'I was touched by the trust the nation expressed in me'
Sachin Tendulkar feels that he can't thank his countrymen enough for the amount of faith they have showed in his integrity during his 21 illustrious years in international cricket.
In the recently released book Sach written by noted scribe Gautam Bhattacharya, one gets to know the rare emotional side of the maestro as he spoke on a host of issues including how the entire country supported him during the ball-tampering episode in 2001 tour of South Africa.
He also spoke about how he dealt with the ugly match-fixing episode, and the tragic 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai.
Referring to episode of ball-tampering when match-referee Mike Denness handed him a one match ban on allegations of trying to lift the seam during a Test match at Port Elizabeth, Sachin has been quoted as saying, "But despite the incident, I was so happy for the trust and faith that the entire country expressed in me.
"At times, it has been written that a nation walked with me every time I went out to bat. Here there was no bat. Yet they showed such faith in my integrity that I was touched. Till date I can't forget that."
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
'At no stage did I pick the seam'
Tendulkar, who has been a picture of dignity during his long international career did admit being "shattered" with allegations levelled by Denness.
"You know, I was completely shocked and shattered when he said the charge against me was for ball tampering. I tried telling him what the truth was. That I was just cleaning the grass on the ball. I was not picking the seam. At no stage did I do that.
"If someone is trying to remove grass, how can you levy ball-tampering charges against him? But the match referee would hear none of it. Since then, whenever I clean the ball, I keep the umpires posted."
When the murky episode of match-fixing rocked the nation, Tendulkar was like a picture of resilience.
When asked about his feelings during the entire fixing-saga, the holder of a world record 97 international centuries, said, "I was just doing what every Indian was supposed to do. I was just doing my duty and did not think it was any different from what I had done in the past. I was just following the same routine....
"Around that time, I received a certificate from Income Tax department for paying my taxes honestly. That gives me a lot of satisfaction. I was just hoping that my father had been alive to see it," said the man who still looks heavenwards and utters a silent prayer in the memory of his father Ramesh Tendulkar, everytime he completes a ton.
Image: Sachin Tendukar
'I couldn't come to terms with 26/11'
Talking about the tragic 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai, Tendulkar also spoke about the pain he went through as innocent Indians lost their lives.
"We were playing at Cuttack (against England). At night we came to know about the attack. Of course, first you call home and enquire about the safety of your near and dear ones.
"Then keep glued to TV to try and find out what exactly is going on. What was happening to the nation was difficult to digest.
"I felt very sad and couldn't come to terms with it. I was almost numb and didn't know what had hit me. It took a while to get myself back on track. That must surely rank as one of the most disappointing days of my life," he said.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar