Sachin Tendulkar, the man who is to Indian cricket what Babe Ruth is to baseball, says he'll retire in November after his 200th test match, ending a more than two-decade-long career in which he broke many of the sport's batting records.
"All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India. I have been living this dream every day for the last 24 years," Tendulkar said in a statement Thursday. "It's hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because it's all I have ever done since I was 11 years old. It's been a huge honor to have represented my country and played all over the world. I look forward to playing my 200th Test Match on home soil, as I call it a day."
The announcement, which was expected, marks the end of an era for Indian cricket. Tendulkar, along with the West Indies' Brian Lara, entertained the sport's fans with his batting prowess through much of the 1990s and 2000s. And though his powers waned slightly, his zeal for the game and his fans' enthusiasm for him did not.
For an excellent summary of Tendulkar's 24-year career, visit ESPNCricinfo. In this video, the website also chronicles why Tendulkar is so beloved in the cricketing world:
Tendulkar, now 40, made his debut in 1989 against India's arch rival, Pakistan, as a 16 year old. He quickly impressed opponents as well as fans and never looked back. He spent much of the next decade dominating opposing teams and winning the respect of his rivals.
Two-Way readers might recall that Tendulkar isn't a stranger to this blog. Two years ago, he became the first man to score a double century in a one-day international. As Mark Memmott noted at the time, that's like "Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile mark. Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points in an NBA game. Or maybe Don Larsen throwing a perfect game in the 1956 World Series."
More recently, Tendulkar became a member of India's upper house of Parliament, appointed to one of a dozen seats reserved for "people who distinguish themselves in the fields of arts, science or social service."
Tendulkar came to the international sport when India was a cricketing backwater and its team's performances were mostly poor. For many years, he single-handedly propped up the team — and the nation — with his performances.
India's 1 billion people expected Tendulkar to succeed each time he stepped out onto the cricket field. It's astonishing how often he did.
His contribution to the Indian cricket can be summed up by one quote from teammate Virat Kohli. India had just won cricket's 2012 World Cup, and the team hoisted up Tendulkar and carried him around the ground.
"He's carried the burden of the nation for 21 years," Kohli said. "It is time we carried him on our shoulders."