teary-eyed Sachin Tendulkar on Saturday brought the curtains down on his phenomenal career by giving a heart-warming speech to thank his family, coaches, teammates, friends and fans, saying it was hard to believe that his life between “22 yards in the last 24 years” has come to end.
Trying hard to control his emotions, Tendulkar had the Wankhede crowd spell-bound with a thanks-giving speech every word of which drew applause.
“Friends please settle down, I’ll get more emotional! It’s hard to believe my wonderful journey is coming to an end,” Tendulkar said immediately after his 200th and final Test which India won by an innings and 126 runs.
Handed the microphone at the end of the presentation ceremony, the 40-year-old struggled to keep his composure as he took out a list of people to thank at the end of a remarkable journey.
“I have got a list of people to thank because sometimes I forget,” he joked.
“The first is my father ( Ramesh Tendulkar), who passed away in 1999. Without his guidance I wouldn’t be standing in front of you. He said ‘chase your dreams, don’t give up, the path will be difficult.’ I miss him today,” said Tendulkar, who always looked heavenwards after every big knock in memory of his father.
Next in the list was his mother Rajni, who came to watch him for the first time in his farewell match and the other immediate family members.
“I don’t know how she managed a naughty child like me. She just prayed and prayed from the day I started playing the game. For four years I stayed with my uncle and aunt when in school, they treated me like their own son,” he said.
“My eldest brother Nitin doesn’t like to talk much but he said, ‘whatever you do, I know you will give 100 per cent’. My first cricket bat was presented to me by my sister Savita. It was a Kashmir willow. She still continues to fast while I bat,” he said.
“Ajit my brother, we have lived this dream together. He sacrificed his career for me, he took me to (Ramakant) Achrekar sir first. Even last night he called me to discuss my dismissal. Even when I’m not playing we will still be discussing technique. If that hadn’t happened, I would have been a lesser cricketer,” he added.
Tendulkar then thanked wife Anjali for being the best partner that life could have given him.
“The most beautiful thing happened to me when I met Anjali in 1990. I know that being a doctor there was a big career in front of her. When we had a family, she decided that I should continue playing and she took care of the children. Thanks for bearing with me for all the nonsense I’ve said. You are the best partnership that I had in my life,” Tendulkar said as an emotionally-overwhelmed Anjali cried in the presentation area.
Tendulkar’s two kids, son Arjun (14) and daughter Sara (16), were also present at the ceremony and Tendulkar promised them a lion’s share of his time now as reward for being patient when he missed their special days for cricket.
“The two precious diamonds of my life Sara and Arjun. I’ve missed out on several birthdays, holidays, annual days. I know for 14-16 years I’ve not spent enough time with you. But I promise you that the next 16 and the many more after that are yours,” he said.
Tendulkar also thanked his in-laws for, most importantly for letting him marry Anjali! He also did not forget to thank his friends but didn’t name anyone in particular.
“My in-laws – I’ve discussed several things with them. The most important thing they did was to allow me to marry Anjali. So, thank you for that,” he said, lightening the heavy atmosphere surrounding his farewell.
“In the last 24 years my friends have made terrific contributions. They have been with me while I was stressed. They have been with me even at 3am when I was injured. Thanks for being there for me,” he said.
Not to forget his first coach Ramakant Achrekar, who came down to the stadium for the first time to watch him in action, and the BCCI for supporting him.
“My career started when I was 11. I was extremely delighted to see Achrekar sir in the stands. I used to ride on his scooter and play two matches a day. Sir took me along to make sure I played. On a lighter note, Sir never said ‘well played’ because he didn’t want me to be complacent. You can push your luck now, Sir, since I’m not playing cricket anymore,” he joked.
“The BCCI was fantastic from my debut. Thanks to the selectors. You were right with me making sure my treatment was taken care of,” Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar also thanked his fellow cricketers and the support staff, especially the doctors and trainers.
“Thanks to all the senior cricketers who have played with me. We see on the screen Rahul (Dravid), VVS (Laxman), Sourav (Ganguly), Anil (Kumble) who is not here. All the coaches,” he said.
“I know when MS (Dhoni) presented the 200th Test cap, I had a message to the team – I said ‘we are all so proud to be representing the nation. I hope to continue to serve the nation with dignity. I have full faith that you will serve the country in the right spirit’.
“I will be failing in my duty if I didn’t thank the doctors who have kept me fit. Given the injuries I have suffered. They have treated me in odd hours,” he said.
“My dear friend the late Mark Mascarenhas. I miss him. My current management team WSG, for continuing what Mark has done. Someone who has worked closely with me for 14 years is my friend Vinay Nayudu,” he added.
“The media has backed me a lot, since my school days. Even today. Thank you. Thanks to the photographers for capturing those moments.”
In the end, Tendulkar thanked the millions of adoring fans by saying that the chants of ‘Sachin, Sachin’ that resonated in the stadiums would remain with him till the last moment of his life.
“I know my speech has become long. I want to thank people who have flown in from different parts of the world here. I want to thank my fans from the bottom of my heart. ‘Sachin, Sachin’ will reverberate in my ears till I stop breathing,” he said, drawing a deafening applause from the crowd.