Sachin Tendulkar Interview: Part III
Question: After every hundred you look up to the skies and thank God. Have you always been God-fearing and has this belief strengthened over the years?
Sachin Tendulkar: Yes, right from the day I started playing cricket, there was this Ganpati mandir (temple) at Shivaji Park and during our breaks, whenever I got thirsty, I would go there and drink the water from the tap there. I used to always feel that it is a kind of blessing and it is a kind of positive energy going through my body, and it is going to give me strength to go out and perform. Right from that time, right from day one, it has been there. That is the way I have been brought up. Not just while playing cricket, but even before that I used to watch my father at home and see my mother as well pray.
Q: How do you compare this record to all the other milestones in cricket - like a bowler taking 800 Test wickets? Also, do you believe any other player can break this record?
Tendulkar: I don't like comparisons. I think getting to 800 wickets is a great thing, absolutely fabulous. All the other players who have done well and have been successful at the international level, they have made huge sacrifices. There has been lot of discipline, commitment and dedication in their lives to serve their nation. I respect all of them, and even the guys who have not been successful, because to play for your nation you still have to go through the rigours and without that it doesn't happen. I don't like to compare and I respect every individual who has achieved something. About breaking the record of hundred hundreds, I don't know. All the records are meant to be broken. If somebody breaks it, then he should be an Indian.
Q: What keeps you going in ODIs, especially after winning the World Cup last year?
Tendulkar: It is the passion for the game and as long as I feel the passion, as long as I feel the desire is there, as long as I feel that I can go out and deliver, I should be playing. But the day I feel I cannot do it, I cannot motivate myself even though I am performing, then it is time to look at making decisions. There might be phases where I am not performing well, but I am motivated enough and passionate enough, then I need not worry.
Looking back at the Australia tour, India lost the Test series and you were desperate to win the CB Series. Then there was your 100th hundred, something that you wanted to get out of the way to continue with the cricket. In a scenario like that there was the rotation policy: for someone who has never been dropped or even asked to rest, were you disappointed by - or were you included in taking - that decision?
It was discussed among the senior players, the captain and the management. It was clear that we wanted all the guys to play because in a tournament like that, when there are no long breaks between the games, then you also need to look at injuries. I am not saying that the players were injured, but then there are some borderline cases that you need to look after and that is what we were looking to do. It was not a question of dropping someone, it was a question of taking care of those borderline cases.
Q: On the rotation policy, do you think certain things regarding that should not have come into the public domain?
Tendulkar: Yes, I'm a believer of that, that certain things should not leave the dressing room. But every individual will have different opinion, every individual will react differently and he means different things. So I cannot answer for people who have spoken about it, as to what they intended to say. I don't know.
But it seemed like someone was trying to attack the senior players in the team by making certain kinds of comments...Honestly, I can't fill in those blanks. Only that individual would know what he was trying to say. If anything is there, then, we travel in the same bus, we sit in the dressing room, we would share those things.
Q: Did you feel bad about what was being said of the whole situation?
Tendulkar: I don't follow (what is written in the newspapers). I was in a good space. The only time when I had no choice was with the common man, who would read the newspapers and just keep wishing me for my 100th hundred. I am glad nobody would wish me after that.
Q: You are a national icon and that is a tough job because the expectation of an entire nation is weighing on you. How does it affect your personal life and your family? Sometimes, you must think of just going away to a lonely island and disappearing?
Tendulkar: I do that. Sometimes there are complaints that I don't respond to various things and I should be reacting more to spend quality time with my family. Anjali has been with me for a long time, right from the start of my international career, and she understands the pressures and demands of international sportspersons. I think without her support things would have been different. If my family did not understand what the demands were, then to manage all these things would have been really difficult. My family has played a huge role in (getting me to) where I am at the moment. Right from the start that was the unwritten law, that I only play cricket, I don't think of anything else, everything else will be looked after by my family. So I only focussed on the game and nothing else at all, so that has allowed me to be stress-free and not worry about anything that is happening outside the field of cricket. It has
been just the cricket field and my family, because the rest of things have been managed by my family.
From 1995, when I signed for WorldTel with Mark Mascarenhas, that was a big moment for me. We went on to become good friends, but unfortunately Mark passed away in 2002 when England were playing in India. That was a huge blow, not because I lost my manager, but because I lost my friend who understood how I operated, how my family operated and never pressurised me to do ads whenever a series was going on because in cricket time it was only cricket. I clearly remember him telling me 'you only worry about scoring runs, you don't worry about anything else, that is my problem'. He gave me complete freedom and to have those kind of people around, who understand the way you think, that really helps and it has continued. After that I have had Vinod (Naidu), who has been with me now for 14 years, and Harish is here from WSG … all these guys have contributed. But the family factor is the most important factor and without their understanding, it is just not possible.
Continued...Sachin Tendulkar Interview: Part IV and Last.