He started his way out as a curly haired 16-year-old and seems to have drunk from the fountain of youth. Like the evergreen Dev Anand of the silver screen, he seemingly can just go on and on. He has frequently spoken of his one remaining dream to be achieved – to be a member of the World Cup winning team.
He gets the opportunity next year and while conventional wisdom is that he will ride off into the sunset following that Fifty50 tournament whether India wins or not, gamblers will do well to hesitate before placing any bets on this. One would indeed not be surprised if he is still around to represent the country in the 2015 World Cup. So what if he will be 42? Age is just a number after all for cricketers like Tendulkar.
Watching him on the field these days it is difficult to believe that he is the senior most cricketer in the game today. Whether batting or fielding, whether leading the side or sending down his occasional cocktail of leg breaks, off breaks and googlies he could well be the junior most player around. His enthusiasm is boundless and time and age have not withered his skill or lessened his hunger for success.
If anything like good wine, he is getting better with age as his recent performances in all formats of the game clearly illustrates. Moreover, this keenness is infectious as the Mumbai Indians campaign in the IPL has underlined. The players responded spontaneously with the result that Mumbai Indians topped the table at the end of the league stage when it was not necessarily the strongest among the eight outfits in a highly competitive field. A victory on Sunday will be the perfect birthday present for Tendulkar.
Being a living legend has its own responsibilities - and pitfalls. Nothing but the best is expected from you all the time and particularly when you are an Indian the pressures are unthinkable. But, Tendulkar has carried these hopes and aspirations on his shoulders for two decades now whether it is Test cricket, ODIs or leading the side in the IPL.
Twenty20 they said was a young man's game but then they underestimated Tendulkar's sublime skills. He has proved that cricket's newest and shortest format is not just about fours and sixes and big hits but there is a place for strokes that are a blend of timing and placement.
However, he made it clear three years ago that he wasn't going to play Twenty20 internationals and such is the respect for his views that the campaign for his inclusion soon petered out.
I have never seen the knowledgeable Chepauk spectators in such a fix as they were during the match between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians last week. They wanted their team to win which was perfectly natural, but they also wanted Tendulkar to succeed.
It reminded me of the predicament that Neville Cardus found himself in around a hundred years ago when as a schoolboy he wanted England to win but he also wanted his hero Victor Trumper to get a hundred. That's Tendulkar for you. He commands spontaneous respect from every corner of the country.
It is not easy to maintain a squeaky clean image in a game beset by controversies and even scandals. It is not easy to maintain one's popularity for 20 years and continue to be successful in all formats of the game for an extended period.
Let's not make the mistake of writing off Sachin Tendulkar – a mistake that a prominent national newspaper did in 2006 after he had a few failures in the Test matches in Pakistan.
It carried a short news item on page one headlined "Endulkar?'' I am reminded of this every time he goes through a purple patch which he is enjoying at the moment or when he sets a world record which he did at Gwalior a couple of months ago.
The now infamous headline can be summarily dismissed as sensationalism or a vulgarly irresponsible job by a deskman who tried to be too clever but was made to eat humble and distasteful pie.
Tendulkar will go out on his own terms and on a high. In the meantime, let us wish the perennially young man many happy returns of the day, a memorable year and many more years of service to Indian cricket!
email me: firstname.lastname@example.org