Former batting great and chief selector Gundappa Vishwanath pays rich tributes to the little master, who is still going strong after successfully enthralling the crowd for past two decades.
The first time I saw Sachin Tendulkar was during the Indian team's nets in Mumbai where he was one among a bunch of schoolboys who had come to give practice to the players during the nets.
During that time a few of our senior players mentioned to me about his feats in schools cricket. When I ultimately saw him bat I should say I was very much impressed with his commitment and keenness and I had no doubt in my mind that he would one day play for the country.
He looked very sound in defence and had the right body balance when he played his shots. The first thing that came to my mind was that he is 'such a complete cricketer' and showed glimpses of Sunil Gavaskar even at a very young age. He was certainly very promising and had impressed one and all with his eagerness to learn and learn fast.
Many a time when you see a budding cricketer, you will either be impressed with his batting or bowling but here was a lad who not only had fine batting technique but was also able to bowl variety of balls and field like a champion, the testimony I would like to point out about his fielding ability is the last catch he took to dismiss one of the Aussie batsmen after they had amassed 350 runs in the Mohali One-Dayer recently.
Despite his vast contributions to world cricket in general and Indian cricket in particular, he has remained a humble person and probably this virtue of his is his biggest asset. So when some of the so called critics blame him for the team's failure, it really hurts me because even after representing the country for 20 years, his passion for the sport has not decreased and in fact his involvement to the game has only increased since he started playing international cricket.
So it is very rare to find this kind of commitment, I would like to suggest to one and all to leave Sachin alone and let him decide when it is time for him to go. Right now I don't even want to think about the end because the passion and form he is in only makes me believe that he will continue to play for many more years to come.
I won't be one bit surprised if he gets 40,000 runs in international cricket (both Tests and One-Dayers) simply because he deserves it.
To me he is a complete cricketer and a living legend. Cricketers like him are born once in a while and I feel all of us are fortunate to have seen him in action.
(As told to V Veera Kumar)