LEGENDARY Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar’s decision to retire from international cricket next month after playing his 200th Test match marks the approaching end of a truly memorable career that spanned nearly a quarter of a century. Rated by critics and contemporaries as arguably the greatest postwar batsman to have played the game, Tendulkar continued to rewrite the record books with his brilliant batting skills since making his debut against Pakistan in Karachi way back in 1989. His 100 international centuries and over 15,000 Test runs are records that are unlikely to be surpassed for many years. Tendulkar, now 40, enjoys the status of a demigod in India. It is to his credit that he never allowed success to go to his head at any point during his illustrious career, staying away from needless controversies. His image remains impeccable, both on and off the field, a rare feat in an age when the game of cricket has been dogged by scandals. Tendulkar’s success has inspired a generation of talented players including Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan.
It is true that his cricketing skills did not quite translate into leadership qualities and that he enjoyed only moderate success as team captain of India. Moreover, he struggled for form in recent years, which led to calls for his retirement so that new players could be inducted. These shortcomings notwithstanding, Tendulkar has always attempted to give his best to the Indian team each time he walked onto the field — this fact alone speaks volumes for both his playing skills and his integrity. His best moments have included his contribution to India’s 2011 World Cup triumph. The game of cricket will surely be the poorer without Sachin Tendulkar.