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Don't constantly think about cricket: Tendulkar to Kohli & Co

By HARISH KOTIAN
Last updated on: April 24, 2020 11:06 IST
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'You can take a bit of off-time from cricket, mentally as well as physically.'

Sachin Tendulkar

IMAGE: Sachin Tendulkar at the 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin, Feburary 17, 2020.
Sachin being lifted on the shoulders of his team-mates after the 2011 World Cup triumph was voted the Laureus Best Sporting Moment in 20 years. Photograph: Boris Streubel/Getty Images for Laureus

April 24 is a big day for cricket fans worldwide as they celebrate the birthday of one of the greatest cricketers ever.

Sachin Tendulkar was born 47 years ago this day in Mumbai to Rajni and Ramesh, a Marathi novelist and poet.

This year, there will be no celebrations. India and the world is in the midst of a war against coronavirus, and Sachin has decided not to celebrate his birthday.

He urged his fans to follow lockdown guidelines to the fullest, using a popular cricketing terminology to bring about awareness -- 'they should not get out, they should stay in their crease.'

How is the lockdown affecting Sachin's life? What does he think of the changes underway in cricket and sport?

"To have spectators is really important for the game. It would be hard to imagine Roger Federer playing against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon and there is nobody watching him or cheering him. It wouldn't be the same," Sachin tells Rediff.com's Harish Kotian in the first of a two-part exclusive interview.

 

IMAGE: Sachin cuts his birthday cake watched by wife Dr Anjali Tendulkar, Michael Clarke, Brad Hogg and Diana Edulji at an event in Mumbai, April 23, 2018. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

What would be your message in these troubled times on your 47th birthday?

I won't be celebrating my birthday.

My message to all my fans, all my well wishers -- for such a long time, they have supported me, wished well for me, prayed for me; and what did they pray for? That Sachin should not get out, that Sachin should score runs -- my wish for all of them is that they don't get out, they should also stay in their crease (house) and stay healthy and safe.

The coronavirus pandemic has left sport at a standstill. The T20 World Cup in October-November is in doubt.
Do you think cricketing nations should come together and think of reworking the world calendar in such a way that at the end of the year we could have both the IPL and T20 World Cup in succession because both are T20 formats and could complement each other?

There could be, there could be that possibility. Nobody knows what the future is. Nobody knows where we would be after a few months.

And if this is fitting into our calendar, then I am sure the ICC will take this into consideration and look at it because there was a lot of talk about the World Cup being shifted to India or maybe look at a shorter version of IPL.

I don't know the exact number of days available, so I won't be in a position to comment on what it is. But I am sure the ICC, Cricket Australia and the BCCI will amicably sit together and decide and agree upon something and find a way forward which will bring a lot of smiles on fans's faces.

Talking about fans, coronavirus could completely change the sporting world. Can you imagine playing a match without fans in the stadium?

No, I have not. It is difficult to imagine that because I have always believed that when a batsman hits a boundary, he draws a lot of energy from the crowd.

The way they respond, the way they cheer for you, the way they support (you). And the same thing applies to a bowler, if he is bowling well, if he has picked up a wicket, he also draws a lot of energy from them.

So to have spectators is really important for the game. It would be hard to imagine Roger Federer playing against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon and there is nobody watching him or cheering him. It wouldn't be the same.

There is some debate about applying saliva to the ball. Would that stop in a post-coronavirus world? Also, some traditions like players celebrating a wicket by hugging each other.

Because players are conscious of social distancing and maintaining certain hygiene levels that is what I feel could change. Players would discuss it, no doubt.

Giving high fives and hugging and all that after they picked up a wicket would change, I think.

As an UNICEF ambassador, that is what I've tried to give a message to everyone about maintaining hygiene -- washing your hands as frequently as possible, using soap. To maintain certain hygiene (levels), which will help you to keep yourself healthy.

Nothing is guaranteed, but these are the precautions one needs to take. These are the simple things we can manage to do and we should do.

Our cricketers were used to travelling the year around. Suddenly, they have been restricted to their homes after the lockdown.
How would you advise them to spend this time at home? This lockdown can get to some of them mentally, like the anxiety of what is going to happen next?

My advice would be that you don't have to constantly think about what should I do to improve my game.

You can take a bit of off-time from cricket, mentally as well as physically. Anyways, right now many things can't happen.

Once you have done that, when you feel recharged, then you can start thinking about cricket mentally as well as physically.

So, physically, there could be some batting drills which could be done at home. There could be mental drills about batting or bowling or whatever, those could be done at home.

So, there are always two elements, one is physical and the other one is mental. And when they both carry each other, that is when the output is much better.

So I would say work on the physical aspect as well as the mental aspect.

I am sure they must all be training so that part is taken care of. But when it is within batting itself, you have two elements -- one is doing your drills physically, and then thinking about it mentally. So you got to work on both elements.

IMAGE: Sachin presents the first copy of his autobiography Playing It My Way to his mother Rajni, November 5, 2014.

How are you spending your time during the lockdown?
Cooking is one of your hobbies so are you cooking new dishes for your family?

Normally, spending time would be gym in the morning, connecting with my office staff over the phone. My company SRTSM, I am looking into a number of things that we have done and what we want to achieve.

Giving back to the community, the less privileged ones -- what we have been able to do and what is it that we want to do for the rest of my life. So we have got those plans as well and working on those.

Speaking to officials from the government and the messages they want us to give. Quite a few people have been giving out messages and I have been one of those, to tell people more about how to deal with things, and what is safe for them during these times.

I am also spending time with my family. In the evening I spend time with my children, with my wife and my mother.

I am also watching TV, listening to music, playing board games, cooking occasionally, Giving myself a haircut, that I have managed.

So all in all, it is a busy day. It is not that I am just sitting at home and doing nothing.

I continue to do different things. I also talk to my friends over the phone, keep in touch with them.

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com
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