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Rediff.com  » Cricket » 'In Tendulkar's retirement BCCI will miss a brand India cricketer'

'In Tendulkar's retirement BCCI will miss a brand India cricketer'

November 05, 2013 08:44 IST

'In Tendulkar's retirement BCCI will miss a brand India cricketer'

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Ratnakar Shetty has enjoyed a close bond with Sachin Tendulkar for nearly 15 years, since he was manager of the Indian team on the tour of Sri Lanka in 1997.

Having served the Board of Control for Cricket in India in various capacities over the last two decades with distinction, he also had the privilege of witnessing Tendulkar dominate bowlers, right from his record innings in schools cricket, for Shardashram in 1988, when the batting icon scored 326 and put on a world record stand of 664 runs with Vinod Kambli, who amassed 349.

Ahead of Tendulkar's farewell series against the West Indies and his landmark 200th Test, BCCI's chief administrative officer spoke with Harish Kotian on the impact his retirement will have on Indian cricket, his special attachment to Mumbai cricket and the game's true gentleman.

"Playing cricket at the international level for 25 years itself is an amazing feat. It only speaks of Tendulkar's commitment to the game. He has stayed fit and kept going. There have been ups and downs in his career, but he took it in his stride.

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In an eventful career he probably achieved every possible record in cricket, both in ODIs and Tests. More important than that was his behaviour on and off the field. In 25 years there never was an instance when a finger was pointed at him, except one, in South Africa, which was not his fault.

Apart from giving so much pleasure to his supporters worldwide, he always respected the game. Cricket is called a gentleman's game, and here is one true gentleman who is definitely a cause for that title.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar and Ratnakar Shetty (inset)
Photographs: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

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'Tendulkar is a great ambassador for the game and India'

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As far as the BCCI is concerned, he is a great ambassador for the game and India. He carries himself so well on and off the field and is respected and loved.

I think we now should leave him alone for some free time, because in the last 25 years his family has sacrificed so much. He is one cricketer who was not keen that his family watches him play cricket live because he wanted to focus on the game at all times. We must give him time to be with his family and enjoy his free time.

And at some stage I am sure he will contribute, not only to cricket but as a Rajya Sabha member. He is keen to contribute to all sports in India. I think when he puts forward some issues, it will not just benefit sport as such, but sportspersons too. I think the Government of India should take cognizance of his ideas; I am sure they will be valuable.

I saw him for the first time when he scored that world record in schools cricket. There was so much talk about him; even the Mumbai selectors spoke about him when he was so young. I remember Milind Rege and others saying he was a special talent; and then, of course, when he played for Mumbai.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

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'Tendulkar is a great ambassador for the game and India'

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When he played for India I was his manager in 1997 and 2004, on the Sri Lanka and Pakistan tours. We became very close after the 1997 tour and shared lot of time. People only talk about what he has achieved, but we must also remember what sacrifices he made to reach this stage. For the younger generation, particularly, he has a lot to offer. They will get a lot of coaches who will look after their cricket, but apart from that they can learn a few traits from him, like respecting the game, preparation for a game, temperament and discipline. He is a role model for youngsters, because he worked hard for whatever he has achieved.

Even today you will find him first on the ground when the Mumbai team comes for practice. He has an attachment to Mumbai cricket, the Mumbai Cricket Association and its Ranji Trophy team. He feels a Mumbai cricketer should play for Mumbai and fight for a place in the national team rather than leave Mumbai and play for other states. He is one person who does not subscribe to the thinking that I will go and play for some other state. He is a proud Mumbaikar and wants all its cricketers to contribute to Mumbai cricket.

When he retires, the first thing people will miss is his presence on the field. When he announced his ODI retirement he was playing fewer ODIs, but since he has been playing Test cricket for so many years continuously his absence will be felt.

In Sachin's retirement, we [BCCI] will miss a brand India cricketer. He is a brand and has contributed to Indian cricket as a brand over the years. He is a brand ambassador for the country too, as people in other countries love and respect him. That is one thing which will be missed when India tours.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: BCCI

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Why Tendulkar gave up captaincy in 1997

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In 1997, he was captain of the Indian team and always restless. That's because he wanted everyone to contribute in the same way as him. Somewhere that dissatisfaction happened and he ultimately gave up the captaincy. I think, for him, every match was important, every situation was important and everybody doing well for the Indian team was his priority.

Whenever he was free he would make himself available to play Ranji Trophy for Mumbai; even as late as last year. That is something remarkable. There was nothing left for him to achieve but he had an attachment which made him come and play for the state team and add value to it. He ensured that the boys learnt something from him. He always talks to the youngsters in the side and makes it a point to stress the importance of wearing the Mumbai logo.


Image: (Left to right): Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Pal Pillai/Getty Images

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'He has helped a number of causes, but never publicized anything'

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Off the field he has helped a number of causes, but never publicized anything. There is a Make a Wish Foundation which deals with terminally ill cancer children. Sachin used to make it a point to call the children during nets or go and meet them quietly. I know a child who came all the way from Pune, visited him at his home and was in touch with him over a period of time.

Then, there were four blind boys who came down from Buldana district and wanted to see Tendulkar. I arranged passes for them for the Test match in Mumbai. I then organised a meeting and brought them outside the dressing room. Sachin spent nearly half an hour with them despite having batted the whole day.

One of the boys said, 'you hit some really good square cuts'; so Sachin asked, 'how did you know?' The boy replied: 'I was listening to the commentary on radio'. He gave them time and made them feel comfortable. They were so excited talking to him.

Apart from being a great cricketer, Tendulkar is also a good human being. You will never find anyone complaining about him being arrogant.

We have to keep in mind that his last match is a Test. We will present him a memento at the start of the game. It will be done by the president of the BCCI. There is no event planned during the match, because we can't lose sight of the fact that this is a Test. In fact, he told me that people should not lose track of the fact that he is playing a Test match and India is playing too."


Image: Sachin Tendulkar interacts with fans during a promotional event in Mumbai
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

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