After the lap of honour at the near-capacity Wankhede, Sachin Tendulkar broke free from the cordon, and walked to the pitch. When he reached, he bent down, put his hands on the earth and then touched his heart. He later explained that the cricket pitch is like a mother to him and he knew he would not bat on a Test wicket again. It was a moment of reverence, of emotion, a separation from a bond nurtured over a lifetime. Tendulkar’s retirement was a national event with every camera and eyeball fixed on him those days, but during that one act, he carved out a personal space amidst all the frenzy. A touching goodbye to the pitch where he lived his dream and also that of a nation.
Murray does it, finally
When it did finally happen, there was a sense of relief — not just for one man but an entire nation. After a successful 2012, Andy Murray broke one of the biggest hoodoos in sport by ending Britain’s 77-year wait to become the first male to win the Wimbledon title this year, beating the then World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets. The satisfaction and sheer joy on the Scot’s face was palpable.
How does the story of the first double amputee athlete to compete in Olympics go on from being inspiration to a murder mystery? On the cold morning of Valetnine’s Day, South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius allegedly shot his girl friend Reeva Steenkamp dead in Pretoria. She was found dead in the bathroom with bullet wounds. Oscar says he mistook her to be an intruder. Police cry murder. The case is on.
Two days after Tendulkar played his last Test, Mumbai’s Prithvi Shaw was labelled the next Sachin. And why not, for his achievement was beyond imagination. The 15-year-old entered records books scoring 546 in a Harris Shield game. It is the third highest score going by all the registered scorecards available worldwide.
Amidst all the hullabaloo over the English and Spanish league, it was Bayern Munich who kept the fabled German consistency going with their astounding treble. The Bundesliga, German Cup and the UEFA Champions League trophies now sit pretty in the office of the Munich club. The team has a registered fan club in India. And surely in that corner of the country, this was celebrated.
World at sindhu’s feet
While Indian badminton was obsessed with Saina Nehwal’s show on the field (and Jwala Gutta’s off it), an 18-year-old Hyderabad girl went on to become the first Indian female to win a singles medal at the World Championships. PV Sindhu was the toast of 2013 in many ways, for she also broke into the top-10. Now, India’s not just about Saina and Sania as far as sportswomen are concerned.
Champions one last time
Before departing to England, India’s press conference was quite a scene. MS Dhoni faced questions on IPL spot-fixing, and hardly any on the Champions Trophy. And as Dhoni most often does, he merely grinned. Maybe, the grin signified confidence, as the Men in Blue went on to bag the final edition of the ‘mini World Cup’ being undefeated.
If you don’t see bowlers with towels tucked in trousers anymore, blame it on S Sreesanth. The harmless piece of cloth was allegedly used by the pacer as a signal to the bookies during IPL-6. Kerala’s maverick athlete has since has been slapped with life ban for spot-fixing. Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila too have been punished and a horde of bookies arrested. Cricketers now blame Sree for sweaty days.
Dhawan’s Dabangg act
Indians fans did not miss Virender Sehwag, not least on that day. Shikhar Dhawan produced one of the most swashbuckling innings to hit the fastest ton on debut against a hapless Aussie attack that could just stand, watch and admire. He finished with 187, and has since gone on to score many a century this year in the shorter format, but that one knock stamped his arrival in world cricket, along with his moustache.
Fall of the legend
An inspiration, a champion survivor, author of one of the most amazing book on sports and life. And what a let down. Seven straight Tour de France title winning cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs and was stripped of his titles. The survivor of testicular cancer continues with his fund-raising activities. The America’s global hero proved that at the end of the day, it wasn’t about his bike after all.
Goodbye, Sir Alex
So United fans, how does life feel without Sir Alex? In one of the most shocking retirements of the year (Graeme Swann can wait), Sir Alex Ferguson ended his 26-year-old love affair with Manchester United to hang up his boots in May. More than his 13 English League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions League trophies whilst at Old Trafford, the world would miss some of his oh-so-memorable quotes. Have you grabbed his autobiography yet?
Jacques in the box
The South African will possibly be one of those greats who will be unsung in their lifetime. Or hopefully, not. As he puts his white flannels away permanently after the ongoing Durban Test, there would be or at least there should be a debate on whether he is the greatest all-rounder. We have had enough of Bradman vs Tendulkar, Lara vs Tendulkar etc, there is room for more debates and Kallis surely deserves it.
Bale’s €100mn bonanza
Real Madrid, known as the ‘Galacticos’ in the footballing world, broke their bank once again this summer. This time for 26-year-old Welshman, Gareth Bale who’d lit up the Premier League on fire. And boy did they do it in style. Signed from Tottenham Hotspurs for a staggering 100 million euros, the winger pipped Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer fee by six million euros.