Year – 2012
Location – Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, India
Event – Retirement of Sachin Tendulkar
Known as the ‘Little Master’, India’s most celebrated cricketer is today regarded as the greatest batsmen ever.
Born Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar on 24 April, 1973 to his parents Ramesh and Rajni Tendulkar, the youngster at first had a troubled childhood often bullying children in his school and regularly getting himself into fights. His father, who was a well-known Marathi novelist, decided to take his son to see Ramakant Achrekar, a famous cricket coach and a club cricketer of repute, at Shivaji Park, Dadar. Initially unimpressed by the mischievous youngster’s attitude and weak cricketing skill, after several more trials, Achrekar witnessed a dramatic improvement by Tendulkar and advised him to shift his schooling to Sharadashram Vidyamandir (English) High School, a school at Dadar which had a dominant cricket team and had produced many notable cricketers in the past. At the school, Tendulkar instantly became a hit with his fellow students and stepped up his training at the nets resulting in a huge improvement in his batting. Within the domestic cricketing circles, Tendulkar was now being talked about by the national team who were closely keeping tabs on his development.
On 14 November 1987, Tendulkar was selected to represent Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy, India’s premier domestic First-class cricket tournament, for the 1987–88 season. However, he was not selected for the final eleven in any of the matches, though he was often used as a substitute fielder.
Tendulkar made his Test debut against Pakistan in Karachi in November 1989 aged just 16 years and 205 days. He made just 15 runs, being bowled by Waqar Younis, who also made his debut in that match, but was noted for how he handled numerous blows to his body at the hands of the Pakistani ferocious pace attack. The world took notice not specifically for his cricketing skills but for the young age in which he made his international debut. The series was followed by a tour of New Zealand in which he scored 117 runs at an average of 29.25 in Tests including an innings of 88 in the second Test. On his next tour, to England in July–August 1990, he became the second youngest cricketer to score a Test century as he made 119 not out in the second Test at Old Trafford in Manchester. Wisden Cricketers’ Almanac (known as the ‘Bible of Cricket’) described his innings as “a disciplined display of immense maturity” and also wrote:
‘He looked the embodiment of India’s famous opener, Gavaskar, and indeed was wearing a pair of his pads. While he displayed a full repertoire of strokes in compiling his maiden Test hundred, most remarkable were his off-side shots from the back foot. Though only 5ft 5in tall, he was still able to control without difficulty short deliveries from the English pacemen.’
In 1992, at the age of 19, Tendulkar became the first overseas-born player to represent Yorkshire, which prior to Tendulkar joining the team, never selected players even from other English counties. He was selected for Yorkshire as a replacement for the injured Australian fast bowler Craig McDermott and played 16 first-class matches for the county and scored 1070 runs at an average of 46.52. Dominating bowlers from all around the world for the next two awe-inspiring decades, Tendulkar ultimately played 200 Test matches scoring an unparalleled 15,921 runs along the way at an average of 53.79. He scored 51 centuries and 68 half centuries making him the highest scoring batsman of all-time.
In 2013, Tendulkar announced to the world that he would retire from all forms of cricket after the two-Test series against West Indies in November. Later the BCCI confirmed that the two matches will be played at Kolkata and Mumbai, making the farewell happen at his home ground on Tendulkar’s request. He scored 74 runs in his last Test innings against West Indies, thus failing short by 79 runs to complete the unimaginable 16,000 runs in Test cricket. The cricketing world finally said farewell to the little master and is today regarded as the greatest batsmen to ever play the game.