin has emphasised right through his career that he is an ordinary man. "I am not god. God does not make mistakes but I do," he recently said in an interview. Yet, the batsman has let his bat show that he is more than just an ordinary mortal courtesy his passion for the game, his timeless class on the field and charity work off it. Age may have weathered his physical body to an extent with some rightly saying he is not what he was years ago. At 40 though, who is even close to what he continues to be currently?
Statistics reveal that no player currently active in cricket is even remotely close to surpassing Sachin's records. What these statistics do not show though is that a hundred international centuries, a mammoth 34000-plus runs in international cricket and a sparkling reputation continues to inspire millions of players - not just in India but around the world.
Last week, the Sydney Cricket Ground unveiled a wax replica of the player. London's Madame Tussauds Museum already had a figure of him from long ago. Add prestigious awards like Padma Vibhushan, Padma Shri, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and Order of Australia to the list and it justifies why people all over hail this man as one of the best things to have happened to the sport.
Several current and former players have wished Sachin in the approach to his 40th birthday. A 40-pound cake is planned at the Eden Gardens too where he will play an IPL match on Wednesday. For the small number of staunch critics who will continue to undermine his talent and highlight his age, Sachin's coach Ramakant Achrekar has an apt reply: "May he's blessed with more and more runs. I want to see him play long and really long. He will live happily as long as he plays. Cricket is his passion."