Harsha Bhogle: You were a great habit, Sachin Tendulkar


Dear Sachin

I guess this means the countdown has begun. It couldn't be easy for you since cricket has been your life, your solitary love outside of your family. I know there are cars and music and sea-food and, as I recently realised, a glass of wine, but a bat was what you were meant to hold and it is with that that you mesmerised a nation and a sport.

I wondered if you could have given up Test cricket and stayed on in one-day internationals until you told me it takes a lot out of you and you were never one to give less than a hundred per cent anyway.

I guess your body finally won. It had been giving you signals, that permanently cracked bone in your toe, the struggle to get out of bed when the back played up, that elbow....ah, that's a different story altogether, but you always over-ruled it.

It must have sulked but you forced more out of it than anyone else. It was bound to serve notice one day. I mean, you will be forty soon, people get reading glasses at forty!

But you leave behind an aspect of cricket that you defined. There will be comparisons with other greats in Test cricket and you will be a chapter in its history but with the one-dayer, you are its history in a sense, certainly in India where you have played in more than half the games (463 out of 809). India had played a mere 165 games before you started and it is a measure of the impact you have had that there were only 17 centuries scored by then. India made a century every 9.70 games. After you started that number comes down dramatically to one every 3.52 games. And since that first century in Colombo it comes down even further to one every 3.23 games. And to think that you started with two ducks! Now, of course the kids keep notching them up, this young fellow Kohli for example who plays with your intensity but whose vocabulary I guess you would still struggle with!

... contd.

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