24 April 1973, Bombay
Major Teams: India, Yorkshire, Bombay.
Batting Style: Right Hand Bat
Bowling Style: Right Arm Medium
Debut: India v Pakistan at Karachi, 1st Test, 1989/90
ODI Debut: India v Pakistan at Gujranwala, 2nd ODI, 1989/90
WHEN Sachin Tendulkar was 14 Dilip Vengsarkar, one of India`s finest batsmen and the captain of Bombay, asked him along for a net. Not with Bombay, with India. At the time Tendulkar had a decent sort of average at school and was attracting admirers; the average was 1,034 !!!
Up to that point in the term he had played five innings: 27 not out, 125, 207 not out, 346 not out and the last of them in the school final, 329 not out in an unbroken first wicket partnership of 664 with his pal, Vinod Kambli. When the cap- tain declared he gave the new ball to Tendulkar who slipped his op- posite number a bouncer first up and followed it with a yorker which removed middle stump. Tendulkar was that captain.
The following season he made his first-class debut for Bombay in the Ranji Trophy and scored an unbeaten hundred against Gujarat. Only one man in the long, glorious history of Indian cricket has made a hundred on his first appearance in all three of the domes- tic competitions, the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy and the Irani Trophy. That man is Sachin Tendulkar.
Mark Nicholas says "In all my years of fascination with the game no one player has so enthralled me and no personality has so impressed me. Few peo- ple have cricket running through their veins in the way of India`s prodigal son: Barry and Vivian Richards, a Cowdrey and a Graveney possibly, Garfield Sobers for certain; few people ap- pear to have their bat as an extension of their body; few people have 'the great leveller' as their oyster."
"From the age of 12 to 16 I practised eight hours a day. I re- laxed a little after that as I was playing more matches but I had come to cricket fairly late so had some catching up to do," Tendulkar says without a trace of self-promotion. "It was because of my elder brother Ajit that I took to cricket when I was 10. We spent the entire summer holidays playing which got me hooked, so I moved school from one that didn`t play the game at all to Shardarshram, where we played a great deal. I think it was a good move." No kidding, Sachin. "Oh well, I think it helped me to learn to manage a little bit."
Brown-eyed, baby-faced and as tiny as Sunil Gavaskar, he sits forward in concentration as he talks. His left ear carries a silver stud, his face has stubble, his chin reflects the idea of a goatee beard. He wears jeans and a jumper. He could be any modern young man but he isn`t, he is the captainelect of a coun- try with a population of almost a billion, a country which idol- ises its heroes and yet, conversely, revolts against ambition and intent.
"I have ambition, fierce ambition, but I keep it to myself. It is not wise to expose it. I don`t set goals as such but I have aims, 15,000 Test runs for example, and I am aware that I must maximise my potential. I would like to finish playing as a satisfied man knowing I had done all that I could do."
Gavaskar once told him that if he did not score 40 Test hun- dreds and make those 15,000 runs he would strangle him. "Ah," grins the boy, "by then Mr Gavaskar will be too old and have no strength left in his arms."
Gavaskar has been a guide to the prodigy and most especially on tours, when a vote of confidence on the eve of a big game never misses. "I take no credit, though," says the greatest run-maker of all time, "no coach should, he is the finest talent I have seen and that is through his own work." Tendulkar would award more rosettes to the master. "I studied his videos and am grateful to him in many ways as I am grateful to my family for their support. I would be nothing without them."
He was without them in the summer of `92 when he became the first overseas cricketer to represent Yorkshire - a tough task. He scored 1,000 runs and averaged 46 but was not satisfied. "Not at all, I never got going. Perhaps there was more pressure than I`d first thought. I received a fabulous reception each time I came out to bat and I respect the people of Yorkshire for that. The guys in the dressing room were fantastic, the whole thing was good for my learning curve and I would play county cricket again if asked, but only if it did not encroach on the Indian itinerary."
How complete is the curve? "Oh, not yet. The problem is that there is so much cricket and I find it hard to concentrate all the time. I am not working for hundreds as perhaps I should, but I am trying to keep my best energy for Test matches. I wish we played more Tests. Two were rained off before Christmas against New Zealand and it seems a long time since the last full series."
This is the talk of the modern mega-sportsman, Faldo talk if you like, "I`m focusing on `the majors`." It is brave talk for one so young and one for whom so little has gone awry, but it is also the talk of a thinker and a realist who understands the demands of the long and potentially treacherous road ahead. Think of Brian Lara.
"My brothers guide my business life and though I don`t have an agent as such, the company WorldTel manages the various commercial deals." He uses the word various loosely. In India he is all over the place, television, radio, newspapers, billboards, hoardings, you name it, Tendulkar advertises it; #5 million over five years, they say. "That`s near enough," he says. "I keep cricket and commerce completely separate. If I am distracted and my cricket loses focus then the deals would dry up."
Is the price his social life? "Certainly there is no privacy. I don`t go out in Bombay (where he has an apartment and where real estate is more expensive than Manhattan) but I am recently married (to Anjali, an Anglo-Indian doctor six years his elder) so it is not a great problem. They love me at home and I ap- preciate their interest. Truthfully, I am proud and lucky to play for India and I want to continue to do well. I do not think there would be the interest if I began to fail."
If you see Tendulkar today at the Oval or at all this summer you will see an ideal batsman: still head, straight bat, flexible footwork, fast hands. What you will feel though is the greatest attraction: the anticipation of his appearance and then the electricity of his genius, if sport can provide such a thing. The production - eight Test hundreds, average 51-plus; eight one- day hundreds, average 40-plus and less than a month ago did the slip of a lad turn 23 - is the more astonishing when one con- siders the expectation of his people and, most suffocatingly, of his team. They also know that he alone can make their day.
Ian Healy, the unforgiving Australian wicketkeeper, thinks Tendulkar the most complete batsman he has stood behind. "I saw the hundred in Perth on a bouncy pitch with Hughes, McDermott and Whitney gunning for him - he only had 60-odd when No 11 came in. I`ve seen him against Warne, too." Not that the man him- self thinks it his finest hour, nor even was his first Test hundred at Old Trafford six years ago.
"No, though Australia and South Africa are the toughest opponents. The key innings of my life was during my first Test, when I was just 16, in Pakistan. The pitch was green and Waqar Younis, Wasim, Imran and Aqib Javed were the ultimate inquisi- tion. We were 30 for four and struggling to save the Test when I came in. Waqar hit the bridge of my nose, look, see the scar, but I hung on and made 59 and we saved it." Aged 16? Enough said.
A child prodigy, the captain of Bombay is the most popular cricketer in the current squad. He is already a veteran at his young age, and one of the most experienced players in the team. His is the most precocious batting talent in International cricket, and he is rated by many as the leading exponent of the art, although he has yet to statistically fully justify that mantle. His technique is impeccable, he packs tremendous power and strength into his short, stocky frame, and his ability to time the ball is exemplary. He has all the shots in the book and more, and appears able to play them with conviction against any kind of bowling on any kind of surface. The only possible question mark against him is his temperament. His performance in one-day cricket, whilst uninspiring initially, has been nothing short of spectacular since he moved to the opening slot, where he averages around 40. His shrewd cricketing brain has enabled him to develop into a very effective bowler in the "slog overs" in one day cricket, as he stretches the use of variety to its extremes. He is also a quick and agile fielder, and is the proverbial extrovert and enthusiast in the field. He took over the Indian captaincy in 1997, with initially mixed results and was then dropped as captain in 1998.
Sachin the batsman
Meet Sachin Tendulkar. Ex-captain of India. 53 Test Matches with an average just over 50 (50.23). 150 One-Day Internationals with an average of 40.00. And lastly, age: 24 years (at the time of writing this).
Well, in this case, statistics speak louder that words. Looking at the above, it is almost child's play to gauge what sort of a player Sachin Tendulkar of India is. A prodigy, a veteran, a genius....all at the age of 23. Making both his Test and ODI debut versus the formidable Pakistan, he has shown an uncanny sense of direction....he knows what his goal is. To be one of the best! And as far as I have seen, his goal is fast approaching.
One can still remember the Cape Town Test, the final league match of the Safari Cup versus Zimbabwe, theTitan Cup Final...breathtaking examples of the kind of cricketer that Sachin Tendulkar is made up of. The most recent one, the ODI versus Zimbabwe won him the man of the match award. A brilliant match winning ton in only 97 balls that coasted India to the finals of the Safari Cup. Every bowler in the world considers him as one of the most dangerours bats to bowl to. That is quite an achievement for a person who has become the captain of India at the age of 23!
In May 1996, the Australian legend and most certainly the best batsman in the world, Sir Donald Bradman, allowed an interview to be taken of him after years of detachment from the world of cricket. In one statement he said, "Yes, I have seen Sachin Tendulkar batting on TV. I thought that he played a lot like me. Since I didn't really know exactly how I played, I called my wife and she agreed that he too played very much like me...." Well, after that Sachin Tendulkar told the press that he was overwhelmed with the compliment and he would give anything to have a test average like Don Bradman, that of 99.96! Such a compliment coming from the world's greatest player is something that he will remember for the rest of his life.
Sachin Tendulkar is a sort of batsman that once he gets into the mood, that of going after the bowlers, he is practically unstoppable. Many of the teams have noticed that and they dread the time when he comes to the crease. If you want to watch the most unplayable of deliveries to go racing to the boundary, you must watch Sachin Tendulkar. He is as innovative as his game is total copy-book style. He is one of the most watchable batsman in the world! He is one of the best or rather the best!
Sachin the captain
After a rather miserable tour of England, where Navjot Singh Sidhu left in a huff, and Azharuddin was plagued with problems with his form, personal life etc. the time hadcome for the captaincy to be taken off his shoulders and to place the team in charge of the young shoulders of vice-captain Sachin Tendulkar. He knew it was coming. He didn't want to grab it. But he was pleased, nevertheless, and all the more when his first call of congratulations came from his predecessor Mohammad Azharuddin.
Being the second youngest captain, he was also one of the few who scored a century in his first match as captain. This seemed to be a good sign for all Indian supporters and much was expected of him. Under his tenure, India lost the Sahara Series, the Singer World Series but won the Gavaskar-Border one off test match versus Australia, the Titan Cup versus Australia again and South Africa, the Test match series versus South Africa. After that they lost all the other matches in the year 1997. Well, rather a mixed result, one might say. But all the matches won, the Titan Cup, the Gavaskar-Border series, the Test Matches versus SA were at home. All in all India's overseas record is rather poor. The speculation was that the captaincy was affecting Sachin Tendulkar's batting and that he was not old enough for it. But whenever India won any match, Tendulkar was praised for his "marvellous" captaincy.Too much was expected of him when he as given the captaincy and he was expected to show results straightaway.
Sachin the team man
In any match whether a ODI or a Test match, you will always find Sachin Tendulkar almost certainly fielding either at mid-on or slip. And when he isn't fielding, he is giving words of encouragement to his team and his bowlers, giving them advice on how to bowl or suggestions too. That is what Sachin Tendulkar is the team man!
Who can forget the semi-finals of the Hero Cup vs South Africa and the unbelieveable last over that Tendulkar bowled to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat? The fact that he took on the responsibility to bowl the most crucial over of the match when he is really not a full-time bowler is really remarkable and it shows the commitment that Sachin Tendulkar has towards the game of cricket and his team.
As a captain, Tendulkar still has to learn a lot and needs more experience but there is no doubting his eagerness to learn and the fact that he supports his team whatever happens. After all, being the second youngest captain, he has done quite well and in time to come he will be much more experienced and be able to lead the team better. Even before he was made captain and he was Azhar's deputy, he was always eager to help out and offer whatever suggestions that he could.
Tendulkar is indeed a team man even if he is not as successful as a captain. He is the right sort of person to keep the team together and be a source of inspiration to a very young team. As their key motivator, the members of the Indian team can rely on Sachin Tendulkar, their captain, to keep their morale high whatever happens and to support them always.
Sachin the person
Almost always, the personal life of public personalities is generally known only by the way in which the media portrays it, as very few people know them. In the case of Sachin Tendulkar, the media basically talks about his cricket, cricket and nothing else. But people's personalities can be observed by small instances which give us an idea on what sort of a person that particular person really is.
One special quality of Sachin Tendulkar is that even though he has received fame and attention at such a young age, it has not gone to his head. Very rarely do we find people who do not, in some way, use their power to get things done for them inspite of having signed million-dollar lucrative contracts. A school coach who once met Tendulkar before the West Indies tour and was very surprised to find that he still remembered him (my coach) after they had met when Tendulkar last played for his school. They met occasionally after that and the coach remarked, "Never ever before have I met a person who is so well known by all and yet who is so polite to me...a school coach!"
Whether off the field or on it, Sachin Tendulkar is a very responsible person. Having to give up his education a few years after school because of cricket, he has shown his commitment towards the game. His father was a school teacher and his brother, who later wrote a biography on his younger brother's genius, was one of the people responsible for nurturing Tendulkar's interest in the game. Now, married, Sachin Tendulkar continues to live as normal a life as he possibly can, with his wife Anjali. His other hobbies include collecting CDs (of Pop music basically) and he likes tennis too. So that is what Sachin Tendulkar the batsman, the captain, the team man and the person himself is. Blessed with good fortune due to his hard work early in his life, he continues to be one of the most interesting and exciting cricket personalities there has ever been.