Even as Sachin’s 200th test match (his last ever cricket match) is being played against the WI at Wankhede stadium, Mumbai, my heart sinks at the thought- ‘I won’t see Sachin. Again!’. The ‘Master Blaster’ is most definitely not my favourite cricket player (he ranks around 10th or 11th on my list). However, he is the first cricket player whose name I learnt. He is a bit like Aqua and Michael Jackson to me; Growing up, I replaced them with ‘more favourites’. But the first is the first. All that’s immaterial here. My mother will miss him. She exclaims ‘He doesn’t look 40!’. My dad replies ‘No, he looks 39 at most.’. The conversation moves on to more next-door topics.
Sachin at a point of time was EVERYWHERE! Sachin is just not another cricketer. He is not like Rahul Dravid or Saurav Ganguly- the kinds that will be remembered for the cricket they played. Sachin is a ‘concept’. He has held every record there is, and it will take some time before they are broken. But that is just the ‘cricket’ of it.
If I get a picture of Tendulkar on my mind, I will also hear him saying “Boost is the secret of my…OUR energy.”. Boost (an energy drink) is only one of the many brands that the ‘GOD of cricket’ has endorsed. There was Pepsi, and now there is Coca-Cola. There was Brittannia and after that there was Sunfeast. And Sachin was the face of Adidas at the time Dravid was the face of Reebok. What I see as incredible is that- this man has been the face of a wide variety of brands. There was never a ‘kind of’ brand. He has endorsed everything write (right. lol I know. Get it?) from Reynolds to electronic brands like- Sanyo, Toshiba, Philips and Canon; Automobiles Fiat Palio and TVS. Others include- VISA, G-Hanz, Airtel, Ujala,Muzafir.com (what’s it?),Madras Rubber Factory (abbreviated as MRF but I just wanted to type ‘Madras’,yo.), Aviva India, Action shoes,etc. <breathes heavily>
And there were also these ‘social’ ads like the ones he did for NECC “jo ande roz kaathe hain, woh hatte katte rahthe hai”(basically, it just means ‘eat eggs’) and AIDS awareness “I wear condoms, because life is unpredictable.”. (hehe) In both of these of course, he shared space with his teammates. But, he WAS there.
And apparently, he is ranked #51 on Forbes’ top-earning athletes of 2013. But unlike 5 years back, he is not the most earning sportsman in India, with Kohli and Dhoni having over-taken him. But we know two things, We would have never seen Sachin endorsing ‘Fair and Handsome’ like Kohli. Nor have we seen him dancing with actresses like Kohli did in the ‘Clear’ shampoo ad. This just shows people don’t take him for a ‘face’ like Kohli. And we also know that no other cricketer will stay here for such a long time, making Tendulkar the winner here.
So will his retirement affect his Brand-image? I’d say “Yes” but “Not really”. Like when Aishwarya Rai got married we thought she was gone forever (with L’oreal almost having replaced her with Sonam Kapoor, and all). But she could not be gone for long. She got married, she had a beautiful girl baby, she lost some weight. And…we still see her with a shampoo bottle in hand. I’m not denying that she is less ubiquitous as before, but at least we see her. And with the baby growing up, we see her in more ‘home maker’ ads like the one for Prestige pressure cooker with hubby Abishek.
I’m not saying Sachin is like Ash. But retirement is to a cricketer what marriage is to a beautiful face. And with Canon having replaced Sachin with Anushka Sharma (hahahaha OMG!), I do have my doubts. But I know Tendulkar is someone the entire nation has made a habit to see on T.V. We won’t see him sweating it out or pouncing on cricket balls with an audio of a lion roaring for the BGM, but he will appear as a silent, wise guy, sitting on the steps of an indoor stadium, juggling balls patiently and giving advice on life and talking about ‘Retirement Plans’.