Not only India but also the entire world cricket and followers will have to get used to watching a match where Sachin Tendulkar won’t be there. In a 24-year career, he has entertained cricket lovers world over. He has been an inspiration to a lot of cricketers including myself. Not only as a cricketer but I admire him also as a person, more so as a person.
Everyone knows the kind of records he has, his statistics, the 100 hundreds he scored. But as a person, he is a gem. The way he has carried himself both on and off the field for 24 years is exemplary. I must congratulate his parents for the amazing upbringing they gave him – his brothers, his wife, his family – for the sacrifices they have made so that Sachin can actually do what he loved the most, that is playing cricket.
It will be difficult to come to terms that a Test XI will be without Sachin Tendulkar in it. No doubt about that. Sachin Tendulkar is irreplaceable not only for Indian cricket but also for world cricket.
There will never be another Sachin Tendulkar.
When you have played with someone for 16 years, there is an amazing bonding that builds up. I cherish each and every moment I played along with Sachin. He has been a phenomenal team player, colleague. He was my captain when I made my debut for India. The way he encouraged me in my initial years was very very important for my growth. There are a lot of memorable moments, I cannot single out one or two. Also from the knocks he has played for the country, it is very difficult to single out one or two from the hundred international tons he has scored.
When we were on tours or whenever we meet, it is not necessary that we talk about cricket. We discuss other topics. It is amazing the kind of experience he has got. He is so mature. For a 16-year-old playing for India, you can make out how matured he is. I have always looked up to him and have had amazing conversations with him on various subjects, not just on cricket.
I have already missed a lot in the last one year since my retirement. Definitely there is a cricket factor to it. You miss playing cricket. But what you miss more is the camaraderie you share with your colleagues and the dressing room environment. There is no doubt that I will miss a legend, an all-time legend not only in Indian cricket but world cricket. He has been my favourite sportsperson. Will definitely miss watching him in action.
There are some young good youngsters coming up. I was impressed with the way they played against Australia in Tests and also in the ODIs in Champions Trophy and in West Indies. There is potential. Having said that, no one can fill in the shoes of Sachin Tendulkar for a long time. I don’t see anyone filling into his shoes.
—As told to G Krishnan