I still remember the day when I first saw your photograph in the news paper for scoring a century in Ranaji Trophy while playing for Karnataka. That very instant I thought this is the cricketer I must follow. I was so sad when you got out for 96 on Lords while another newcomer Saurav Ganguly scored a magnificent century. That was in fact a trailer of what was going to happen over next 2 decades. Every time you shined there was some other start who performed better than you stealing all the limelight away from you. Tell me how come a batsman doesn’t get man of the match even after scoring 153 in a one dayer? That is because another one scored 180+
There is not doubt that you are one of the finest batsman the world has seen. But more than that at least for me, you belong to a league that made cricket a bit more than just a ball game. It was because of men like you that I would spend my night watching you play for the country despite knowing that my future depended on the next day Math examination. I gave you more priority than my own future and so did countless other kids. Each time you walked on the field the heart would beat harder and each time you got out it would miss a beat.
It might sound stupid to get emotionally involved into what others call just a game. But then it is also stupid to spend those moments in class or in bus just staring at your crush. It is also stupid to preserve those childhood toys even after you are about to get your master’s degree.
Wise people say that the best art is the one in which every individual can find his own meaning. I think the art that you presented as a batsman was one of the finest. If Sachin was Kusumagraj of Cricket then I would say you were the Arun Shourie of cricket. You were not as talented as most. But every stroke you played showed immense labor you must have put behind it. It showed how an ordinary man can achieve extraordinary through his focus and perseverance. If Sachin is Superman of cricket then you were the Batman. That is what inspired me in my life. I never looked at you as a cricketer but an example of how an ordinary man can achieve perfection. How to carry that modesty and humbleness despite achieving success that few will in future. How to still be happy despite the kind of injustice that is done to you from time to time. You were kind of Karma-Yogi.
Today however with your departure from the cricket, it appears as if cricket is just another game which goes down a lot below other items on my priority list.
I just want to give you a big THANK YOU.