Sports writers have a habit of spewing out hyperbole and clichés at the rate of a Mahendra Singh Dhoni innings. Forever in search of the next best thing after sliced bread, nauseas enough to leave you sick as a parrot.
But there are probably not enough superlatives to describe the incredible career of one Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Revered by billions, you couldn’t bet against the little master drawing a crowd at the Arctic Circle.
Carrying the hopes of a tattered nation in its infancy looking to position itself as a superpower, a short young man at the tender age of 16 walked out into the cauldron of a fierce Test match between bitter rivals India and Pakistan in November 1989.
Fast forward to November 2013, that same man still carrying the burden of an entire nation walks out for his emotional final Test. Maybe his political importance is slightly over emphasised, but there are those who believe that he is partly responsible for India’s rise as an economic superpower.
The sheer magnitude of the little master’s influence can’t be done justice through clichés. Seeing him walk out to bat is a “you wouldn’t know unless you were there” moment.
Many will have anecdotes of Tendulkar, especially many in Dewsbury. As Yorkshire CCC’s official Twitter feed noted, from Dewsbury to Delhi they will be saluting the genius, before his final encore against the West Indies.
However for some of us, when Tendulkar was strutting his stuff for Yorkshire we weren’t even potty trained.
But everyone has their Tendulkar memories and mine came in Mumbai at the Wankhede stadium. India were 3-2 up and needed to avoid defeat to win a fiercely fought One Day series against England.
England having batted first put on 250 plus, at the end of the interval I managed a dreaded miss-timed bathroom break that only a 11-year-old could have timed. Those that will have been to the Wankhede around this period in time will know that the toilets are situated right behind the concrete stands. No seating just big slabs of uncomfortable, grey rear-end numbing blocks.
But just as I was leaving the toilets to take up my seat, there was a roar that will forever be etched in my mind and no doubt in the mind of any impressionable 11-year-old on his first ever holiday, bellows of “Sachin, Sachin.”
A universal chorus of acclaim, the concrete underside of the stands shook and as we shuffled to take our spot near the front, the crowd was in a state of delirium.
The irony of this encounter was India would go on to lose this match and Tendulkar only mustered 12 runs. I am reliably informed that he did strike a six though.
But the sheer power of one man to send a crowd into such frenzy stuck with me.
Surely lightning can’t strike twice? Well you could say it did – although not the same cauldron atmosphere of the Wankhede I got to see the little master a second time, at his adopted home of Headingley in 2007 as he once again took England on. This time he put the England bowlers to the sword, India winning under the Duckworth Lewis method due to rain. But it certainly didn’t rain on the little master’s parade.
Despite stiff upper lipped Englishmen dotted around the crowd, he still managed to elicit the sort of noise not many other sportsmen are capable of.
The time has come now though to simply cherish the memories that this diminutive maestro has given Cricket fans across the world, as he will no longer occupy the 22 yards between the wickets.
It’s strange as he has been playing cricket longer than some of us have been alive, but all those who have witnessed this pint sized warrior wield his bat can say we saw one of the, if not greatest Cricketer to ever live.