It seemed he was born to play Cricket. It seemed the game was invented for him. To many, he WAS the game!
His achievements are nothing short of extraordinary. Many saw them simply as bench marks for other players. When he played, a billion hearts skipped a beat, so as to not waste a single moment by not watching him play.
He was someone who could do no wrong. Rarely has anyone inspired a generation - nay, generation(s).
His fans were ever so demanding, ever so belligerent. Anything less than perfection was simply not acceptable to them. They alleviated him to a divine stature so much so that even a minute human error or a bad day at the office caused immeasurable grief to them!
If imitation is the best form of flattery, then surely one won’t be surprised to find his namesake at every turn and corner. Since he gets tremendous respect from colleagues, seniors and rivals alike, this is but a small show of appreciation.
Perhaps one of the lowest points in a career of highs was the forgettable Sri Lankan tour of 2009! India needed a team. India needed him. He, though a “God”, was only human! He was unable to deliver - a rarity for him! And his failure exposed the failures of others. He had worked hard his entire life to be dependable and he had been… always! But his capability made the others lazy and that’s what that fateful tour exposed!
Talking about his statistics and his records are like talking about a man who ‘could’ have done better. But no one can beat him. No one can better him. So talking about numbers is pointless.
It wasn’t just his stats and style of play that endeared him to one and all. It was his persona, his overall demeanour. He avoided publicity and kept to himself. He lived a quiet and peaceful life. He embraced humility. His charisma made him the son, the friend, the neighbour, we could all have or could become ourselves!
Perhaps that’s what still keeps him in a billion hearts. Perhaps that’s what still provides a faint hope… that someday, somewhere, we might still see him play again!
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