?Sachin Tendulkar may have retired from gracing those 22 yards for 24 years, but he hasn’t retired from the 28-, 32- or 42-inch screens. Sachin...Sachin is still in full flow on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 2, Star Sports 3, Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD1 and Star Sports HD2. Yes, you better “believe” your luck, as Dhoni does in the brand’s promo: now you have so many more channels on which to follow India’s greatest run machine.
And what a run-fest it has been, my country women — and men, of course. Over 34,000 of them and counting. YouTube, other digital platforms and television in particular offer us a huge advantage inasmuch as we can continue to enjoy watching the little master score some of those glorious runs in the habitual reruns on the sports channels. We will still hear the crowds salute him, not merely with “Sachin, Sachin”, but with roars and a hearty round of applause that will reverberate in our ears for the rest of our lives, too.
Already, shows such as Jai Ho! (Star Sports) celebrate great victories in Indian cricket, including some of Sachin’s finest moments. There’s every chance a “Jai Tendulkar” will be up next. That’s after the tributes on Sachin...Sachin by top players like Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Rameez Raja and Wasim Akram, to name the most frequent panellists on the series masterminded by Harsha Bhogle, have ceased. In fact, an entire sports channel could be devoted to simply Sachin. Imagine reliving those 100 hundreds.
It’s been said already by many but bears repetition in a column devoted to the tube: television has contributed greatly to the legend of Sachin Tendulkar, superstar, and Sachin has contributed immeasurably to television’s obsession with cricket in India. Economic liberalisation and growing middle-class prosperity could not have fuelled the public’s, sponsors’ and TV channels’ love affair with cricket if India had continued to lose games. It was when winning became a habit (at least at home) during the Sachin era that everyone fell in love with the game, some of them
all over again.
Be it a 14-inch B/W screen in the early 1990s or the plasma 60-inch of today, once satellite television invaded Indian airspace, we could watch Sachin & Co wherever they went. We watched them live, in replays, and caught highlights of matches from Australia and the West Indies to South Africa — something that had been missing from our earlier television experience of cricket.
Many, many of us have been there, seen that — who can forget the Sharjah storm, to name just one memorable ODI series? Or the knock versus Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup, South Africa? That upper-cut off Shoaib Akhtar, surely Muhammad Ali could not have conjured up a more stinging blow in the boxing ring.
Watching everything about him at the Wankhede stadium in the last week was heartwarming: his last magical wave of the willow, his moving speech. Till then, he had let his bat do the talking for him but now his words were eloquence itself — the lap of honour on Dhoni’s and Kohli’s shoulders and his press conference on Sunday as Sachin Tendulkar, Bharat Ratna, brought tears to his eyes, and ours. Each of those performances was as good as one of his memorable straight drives (another name for a show on him?).
Doordarshan’s inability to telecast Tendulkar’s final game is one more reason to not watch its channels. Rules of coverage under the Sports Broadcasting Act allow only matches of national importance to be telecast by the public broadcaster. If the UPA government can honour Tendulkar with the nation’s highest award, surely it could allow DD telecast rights in this exceptional case?
We will miss Sachin Tendulkar perhaps as much as he will miss the game of cricket, but take heart: we will still be able to find him out there on the cricket field, doing what he did best. So what if it is only in a replay?