Sachin hits back at critics of his batting

Published: Friday, November 12, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Sachin Tendulkar has hit back at critics who questioned his approach to batting during the Asia Cup.

Despite the India hero scoring 281 runs at an average of 56.20 with a strike rate of over 72 in six matches during the August event, some believed Tendulkar's natural game was being shackled by Kiwi coach John Wright.

"I thought too much was being said about it, and unfortunately guys who have played cricket themselves were making too many rude statements," Tendulkar told December's issue of the Wisden Cricketer magazine.

"Someone who has played should definitely understand that there are things like team meetings and team plans.

"Its not all about what my natural game is but about executing a team plan," added the master batsman whose 74 in the final could not prevent a 25-run win for hosts Sri Lanka.

"I should be doing what the team wants me to and not what someone sitting 85 yards away in the commentators' box feels.

"Its very easy to say that you should go out and play your natural game but sometimes you end up taking plenty of risks and, if you get out doing that, people start talking one way.

"And, when you try to do what the team has planned, they think differently. So it is difficult for any player to keep outsiders happy."

He agreed that his game had changed since he made his international debut as a 16-year-old.

"If I kept playing the same way throughout my career, it would mean the opposition have not been using their brains," he explained.

"If they decide to bowl to you on off stump with seven fielders on the off-side it is not necessary to still play flamboyant cover-drives.

"So sometimes you shuffle across and play on the leg. You have to adapt, you have to do what is necessary. I hope people get sharp enough to understand that."

Tendulkar's career has seen him pile up some extraordinary statistics - 9,540 Test run at an average of over 56 with 33 hundreds and 13,415 One-day International runs at a touch over 45 with 37 centuries.

But his time as captain of the India team was not a success with just four Tests won in 25 matches in charge with 12 draws and nine defeats.

He resigned the captaincy in 2000 and told the Wisden Cricketer it had affected his batting.

"We were not heading in the right direction and it was affecting me as a person. I couldn't switch off at all.

"Even 10 days after a match I would still be thinking about why this happened and why that happened. Also I felt there was a lack of support from every direction.

"I wasn't happy with them at all. It just didn't work out. They had different ideas, I had different ideas.

"The only thing is I had to go in there and play with their ideas. One of those ideas was to recast VVS Laxman in the role of an opener.

"It happened literally in the middle of a meeting. Till then he had been a middle-order batsman and suddenly he was an opener.

"Captaining India was a great honour but it was not the ultimate thing. The ultimate thing was to play cricket. That's what I said when they removed me from the captaincy.

"I said that you can stop me from leading India but no one can stop me from playing cricket.

"I have no regrets. I will not sit back after 20 years and think that I didn't try my best."

Looking ahead Tendulkar, 31, said he had at least five years more in the game and dismissed suggestions he found it hard to motivate himself for 'meaningless' One-day game.

"I can never think like that. Even before a charity match, I am still excited, still nervous. The day I stop feeling like that, it might be time to stop."

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