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Sachin Tendulkar The news of Sachin's ODI retirement ranks among the top most things that can ruin a perfect Sunday morning. It did just that. The heart sank, the eyes moistened and hope, for a minute, was fighting a losing battle. 

Yes, it had to happen. It was required. Some, if not all, actually called for this. But as always, when things like this actually happen, the wisdom of humans is called to question. Since when do we know what we want? I wanted this, but in a most oxy'moron'ic way I didn't want it too.

For longer than I can remember, Indian cricket has been synonymous with Sachin Tendulkar. From the stadiums and maidans in India, to the nooks and crannies where every child picks up a stick and pretends to play the lofted straight drive for six, Sachin has inspired. As a kid, every inning began with the outward bending of knees, pretending to adjust the abdomen guard, a tap on the top of the handle to adjust the grip (even though there was no grip) and a Sachin stance taken. In gully cricket, as crude as it seems, cricket was identified by his mannerisms. Over the years, as he went about scoring runs, everything about him became cricket.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to watch Sachin practice from not too far off. A lot has been written about his work ethic and the amount of effort he puts in. But to witness the man at work is to be part of a legend. Hence, I had mentioned in an earlier article he will come out of his Test slump eventually. When he bats in the nets, he believes every ball is under his command. This fact is evident in the way he opens the face of his bat after the ball has taken the edge. It just shows while batting, he believes the bowler cannot win against him. It could be perceived as arrogance and it has too.

So much has been said about his selfishness as a batsman. Sometimes when you love something as much as he loves batting, one tends to become a little selfish. But the smiles and the breathtaking moments he brought with his drives supercede every moment of him holding on to what he loves the most. However in his retirement, I loathe this bit of selfishness. Without a final match, without a warning, he went ahead and broke hearts. Everyone knew it was coming, but...

Show me one more drive; show me one more stroke
With number 10 on thy back, one more gasp evoke.
Play for a billion people; play for a brilliant game
'Cause the end we hate. With cricket never the same.

A humble request to him would be to sound a final warning before retiring from Tests. Allow us to prepare for the heartache that ensues. Allow us to remember a final inning. Let us discover our religion a final time. For if there is no God, there can be no religion.

The next generation brings with it an aggressive punch in the air and an abuse blurted out. It's not something cricket on the streets should be filled with. Not something that brings joy and laughter. Who will inspire the next generation other than the lure of money? Of course, someone will step up. But will that someone be as dominating on the field and yet as genial at the same time?

Cricket will still remain India's favourite sport. But with the high-handedness of the BCCI, other sports finding heroes and Sachin retiring, perhaps it won't be as fondly received.

For months, his retirement has been debated. I too wrote he should have retired a long while back. Maybe the perfect time was after the World Cup or maybe it was now. Perhaps there never was a perfect time for something like this. Because though his retirement is supposedly a little late......it still seems a bit too early.



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