Continuing with the felicitations lined up for the retiring Sachin Tendulkar, the Mumbai Cricket Association on Monday honoured the iconic Indian batsman ahead of his 200th and final Test by naming its Kandivili Ground after him in the presence of host political bigwigs.
The 40-year-old veteran, who would be retiring after the second and final Test against the West Indies in Mumbai from Thursday, was given a fresh round of applause by the MCA ahead of what is turning out to be an epic curtain call.
“I appreciate not just this evening but the last 24 years,” said a beaming Tendulkar when he took the stage amid loud cheering and applause by the attendees, including his teammates and visiting West Indian team.
“It felt special to read my name on the entry of the (MCA) club. It feels good as I am not used to it. I didn’t expect this. It was a humble experience. I thank MCA for this kind gesture,” he said, referring to the renamed Sachin Tendulkar Gymkhana Club.
Tendulkar used the occasion to express his gratitude towards MCA for making its facilities available to him whenever he asked for it.
“I want to thank the MCA for making the nets available for me at any time I wanted. I just needed to make a phone call to get it,” he said.
The Mumbaikar did not dwell much on his cricketing career which has spanned an incredible 24 years.
“I had the right pitches, the right wickets to prepare myself. To play for India has been truly memorable, I think every step was different and every tour required different preparations,” he said.
Tendulkar said facilities like those available at the MCA would help groom a younger generation of sporting icons.
“To continue to build a sporting culture in our nation is very important. That can happen with right guidance, coaching and right facilities. All this should be there for the coming generation,” he said.
“I think it (MCA) is a great platform for the next generation to make use of,” he added.
MCA’s newly-elected president Sharad Pawar said Tendulkar would continue to inspire millions even after retirement.
“Sachin has been a precious jewel of the MCA. We are honoured to have a player like him. He has outstanding achievements in both Test and One-day cricket. He has been a great ambassador for not only the game of cricket but also for sporting community and a great role model for the youngsters to follow,” he said.
“We will miss the Sachin, Sachin chant at the stadium. We thank him for giving so many pleasurable moments to the entire country for the last 24 years,” he added.
State Chief Minister Prithvi Raj Chavan echoed MCA president’s sentiment.
“Sachin is one of the greatest Indian, a great sportsperson and a great hero. He has given India years and years of sporting pleasure. He is admired not only here but all over the world. We all rejoice his success. I am sure Test cricket will miss him,” he said.