It took the World Cup for me to truly embrace the Sachin.
I knew he was great. The stats told me that. But I'd never really realised just how great.
Sachin was making hundreds before I was even born. He'd been single handedly carrying his country while I was in nappies, and consistently churning out the runs while I was getting into cricket. It wasn't that I wasn't in awe of it, but the sheer amount of runs and consistency of them made me blase. Sachin scored another century? Oh.
I've seen him bat in a test match, back at Lord's in 2007. While to millions (even billions) this would be the greatest thing to ever have happen in their lives, I was generally more interested in Jimmy Anderson taking a five for. To me, Sachin was just a batsman - just a batsman who happened to be out lbw for 37. I knew of the runs, but I'd never really appreciated his genius.
As time went by, the achievements got more extraordinary. Over 14000 test runs. 50 test centuries. The only ever score of 200 in an ODI. The World Cup started - and the adulation that goes everywhere with him swept me up. The superb hundreds against England (number 98) and South Africa (99) made me realise what I'd been missing. Previously I'd seen the borderline stalker / obsessive comments on Cricinfo from Sachinistas, and dismissed them as frenzied lunatics. But suddenly, I'd been bitten with the Sachin bug, and I started seeing sense in what they had to say. "Sachin is no mere mortal, Sachin is God". Why not - someone with that level of ability surely has to have some sort of divine assistance.
Before being swept up in the Cult of Sachin, I'd have seen the Indian players giving Sachin (who scored 18 and bowled two overs of cack in the final) a triumphant carry on the shoulders as ridiculous postering. Why not captain and man of the match Dhoni? Why not nearly-centurion Gambhir? Why not leading wicket taker Zaheer? Why not man of the tournament Yuvraj? But lifting Sachin just made sense.
"Sachin has carried us for 21 years, so it is only right that we carry him today" said Virat Kohli. And having been fully inducted into the Cult of Sachinism, I'd have been alongside him, hoisting the Little Master into the air. And I don't care who knows.
Now, I'm off to spam Cricinfo with some meaningless comments about how great Sachin is compared to everyone else ever...