“God Bye” screamed the front page of India’s largest selling newspaper yesterday, reflecting the depressive mood of the cricket-crazy country after its favorite son, Sachin Tendulkar, announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.
The Times of India dedicated four more pages to the world’s most prolific international run-scorer, who announced on Thursday that he will retire after playing his 200th Test match at home against West Indies next month.
The diminutive batsman, now 40, has been the face of Indian cricket since he burst onto the international scene as a 16-year-old curly-haired boy against arch-rivals Pakistan in a Karachi Test.
After 24 years, more than 34,000 international runs and a century of international hundreds, the news of Tendulkar’s parting made the top story on the front page of every publication in the country.
“The Void” was what the Indian Express used on top of a picture of Tendulkar walking out to bat.
The Hindustan Times newspaper said as much in their banner headline “There will never be another you.”
Former Australia captain Steve Waugh said: “He was the Don Bradman of our times” in a 2009 column for the Times of India, which was republished on Thursday.
“Sachin was always a favorite with Australian crowds and had the unreserved respect of Australian cricketers because he possesses many traits that we respect and value among sportsmen,” Waugh wrote. “He was fiercely competitive, never backed off from a contest, never gave up, but was always fair.”
India wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was elevated as the team’s captain on Tendulkar’s recommendation and later spent quite a bit of time chatting to the master batsman, who used to stand beside him at first slip.
Dhoni said he was overawed by Tendulkar’s presence during his debut series in Bangladesh in 2004.
“I couldn’t muster enough courage to speak to Tendulkar, so I would avoid eye contact with him,” Dhoni wrote in a column published in the same newspaper.