Shirin Sadikot in Mumbai 17 November 2013 - 06:43pm IST
Cricket pitch was my temple: Tendulkar
Indian batting legend relives his 24-year long cricket journey
A day after his retirement, Sachin Tendulkar addressed a huge gathering of media personnel in Mumbai.
He arrived looking sharp in his Team India blazer. He looked a happy and content man as he smiled generously for the shutterbugs. He answered all the questions elaborately and patiently. The frenzied atmosphere turned pleasant with the light-hearted jokes he punctuated his answers with.
Here is what Sachin Tendulkar had to say in the press conference.
The 24-year long journey
Playing cricket was the most important thing for me during the last 24 years. A lot of challenges came up during that time. But the desire to play for the nation led me to find solutions to those challenges. I was helped by my family and friends all along. It was a dream journey of 24 years. It still has not sunk in yet that I won’t play anymore. I probably might find or the other place or occasion to play cricket. I have no regrets. I felt this was the right time to stop playing cricket. All I can say that it was an enjoyable journey.
The ‘Oxygen’ in his life
Cricket is oxygen to me. Out of the 40 years of my life, I have spent 30 playing cricket. 75% of my life has been cricket. My association with the sport will continue, maybe not immediately, but in the near future.
The big decision
I remember there have been lots of questions about my retirement over the years and I’ve always said ‘I’ll tell you when I feel like I can stop’. I have had injuries that have been tough to overcome. But there comes a stage where your body tells you ‘enough of this physical load’. So I thought my body can’t take that load consistently. The training sessions were becoming an effort. Sometimes I felt I should just sit and watch TV. These were raising questions in my mind, and I needed to find answers. So I requested the BCCI that if these two matches are to be my last, if possible, arrange the last one in Mumbai. My mother had never seen me play. I wanted this to be a surprise to my mom. But through the media, she came to know of it. But coming back to the question, the moment I got the feeling I should stop playing, I stopped.
The emotional moment
It was an emotional moment when after my last match I went and touched the pitch. The wicket is like my temple. Whatever I have achieved in life, it is done between those 22 yards. When I was thinking about retirement, I wasn’t so emotional since it was the right decision. My family were moved, I wasn’t. But I became emotional when my team gave me a send-off. When I went to the wicket (one last time), I felt emotional. The thought that I won’t be able to return to that place, especially for India, made me emotional.
The final hurrah
My mother was extremely happy. Earlier, we were not sure if she would come since it was difficult for her to travel. Thanks to the BCCI for making the arrangements. I requested the MCA for a room at the Garware guest house for us in case my mother wants to rest there. But she preferred sitting in the stadium and watching every ball that was played. I could see in her eyes that the occasion was special for her. But her reaction was controlled and balance. She spoke more through her eyes and I could sense that.
The after effect
Today morning I woke up, at 6.15 – because of my body clock – and realised I don’t need to quickly have a shower and be ready for the match. I made myself a cup of tea, enjoyed a lovely breakfast with my wife. It was a relaxed morning. A lot of people had sent me their wishes and I spent some time responding to their messages. The morning was relaxed.
For the love of the nation
Even though I’m physically not playing for India, I’ll always be praying for an Indian victory. I feel India must come first in any field it participates in.
The Bharat Ratna
Yesterday I said this award was for my mother for all the sacrifices she made for me. As a child you don’t understand what parents go through to make you happy. The beauty of it all is that I was never told what all was done for me. In fact, I will go a step further and share this award with the millions and millions of mothers who sacrifice thousands of things for their children. This award is for my contribution to cricket. When you’re growing up, all you want to do is score hundreds, take wickets, keep bettering your performance, and I’ve tried to do that. The people have praised me for doing that and that has given me the strength to go out and repeat it continuously. This award is also for those people. It’s a great honour to be named alongside Dr. CNR Rao as his contribution to science is immense. Cricket is seen by the public in thousands, but not his scientific achievements. So I would like to congratulate him.
Fighting the odds
Injuries were tough on me. They were rarely the same. To overcome them and return to the sport was tough. You can’t say “I’ll work out in the gym for two months and be fit again.” The body works in its own natural ways. When I had the tennis elbow injury, I felt my career was finished and I might not be able to play. After the surgery, I could not even lift my son’s plastic bat. At a return game, I was playing with a season ball and my hardest hits were not travelling beyond 10-15 yards. It was tough for me. But I would like to thank the people who helped me recover and play again.
The beauty of my family is that they never lost balance, whether I scored 15-20 or a hundred. They always encouraged me. I was able to perform since an early age because that balance was maintained. If I did well, like any other family we bought a pack of sweets and offered it to god to thank him. That tradition continues. That’s what I’ve learnt from my parents... when you grow up you appreciate life.
The Young brigade
Guys like Bhuvaneshwar Kumar were not even born when I started playing. I joke with some of them they should say ‘good morning sir’ to me when I enter the room. But it has been a joy working with them. When you understand what they have to say to you, you become a better person.
Passing on the knowledge
It is a nice thought to open a cricket academy. I’d like to be involved with youngsters. I’ve been interacting with young players from U-19 and Ranji teams. I’ve not made this public. They’ve been low-profile and private. It’s a nice thing. These interactions teach you things about the game.
As a father, I’ll ask you to leave him alone and not have expectations and draw comparisons with me. If I had followed my father I would have had a pen in my hand since he was in the field of literature. Arjun is passionate about cricket. You have to be madly in love with the sport to be able to give your best. As far as performance goes, I won’t pressurise him and neither should you. He should just enjoy the game. The script ahead for him will be decided by god.