By Abhishek Roy
Mumbai: India’s cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, who bid a teary farewell to the sport, Sunday said the 22-yard pitch has been a temple for him and thanked the game for making him whatever he is.
A day after ending his 24-year long illustrious career, Tendulkar said he woke up to a different morning before he realised that he didn’t need to take an early shower and rush to the ground.
“I woke up at 6.50 a.m. I generally get up according to my body clock. But then I realised that I don’t need to take an early shower. So I made some tea for myself and had a lovely breakfast with my wife. Since yesterday I have been getting lot of messages from my friends, so I also responded to them,” said Tendulkar, who was dressed in an Indian team blazer and a tie.
The 40-year-old said the feeling of becoming a retired cricketer hasn’t sunk in yet.
“It hasn’t struck me that I won’t play cricket again. It has been a dream journey, no regret that I am leaving cricket. This was the right time to stop playing cricket. It has been an enjoyable journey,” he said.
Tendulkar also recalled the moment when he went back to the pitch for the last time and touched it, an image that has captured the imagination of the nation.
“I have never done that in my international career. I knew never ever in my life I would get to do it again. Whatever I am today is because of the 22 yards. It is like a temple for me,” he said.
The legend also revealed that he couldn’t control his emotions when he was given a guard of honour by his teammates on the pitch.
“It was an emotional moment for me. I was taking the wicket. It was the thought that I won’t be able to get back to that place was tough,” he said.
Tendulkar also dedicated the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour that was announced for him moments after he retired, to all the mothers of India.
“Yesterday I said that, this award (Bharat Ratna) is for my mother, because of all the sacrifices she made for me. As a child, you don’t understand life.. when you grow up, you realise all these things. It is not just for my mother, but there are millions and millions of mothers in India who sacrifice many things for their children. I would like to share my award with them,” said Tendulkar, adding that he was humbled and honoured for the award.
Tendulkar also congratulated fellow Bharat Ratna awardee, scientist C.N.R.Rao.
“The award belongs to the entire nation, I’d say. At this stage, I would like to congratulate Prof CNR Rao for getting the Bharat Ratna. It is an honour to get the award with him, his contribution to the field of science is immense. It is only that cricket is played in front of thousands of people,” he said.
Asked what was the reaction of his mother, Rajni, when she met him at the end of the match Saturday, Tendulkar said: “When I went to see her in the president’s box, I could see that in her eyes. It was controlled reaction. We spoke through eyes.”
“My mother was extremely happy. I thought she may come, may not. I told the BCCI to keep the match at this ground for her since she has never watched me playing on the ground. But she came despite her health. I also had a room booked for her in the Garware Pavilion,” he added.
Tendulkar also pleaded to the media to not put pressure on his son Arjun, an aspiring cricketer.
“Please. It is a request as a father. Please keep away from him. Let him enjoy the game. It was his choice to pick up the bat. My father was a professor, and you (media) never asked me why I have a bat in my hand and not the pen. Don’t have expectations from him (Arjun),” he said.
Recalling the best moments of his life, Tendulkar said winning the 2011 World Cup and his farewell both at the same venue, the Wankhede Stadium, will be most memorable for him.
“The 2011 World Cup was special. It was a long wait of 22 years. But finally god showed me the day. Yesterday’s was also important for me. The way people responded. I don’t know how to react, just want to say you all a big thank you,” he said, adding that losing the 2003 World Cup final was the most disappointing moment of his life.
Tendulkar said he was still enjoying the game, but his body couln’t cope with the rigours of international cricket anymore.
“I was enjoying cricket still. I have always said the day I felt I should stop playing, I would inform you. I got that feeling, because after 24 years, you have to appreciate… had many injuries, not easy to overcome. You reach a stage when your body gives you a message, enough of this physical load. The body requires rest. The body is not able to take more load consistently,” he said.