On the threshold of a new life- he marries on May 25 –SACHIN TENDULKAR talks about his image, his fame and his life to Gautam Bhattacharya
SPWD: How much has life changed for you in the last two years?
SACHIN TENDULKAR : Oh,it has certainly changed. I’m leading a very hectic life now. I know that expectations are sky high. If you talk about ’93 , expectations were also high, but not so much as today. A lot of additional responsibilities rest on my shoulders.I have to fulfil them.
What are the advantages of being Sachin Tendulkar ?
I have never really given it a thought.Being Sachin Tendulkar, I would like to be humble , be polite to everybody and would like to give respect to my elders . I’m not really expecting anything from the people for the little (fame) … I have earned . But you don’t have to ask for anything. A lot of doors automatically open up to you.
Doesn’t it ?
Let me explain it. I am totally against breaking the rules of society .I believe rules are there to be observed . Irrespective of whoever you are.
But surely temptations are too many. Celebrities like Diego Maradona have often fallen for it …
May be , I wouldn’t. All I can tell you is that I don’t wish to break the rules of society. To give you a small example ,breaking the traffic signals. I, for one , would never do that . It can cost someone’s life . You have to see all these minor things. Being Sachin Tendulkar you’ve got to be extra careful(laughs) But it is possible to lead the life of a superstar and yet remain a proverbial good guy . People come to you almost every minute , for favours I always look up to my father and follow his attitude . He is a ideal role model . The main is so down-to-earth and humble . Father never gets angry.
Do you reckon him to be a more successful person?
Of course. I’m nowhere near his achievements.
Your decision to go ahead with your marriage plans has surprised a few. They apparently feel, you could have delayed it further, thereby ensuring cent-percent concentration on cricket ?
I won’t accept that argument. Getting married doesn’t necessarily means loss of concentration. Come on, marriage is just a normal part of my life.You need money to survive. It gives you security, so that you can concentrate on your game without worrying about how to run your family. Money also offers you incentives. My idea is, the more you ignore money, the more it comes after you.You people also get married too. Tell me , do you loss interest in writing after that ? It is the same here . Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Srikkanth Kapil Dev …they all got married. It never hampered their cricket.Everybody has to go through it.So I’m also going through it. I don’t think marriage is going to affect my game at all.
Is ‘Mrs.Anjali Tendulkar ‘ nee Metha interested in cricket ?
Previously she wasn’t, but now she keeps track. I guess, if a cricket’s wife is relatively disinterested in cricket it’s actually a blessing in disguise. Many cricketers doesn’t actually want to discuss the game after having spent the whole day on the field …I don’t have any such problems.I can relax through cricketing discussion . Cricket can never irritate me.
Sports world readers would be interested in knowing how Sachin Tendulkar spends an average day?
It is always very hectic. Most of the time I’m out. Either with my friends, my family or my would be wife and then I’ve got my practice schedule, which varies from three to four hours a day.
You’re a very hot marketable proposition these days.There are stories that sponsors line up outside your gate and that you reject one or two endorsement proposals everyday ?
No, no (laughs) that’s an exaggeration. Not every day.But yes, people do come. I talk to them but I’m very selective . I really think over it properly before getting into it.
It is said it you charge a lot . Supposing tomorrow I come to you with a proposal, how much will you charge ?
(laughs) Carry on.
Supposing I request you to endorse a fan. Will you do it readily if the offer is Ok?
(laughs again) . I’ll have to think over it.If its worthwhile I’ll do it.Other wise I will say ,no , thank you!
What is your definition of ‘worthwhile’? How much money ?
Money is not the only thing. Basically, I like to associate myself with big and clean companies. I look for the company’s goodwill. Now if you take all that into account how can you make a decision in just five minutes ? It requires solid thinking.
Tomorrow if a big cigarette or beer manufacturing company comes to you to endorse their products, will you accept?
I don’t think so . I can endorse such products.
Why ? some of them have tremendous goodwill in the market?
Look, I’m a sportsman and also don’t forget the fact that the young generation looks up to me. My responsibility is to keep them away from all these.
You mean a role model for the younger generation?
Yes, that is the kind of image I’ve set for myself. I will have to try and maintain that.So that the younger generation can continue to …….
You seem to be very conscious about your image. Tomorrow if you find in a newspaper article critising you very harshly , will you be very upset or just take it in your stride?
It all depends on the situation. If I haven’t got runs and immediately some arrogant guy confronts me or someone tries to act too smart, I’m bound to get irritated. Like any other human beings I need time to settle down . You can’t expect me to smile all the time.
Let me put this way .How has the press treated you so far ?
They’ve treated me very well. The writers, commentators,Photographers…….I’m extremely thankful to them.They all wrote good things about me.What about the bad things they wrote ?Occasionally even if they have written bad things, it’s only keeping in mind my interests.All of them want me to succeed. That’s for sure. I can’t have any complaints against them.
Do you at times feel sad that you had to be playing in an era where everything is taken with a pinch of salt. One bad shot against Pakistan at Sharjah may leads to all kinds of gossip, including money given by a bookie.
Yes, I do feel sad at times.It’s a terrible thing, I don’t seem to understand why illegal money should be invested in cricket? Let that go else where. I only urge this people, please keep cricket free from all this.
Have you received a call from a bookie ?
No (laughs).Once I did receive a call at 3 a.m. But that was for a complimentary ticket.
But honestly let me tell you, this business of putting illegal money in cricket is a very filthy thing to do, and the less said the better about the cricketers who indulge in this. you have better ways to earn money.Can money from a bookie give you the same amount of satisfaction, a hundred for your country gives ?No, no amount of money can ever buy that satisfaction. As for myself, my achievements are easily higher than the little amount of money I’ve earned.
How money is important to you ? Today’s cricketers appear to be money crazy ……..
You need money to survive. It gives you security , so that you can concentrate on your game without worrying much about how to run your family.Money also offers you incentives that if you do well, you are bound to earn money and cricket at the same time . You have to think of cricket and only cricket .My idea is the more you ignore money , the more it comes after you. You still put up that ‘do not disturb’ sign outside your room and the hotel operators are routinely instructed not to put any calls through to your room.
Are you wanting us to believe that your fan following has become so much that you have to resort to this on a regular basis?
It has to got into my system now.I like to be on my own. I like to think of that game.Think of what has happened in the past and what should be done in the future. Only if you postmortem yourself are you going to learn . If you remain happy with what you have achieved you will be dead and gone.
Tell me what postmortem did you do after the Sahara loss against Pakistan and after the West Indies Beat us in Chandigarh to save the series?
There was an excuse. No postmortem to be done: we just played badly. Both losses had nothing to do with technical incompetence.
Talking about technique, Vinod kambli, currently is going through a mini crisis. As his best friend and state captain what would you advise him to do at this stage ?
Nothing. He should continue to have faith in his abilities, in his cool. his time will come.
Do you have any cricketing ambitions as such?
I want to win each and every series whatever we go. I also would like to earn the respect of my co-players and opponents. Today your position is in complete contrast to that of Kambli. You seem to have reached a ‘high’………..
It’s a great feeling really. Everything is going my way. But I shouldn’t be to complacent.This is the most vital stage of my life. Normally when things go your way, you tend a relax a bit. This attitude can lead to loss of concentration and dedication.My new solution is to work extra hard at my game, see to it that I don’t relax. And also stay close to my family.
Why do you talk of ‘sticking to your family?
Because that’s basically the area from where you get all your strength.Your family members are the ones who stand by you through all ups and downs
Someone as important as Shane Warne has described you as the world’s Number One batsman .Others have also acknowledged that at this stage, it’s Tendulkar and not Lara, who wears the crown.Tell me honestly, how pleasing is to wear the mantle of the world’s greatest batsman?
Well,I do appreciate what people like Warne are saying .But I also realise how fickle this mantle could be .I mean, you can’t hold on to this permanently. This year it could be Brian Lara, next year it could be me . And like that it would rotate.
Who do you rate as your Number One competitor?
I hate comparisons and this competitor business….I presume , it varies from series to series .Whoever is playing against us, their entire team becomes my competitor. My job is to see that they don’t do well against us. Opponents are my biggest competitors.
You seem to talk about collective goals, not an individual one?
Obviously, cricket is a team game .Don’t forget it’s not only my personal endeavour. It’s not a personal battle between myself and Lara or Srinath versus Ambrose. There are ten others.My point is we have to be there on the victorious side irrespective of whatever I get a hundred or not.
What are the years in which you are still looking to improve?
Nothing is particular. I’ve played all over the world except the West Indies. I, of course have played the Windies in Australia where the wickets are livelier than in any other country.I just need to have more patience.
How does one develop patience?
I guess the time factor plays a key role. You learn, you could be on top today and tomorrow you could be down. If you practice hard, time will always be on your side. So my aim is to practice hard, be humble and be a good human being. All this counts because cricket is not just what you do on the field as well. There are few aspects off the field as well. Where you have to control yourself. I told you, you can’t be an undisciplined chap and yet strive for consistency. Ravi Shastri has created a small controversy of sorts by naming you as the best ever Indian batsman, he saw. While making the observation he has even taken into account names as weighty as that of Sunil Gavaskar and Viswanath.
Does this observation make you feel embarrassed?
Yeah, I feel embarrassed . Because Viswanath, Gavaskar,Vengsarkar…all this guys played for a good twelve fifteen years in international cricket.That’s a pretty long journey.Where as I’ve not yet completed six years,I ‘m just halfway down.I feel terribly embarrassed when I hear people praising me that much. But let me also tell you that I shall give off my best in future.
To prove yourself worthy such praise…?
Well (Laughs) I will have to try and improve my game further, so that people can comp-are me with any of the senior cricketers I mentioned. I have to achieve a lot more than what I already have.