Thank you, Sachin

All good things come to an end, they say. And they are right. I will wake up tomorrow to watch Sachin Tendulkar bat for the last time in his career.

Greatness stays on however. In the minds of those who witness it, in the actions of those who are inspired by it, in the lives of those who can appreciate it. And that is some consolation.

I have never known cricket without Sachin and I don’t intend to follow it any more after he retires. When I started watching cricket, it was already very popular. And it has only grown more popular over the years. Not surprisingly, the increase in popularity has been achieved at the cost of reducing standards to the lowest common denominator. And that denominator is now too low for me to retain my interest. All these years, Sachin has been the one redeeming factor in a game that has progressively become faster, shorter and mindless. There is a thrill in speed, instant gratification in brevity, and an escape in mindlessness. But they don’t compare to the beauty in leisure, the substance in length, and the art in mindfulness. And Sachin is perhaps the last batsman to embody those values today. In the foreseeable future, there will not be another Sachin. What a pity!

There is nothing much that I can add to what I wrote last time about Sachin, so I will just quote myself verbatim:

“Poetry,” wrote Aristotle, “is a more philosophical and a higher thing than history: for poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular.”

A similar argument may be made for sport. Sport reduces life to its essentials and expresses its fundamentals in their purest form. Just as poetry expresses the universal through particular characters, sport expresses fundamentals through the actions of individual sportsmen. But unlike the characters in poetry, who are after all, mere figments of the poet’s imagination, the sportsmen are real. Sport then, is likely to fall short of poetry in its power to inspire, to embody the values of life. Perfection and purity is easier to achieve in poetry than in the life of a sportsman.

But once in a while, a sportsman comes along to prove that the difficult is not impossible, that a single-minded dedication can be maintained, that ability can be turned into excellence, that consistency can triumph over uncertainty. And such a sportsman transcends the sport, lends it meaning, makes it real.

Sachin Tendulkar is such a sportsman, and I am fortunate to have grown up at a time when my values could be shaped and sustained by the example of his greatness.

Thank you Sachin!

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