It is unsurprising that Sachin Tendulkar’s career has produced some of the best cricket writing around. His achievements and his conduct alone lend themselves to poetic expression. Add his singular, emotional connection to Indian cricket fans and Tendulkar is a subject a writer can explore in a myriad of ways.
We have collected some of our favourite pieces on Tendulkar over the years, pieces which we think provide an insight into the man, his journey and our relationship with him.
Harsha Bhogle met a 15-year-old Tendulkar when the hype was just beginning. In a story told in the now closed SportsWorld magazine, he found a charming school boy completely obsessed with cricket and already showing signs of the greatness to come:Quite often, he is playing all day; important because it has helped him build the stamina to play long innings. "I don't get tired," he says, referring to them. "If you practise every day, you get used to it."
… Isn't there a lot of pressure on him now? Everyone assumes he will get a big score? "Only in the beginning. Till I get set. Once I get set, I don't think of anything."
After Donald Bradman made his famous comment that Tendulkar resembled himself the most, historian Ramachandra Guha took on the task of actually comparing the two batsmen in India Today.
Sachin is to Bradman as Krishna was to Vishnu, as close to the real thing as exists in this imperfect world. But those who will never see the Lord can do worse than follow his avatar.
Rohit Brijnath, one of India’s best sportswriters, takes us into the world of Tendulkar, the star, in a wonderfully nuanced piece in The Age that does much to revealTendulkar’s inner motivations.
Understand, it's not you whose standards he's worried about living up to, it's that man's
"My father was an amazing person. He never lost his temper, never ever shouted at me," he says, his quiet voice even quieter.
His father spoke to him about conduct, about the value about being good people, and the son looked up and saw the man he wanted to be. "I always felt if I could be half of what he is ... I'd be a very good person in life."
The late Peter Roebuck had the privilege of watching each of Tendulkar’s 11 hundreds against Australia, the best team in the world for most of Tendulkar’s career. The Sydney Morning Herald has collated Roebuck’s stories about each of those innings. He had this to say about the unbeaten 241 at the SCG that was a masterclass in denial and discipline.
Tendulkar's innings counts amongst the most fascinating of his career. The sight of a great player whose touch has deserted him putting his head down to build a score gave immense satisfaction. Hitherto the Australians have been able to frustrate him into trying to drive deliveries better left alone. Now Tendulkar restricted himself to shots played with the full blade and close to the body. Perhaps it was a New Year's resolution.
Tendulkar hasn’t made a Test century in almost three years. The last one was doozy though. At Newlands in South Africa, Tendulkar first resisted, then defied a rampant Dale Steyn. Sidharth Monga broke down the battle between greats at the height of their powers on ESPNcricinfo.
Of the 66 balls from hell that Steyn bowled in those two spells, which went for 13 runs and took two wickets, Tendulkar negotiated 48. In that mix of some masterful defending, some luck (he could not have survived that without luck), and huge responsibility, is the difference between India's being even and being woefully behind by the end of the third day.
In ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Wright Thompson, explored what Tendulkar means to a nation during the 2011 World Cup in an epic story running to 10,000 words. He also raises the question fans everywhere are now forced to deal with:
He's a national treasure.
Now his career is nearing its end, and fans are left with beautiful memories, to be sure, but also questions.
What does Sachin's retirement mean for cricket?
What does it mean for India?
When Tendulkar announced his retirement form one-day cricket, Siddhartha Vaidyanathan explained on ESPNcricinfo how Tendulkar helped a generation of Indians make sense of their lives.
You switch jobs. You like your new role but your boss sucks. He is a slave-driver. You take sly peeks at a live scorecard tab that is open at your desktop as India chase Australia's 351 at Hyderabad. Tendulkar is flying but there is no TV. You wish you could get back home but what if he gets out when you are on your way? Would you be able to forgive yourself? India lose. You call out sick the next day.
And finally, on Starsports.com, Deepak Narayanan tells us what we don't want to hear:
It’ll sink in when India play South Africa. It’ll sink in when the second wicket falls and Sachin doesn’t walk out to bat. It’ll sink in when, instead of a familiar roar when the number 4 walks in, we’ll hear an unnatural silence.
Because that is the essence of Sachin, the stuff you want to bottle and preserve – the buzz as you watched him walk to the middle, the jangling nerves as he took guard, the audible “uff” in the stands as he leant regally into another straight drive.