Rarely has there been a more emotional farewell than the one that Sachin Tendulkar has just received from his adoring countrymen - a packed stadium, a beautiful final innings, and an Indian victory, crowds chanting "Sachiin Sachiin", an emotional farewell speech, and to cap it all, a Bharat Ratna. (Highlights from the interview)
A day after his retirement Sachin Tendulkar talks to NDTV's Vikram Chandra on life after cricket.
Here's the full transcript of the interview:
Vikram Chandra: It gives us great pleasure to have the legend with us. Sachin Tendulkar, thank you so much for talking to us. Could you have possibly scripted a better farewell than this? The crowd, the emotion, your innings, which was a great innings. It was a fairy-tale goodbye, wasn't it?
Sachin Tendulkar: It was indeed. I think right from the time I announced the retirement, people's reaction has been terrific. I played my last Ranji Trophy match at Lahli, where the response was amazing. After that we went to Kolkata to play the first Test against the West Indies. People were unbelievable. The reception that I got, wherever I went, people were so loving and finally in Mumbai, it was an unbelievable reaction. You can't plan these kinds of things. It's a script written from above. All I can say is a big thank you to all the people and above all to the Almighty, because it was His script. Â
Vikram Chandra: You won every one of your last match in all the formats. I guess people are already starting to say 'what's next for Sachin?' and that speech that you made had a lot of people saying 'he should be in public speaking', 'he should be in politics' or both.
Sachin Tendulkar: I'm actually really, really shy. And, a sportsman will always be a sportsman at heart.
Vikram Chandra: So where did that speech come from, did you script it before?
Sachin Tendulkar: No, on that list, I only had the names which I genuinely wanted to thank. I didn't want to miss out those names. I missed out many names. It was little difficult for me to speak and that was the only reason I carried a bottle of water with me. And, as and when it was getting a little difficult to speak, I was sipping water and calming myself down. But I spoke from my heart, whatever I felt. There was no script as such. I knew that these are the people I need to thank and their contribution in my life has been immense.
Vikram Chandra: Obviously, it was very emotional for you. We saw tears in your eyes, both when you were walking off and then when you went back to pay tribute to the pitch, that was a touching moment. The crowd as well, there were grown men crying like babies, everyone weeping. How tough was it for you, when you went back and gave tribute to the pitch? Â
Sachin Tendulkar: That was really tough. The kind of send-off my team gave me, I think that was also very emotional. Before that I knew when West Indies lost nine wickets, the whole team gathered in the middle and MS Dhoni said 'Paaji, you please leave us alone, you go because we're planning something for you. We don't want you to be here.' You must have noticed that the whole team was in a huddle and I was the only one going towards deep square-leg. And I was wondering what are they planning, they're up to something. And actually when they gave the send-off, it was really emotional. Also, to come to terms that this is my last time playing for India. After this I may end up playing charity games, exhibition games, but it will never be for India. So that was really really emotional. After all the ceremony, I went to the wicket, stood between 22 yards and just took the blessings and basically thanked cricket for everything. Whatever I've been able to become (is) because of cricket in life. I just wanted to thank cricket for that and that's when I got emotional.
Vikram Chandra: I'm wondering what you're going to miss the most? The cricket itself or the camaraderie of being with the team and the dressing room atmosphere? The reason I ask is because it is possible to get you back as coach or a mentor.
Sachin Tendulkar: I will miss being with the team because when you're traveling with the team, the energy is something. Every time you are thinking about the opposition, and you want to be a step ahead of them. So even if you are having dinner casually, or even cracking jokes with your friends, but somewhere it will come that this is how you need to bowl to a particular batsman or rather when that bowler bowls, we need to do this and this is how you need to face the ball. So somewhere your sub conscious mind is constantly working and your mind is constantly occupied thinking about the game. So I will miss that, it will not happen anymore. I'll end up playing cricket, it is hard for me not to pick up a cricket bat. I'll do that but it will be for fun and if it doesn't work, it wouldn't give me sleepless nights because playing for India there was this huge responsibility and I didn't take anything for granted. Right now, I'm in a position where I can put up my feet. If I feel like just playing couple of balls, if I miss, doesn't matter.
Vikram Chandra: I guess you can always play with Arjun and that's the promise you've now made and all those birthdays and other things that you missed.
Sachin Tendulkar: Yeah, I feel sad for both Arjun and Sara because I've spent so much time away from them, missed their birthdays, annual days and sports days and various holidays, where children look forward to time with their parents. There were times when I could not be there because of my cricket commitments. I've lost out on all those years. They've really grown up. I would like to give them all of my time, all the attention and that's my priority now.
Vikram Chandra: Other than that, an autobiography that many people are expecting from you?
Sachin Tendulkar: Yes, I'm planning to do something like that and obviously fair amount of work has gone behind that but we're still some time away from it. Something I would like people to know about my life.
Vikram Chandra: When you look back at your entire career, which do you think is the best moment? Perhaps, I can guess, was it April 2, 2011?
Sachin Tendulkar: You got it. Nothing gets bigger than the World Cup. The entire nation was celebrating. I've spoken to so many senior guys - 70 year-olds and 80-year-olds, they were all jumping and dancing and that is what World Cup does to your nation. Just to lift that trophy and hold it in my hands after so many years was amazing.
Vikram Chandra: So that was the biggest moment for you, more than any of the centuries...
Sachin Tendulkar: Without a doubt.
Vikram Chandra: And the worst moment? Was it the injuries or was it some of the controversies like 'monkey-gate' etc.?
Sachin Tendulkar: I would say injuries were a challenging time, where I thought my career was over, when I got operated on my tennis elbow, it was difficult to lift a cricket bat. Most disappointing time I would say was 2003 World Cup, when we got so close to winning the trophy, got in the finals and then we missed an opportunity. So that was really disappointing.
Vikram Chandra: And we have chased 359 in the recent past so who knows...
Sachin Tendulkar: Yes, this game is the greatest leveler. It just teaches you. You got to be prepared to be a good student of the game and keep learning.
Vikram Chandra: You know what you meant to the people of this nation and you've sensed a lot of emotion there and I think it is also partly because you've been a symbol of a new India, a resurgent India and you've given the country the belief that they can go out and compete with anybody. Your relationship with the people of the country, I don't think that is ever going to fade, what they think they owe you...
Sachin Tendulkar: I experienced that at a different level altogether in the last seven days. It was unreal. It was as if I was dreaming about all these things. You can't plan a script like this. It was where people had so many nice things to tell me and constantly saying 'we will miss you, please don't retire'. I'm overwhelmed by this reaction. It will always stay with me, till my last breath.
Vikram Chandra: I can assure you that the regard that the people of this country have will stay with us and I'm sure you'll continue to experience us wherever you go. So, all the best Sachin for whatever you do and on behalf of NDTV, the entire country, thank you for the memories and thank you for what you meant for all of us.
Sachin Tendulkar: Thanks for all the good wishes. I'll treasure them.