The maestro bids cricket an emotional and passionate adieu
By Shirin Sadikot
Mumbai 16 November 2013
All my friends, settle down let me talk, I'll get more and more emotional.
My life between 22 yards in the 24 years, it's hard to believe that it's coming to an end. I would like to thank all the people who have helped me in my life to get here. I have a list in my hand, please forgive me if I miss out on a few names.
First, the most important person in my life, my father. He passed away in 1999. He was key for my career. He gave me freedom at the age of 11 and told me, ‘chase your dreams and don't find shortcuts’. He also told me to be a nice human being, which I am still trying my best to be.
My mother, I don't know how she dealt with a naughty child like me. She took care of me to be healthy. She started praying for me even before I started my career and I think those prayers gave my strength.
In my school days, I used to stay with my uncle and aunt as my school was far away. They treated me like their son. When after a hard day’s cricket, I went home, I was half asleep. My aunt fed me so that I could go and play the next day.
My eldest brother, Nitin. He doesn’t like to talk much but he used to tell me, ‘I know you'd do everything right and I have the confidence in you’. My sister, she gave me my first bat. A Kashmir Willow bat. She continues to fast when I bat.
Ajit, I don't know what I should say about him. We have lived this dream together. It all started from the age of 11, when he took me to Achrekar sir my coach. He saw a spark in me and sacrificed his career for mine. And my life changed. Even last night, he called me and we were discussing my dismissal. We’ve had so many discussions and arguments. Various things we agreed upon and at times, when he said something about my technique, I didn’t agree with him. If I had not done that, I would have been a lesser cricketer.
The most important thing happened to me in 1990 when I met my wife Anjali. I knew she was a doctor and had a wonderful career ahead of her. But when we decided to make a family, she said, ‘you continue with your cricket and I'll take care of the family’. Without that I think I couldn't have played so much cricket. Thank you for bearing with my fuss, frustration and all the nonsense I have said over the years. This is the best partnership I've had in my life.
Then Sara and Arjun – the two precious diamonds in my life. My daughter is 16 and son is 14, time has flown by. I wasn't able to be with them for the birthdays, annual days and sports days. Thanks for understanding all that, both of you have been so special to me. I've not spent enough time with you but I promise you the next 16 years or even more, are all for you.
My in-laws have been supporting. I discuss various things with them, we have a strong family and I thank you for allowing me to marry Anjali. My career started at 11. My brother took me to Achrekar sir and that is the best thing to have happened to me. Sir would be taking me on his scooter all over Mumbai, from Shivaji Park to Azad Maidan to ensure that I get enough match practice.
On a lighter note, he's never said ‘well played’ to me so that I don't get complacent. Sir, you can push your luck now that I don’t have any more matches to play.
In the last 24 yrs, I made new friends, before that I had friends from childhood. Whenever I have called them to bowl to me on nets, they have left all their work aside to be with me. Even when I was injured, they were beside me. That’s when my friends have woken up at 3 in the morning just to make me believe that my career is not over yet. Life would have been incomplete without them. Thanks for being there.
My cricket started right here at this ground for Mumbai. I remember once landing from New Zealand at 4 am and playing a Ranji Trophy match at 8 am. It wasn’t that anyone forced me to do so. I played because of my love for Mumbai Cricket. The Mumbai Cricket Association has been very supportive.
The dream was obviously to play for India. BCCI was fantastic, they believed in me at the age of 16 years and selected me. Thanks for the support and the freedom to express myself in the middle. Whenever I was injured, the BCCI ensured all my treatments are taken care of so I could be fit and play again.
I have played with many senior cricketers, thanks to everyone for helping me out. I see Rahul (Dravid), VVS (Laxman) and Sourav (Ganguly) on the big screen. Also, Anil (Kumble) who is not here, and my teammates. You guys are like my family. It is going to be difficult without that dressing room, sharing those special moments.
When Dhoni gave me the 200th Test cap, I just said, we are all proud to be here as a team and I believe that you guys will continue to represent this country in the right spirit to the best of our abilities. I believe in you and all the best for your future.
I would be failing in my duty if I didn’t thank all the doctors, physios, without whose special efforts, I couldn't have been fit. I don't know how you all kept me in good shape.
My dear friend, late Mark Mascerenhas, my first manager. We lost him in a car accident in 2002. He was very passionate about my game and importantly about Indian Cricket. He ensured my cricket never suffered because of the shoots and other commitments with the sponsors.
Without him I couldn't have achieved all this. I miss you. My current manager Vinod Naidu, he's more like my family. He's given me so much time, leaving his family to do my work.
In the school days when I played well, the media backed me a lot. You've been doing that till now. Thank you to all of you, all those photographers who captured those wonderful moments that will remain with me.
I thank all the people here who have traveled from different parts of the world to just watch me. You people have always supported me whether I scored a 0 or a 100. I've met a lot of people who fast for me, pray for me and do all sorts of things for me. I thank you for all that you've done.
Especially the 'Sachinnnn... Sachin.' Chants. It will reverberate in my ears until my last breath. Thank you very much. I am sorry if I have missed out on anything. Good bye.