I’m still a student, says Sachin Tendulkar

The Asian Age.  | Irfan Haji

Sports, Cricket

The ace batsman reminisces about his early days and the enterprising youngsters of today.

Sachin Tendulkar was seen in deep conversation with Harsha Bhogle, N.P. Singh and Rajesh Kaul, at a press conference in Mumbai. The master blaster regaled the audience with anecdotes from his heydays too. (Photo: Mrugesh Bandiwadekar)

Sachin Tendulkar’s work ethics and commitment towards cricket is legendary. The former Indian captain, made sure he was hundred percent prepared for every tour and series during his hey days, by devising his own methods of training like countering moving the ball, negating swing, coping with short ball on fast pitches and smothering spin from the likes of Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan.

 Despite retiring almost four years ago from all forms of cricket after a glittering 24-year international career, the 44-year-old revealed that he continues to be a student of the game.

“We have been brought up in a humble atmosphere. My coaches on the field were my brother Ajit and (Ramakant) Achrekar Sir. Sir would be hiding and watching us. Initially we were unaware of that and played a lot of mischief. Sir would demonstrate how we could improve ourselves. Eventually we realised that Sir was watching us and so our pranks also diminished.”

Tendulkar, who has always spoken about his elder brother Ajit’s influence, shared, “Ajit only travelled a couple of times with me on tours. However, one thing was certain. We would always exchange a phone call after every match. We would discuss what went wrong, how I got out on a particular day, and what I could have done differently. Our discussions continued till the last day of my innings.

“Till the last day of my career I was a student and will continue to be one. One can always learn from his mistakes and excel himself,” he quipped.

 Tendulkar’s last game was against West Indies. He made 74 runs in his first innings, which turned out to be the last score of his career, as India won by an innings and 126 runs, at Wankhede Stadium, in November 2013. It was his 200th Test match. He made overall 15,921 runs in Tests with the help of 51 Test centuries, adding to his 49 tons in ODIs, to finish his career with a hundred international centuries.

Tendulkar who returned recently after his London trip, where he has a second home, continues to follow every sport, as it remains a passion for him. He has become a regular at the Roger Federer games in Wimbledon, and also makes a point to watch F1 races at Silverstone.”You rub shoulders with some of the champions of every era (in London). At Wimbledon, I met legends like Rod Lever and Bjorn Borg. At Formula One, I interacted with the greats. To be able to be there, breathe and soak in that atmosphere is incredible. I remember, Silverstone where I met F1 legends, Sir Frank Williams and Sir Jackie Stewart. The three of us sat together, and it was a different experience for me. I kept quiet and was greedily absorbing everything they said. Tendulkar was speaking to commentator Harsha Bhogale, who will now be the voice of Sony Sports Network channels, during cricket matches. Tendulkar will be the brand ambassador for these channels.

Tendulkar reiterated that he got inspired as a ten-year-old, after he watched Kapil Dev bagging India the trophy at Lord’s, on television. “You follow your heroes on television. My journey started after Kapil Dev lifted World Cup at Lord’s. I was at Rio Olympics last year and had mixed feelings. I watched Dipa Karmarkar’s performance broadcast from Agartala. That was incredible and that’s how television brings heroes to our homes and inspire us.”

“I played for 24 years with some great cricketers. Our generation has inspired the Indian team playing today. Television is a powerful platform to change our nation. I keep hearing that India will be the youngest nation by 2020. But in obesity. we are number three. Young and unhealthy population is a perfect recipe for disaster. Spend more time in gym than on the dining table, “he said.

Bandra boy Tendulkar, who was already playing international cricket at 16 and had given glimpses of being a world class player, said, “Under 17 FIFA World Cup in India will be highly competitive. You have some world class players playing; I participated at 16.  Competiton is at the highest level at this age, and players don't want to compromise. 17 is not considered young today. Spectators response is of prime importance,” he concluded.