Kolkata: Sachin Tendulkar is likely to be greeted by thousands of spectators wearing masks bearing his likeness or waving placards with slogans testifying to his batting genius in the galleries at Eden Gardens as he walks out onto the iconic ground next month for one last time before he retires.
Going all out to give a warm farewell to the man affectionately called the ‘Little Master’, who plays his 199th and penultimate Test match at the Eden Gardens against the West Indies from November 6, officials at the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) are planning novel ways to make the occasion memorable to the cricketer as also legions of his fans.
Tendulkar is set to bid adieu to cricket after the second Test of the series — the 200th of his glittering career — at Mumbai’s Wankhede Grounds from November 14-18.
While plans are afoot to release thousands of balloons bearing his pictures at the start of play on the opening day or subsequent days at the Eden Gardens, the CAB is also toying with the idea of distributing shirts bearing Tendulkar’s pictures among the spectators.
“This is no ordinary Test match. This is Sachin Test, Sachin fest. And we are leaving no stone unturned to celebrate it,” CAB treasurer Biswarup Dey told IANS.
Since the time Tendulkar called up CAB chief Jagmohan Dalmiya and expressed his desire to play the match at Eden, the association officials have been holding daily discussions to implement the best suggestions from among those they have received to mark the occasion.
“We need some more time to finalise things. We hope to firm up plans by the end of next week,” Dey said.
One of the suggestions is to distribute Tendulkar masks among the likely full house of 70,000 on the ground.
“As he steps onto the ground, the spectators will don the masks and applaud Tendulkar. In whichever direction the Little Master looks, he will see only Sachin Tendulkars in the stands,” said a CAB official.
“We are also thinking of extending varied forms of welcome to Tendulkar on each of the match days. While one day he may be greeted by the placards, on another morning, the balloons will be released to fete him. The vests can mark another day,” said the official.
To make the match ticket itself a collector’s item, the CAB has decided to print tickets with Tendulkar’s picture on them.
“As per initial plans, different photos of Sachin will be printed on the tickets for each of the match days. We have also contacted artists Jogen Chowdhury and Sanatan Dinda. We will be seeking permission from the Board of Control for Cricket in India, as photos of cricketers are generally not printed on tickets,” said Dey.
A gala dinner to give Tendulkar a “magnificent felicitation” off the field is also in the scheme of things, but the CAB is first trying to ascertain whether the Anti-Corruption Unit of the BCCI would approve of it ahead of the match.
Regarding extending invitation to Tendulkar’s family members, including his mother, Dey said: “We are in the process of sending the invites. We have to wait for the response.”
There is also a move to invite former Indian stars as also West Indies legend Brian Lara for the historic match. “We will take a final call on this in the next two days,” said the official.