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August 20, 1999


The Rediff Interview /Sachin Tendulkar

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'What I asked of the players is 100 per cent effort'

Sachin Tendulkar Chennai was as hot as you like. Hot enough, anyway, to have the members of the national cricket team, getting back together after a break of over a month, sweating.

While the remaining members of the team -- and backup bowlers like Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra -- went through their paces, Sachin Tendulkar, re-appointed captain of the Indian team, was elswhere, getting his back seen to.

Harsha Bhogle caught up with him later. Excerpts from their conversation:

Sachin, it's been some time now since you've been re-appointed captain of India -- are you getting used to the idea of being captain again?

It's been over 20 days now, I am getting used to the idea, I am quite happy about it... very excited, and looking forward to the new series.

It's interesting that you have made some fairly strong statements in recent times, especially about the need to perform -- it is almost as if you are saying that if they don't perform, you won't have place for them in the side...

Not exactly. The statement I made was that I was expecting 100 per cent effort. Effort has to be there. If you can't put in 100 per cent effort, then what's the point in playing? There are ups and downs, sometimes you may perform well, sometimes you may not, but the effort, putting the effort into it all the time, that is very important. And that is what I am looking for.

Basically then, what you are asking for is more commitment...

Sure, because when you play for India you have to be committed. There are times when lethargy sets in, and that is the time to pull up your socks.

Somehow, for the lay viewer, when you play for India the commitment is always taken for granted. Isn't that how it always is?

Yeah, that is what everybody expects of you, but there are times when you are mentally low, physically not as active, and that is the time to push as hard as possible, and that is what I want from the players.

You also mentioned somewhere that you are looking at a horses for courses policy, select the right kind of people for the right kind of tour...

That is very important, because X player might work abroad, but might not do as well in India, whatever, you know... Some players might be very good in India but might not be good abroad. So you have to... I think analysing the player is more important than just looking at the performance.

So are we going to see a different approach to the captaincy?

I'll stick to the same things, because the last time when I was captain, I tried my level best to win all the games for India, and now once again I am captain, and I want to win most of the games for India, and that is what I must try and do. As captain, I have always thought in terms of the interest of the team, so there is no need to change that now.

You've been more hands on than say Azharuddin, you've always talked of the need to keep telling cricketers, your team-mates, their responsibilities, so in that respect you are more hands on...

I am not going to say that Azhar didn't do it, but each different person has a different style of approach, so my style is probably different from Azhar's, I would certainly like to go up to the player and tell him this is what I expect from you, this is your responsibility. Each and every individual, his performance level is going to be different from that of the others, so you have to expect from each player what he can give.

One of your biggest efforts seems to be tackling inconsistency -- we seem to be brilliant one day and not so good on the other...

Well, that is very important, we have to be very consistent, and most importantly start winning abroad.

So how do we go about doing that? When you look at it on paper, we are a very good team, so what is it that is causing this inconsistency?

I can only work that out on the field, I can't answer it here in theory.

It's interesting that you've talked about specialised coaching. It is something we haven't talked about before in India, but you've hinted that you wouldn't be averse to the idea...

I was actually asked a question, I had to answer that question and what I said was that it was actually not a bad idea. I am not saying it is going to work out, or it is not going to work out, unless we try it out it would be very hard for me to comment about it.

I think England has tried that, Australia has tried that with some success, so I guess there is no reason why it shouldn't work...

I think there are many more people who are capable of taking these decisions, so for now I guess I'll leave it to them.

One of the things -- and we've already spoken to Anshuman Gaekwad about this -- is that there seems to be no competition for places in this Indian team. Too many people, I mean they are doing very well, but they are not being pushed for places...

I feel we have to start playing on good, true tracks... domestic cricket is what I am talking about. And that is how the standard of playing is going to improve, so we have to start concentrating more on the domestic circuit.

Sri Lanka has some unhappy memories, you have to go out there and erase them...

Well, I look forward to that. Whatever has happened in the past, I like to leave it behind. There were plus points and minus points, this is a new tenure and I look forward to that.

You've already established yourself in a way by asking for two additional players in the camp -- you asked for a left armer and an off spinner, what were the reasons behind that?

I feel they are promising youngsters, and I think it is time to encourage many more youngsters in India. This time it is Harbajan (Singh) and (Ashish) Nehra, I'd like to look at many more youngsters, get to know what they are.

Yeah, one of your problems would be that since you are playing so much for India, you wouldn't get to see as much as you like of some of the other youngsters...

Yeah, this is one way of having a close look at some of these youngsters, so... Nehra bowling to Saurav, Rahul, it's a different story altogether, the youngster gets that exposure and also, he carries that confidence when he goes back to domestic cricket.

Are you disappointed at press reports that talk about your "friend" being selected for the Indian team?

I am very disappointed, because it is very hard to accept that people in India think like this. My mind doesn't work that way, I am captain of India and not of Shardashram, so I have a very broad mind, I have to see who is good for India and it is in the interest of India that I am taking all the decisions. Last time when I was captain the last time in Sri Lanka, Vinod Kambli didn't play a single game and nobody commented about that. So friendship is all off the field, not on the field.

Now, you've made some strong statements about the need to perform at this level to stay in the team, it is almost as if you are saying perform or else...

I made a statement saying that I want 100 per cent effort from the players. There are going to be ups and downs, nobody is a machine which scores 100 runs every day or takes five wickets every day. I am not so worried about the performance, I only want 100 per cent from the players, total dedication and application, it's just a matter of six hours, and I am sure we will start doing better.

You are very positive about the team you are taking to Sri Lanka...

I am very hopeful and I am very confident about the players, we have played enough together, we are keeping our fingers crossed...

Back to sub-continental conditions after playing in England, back to trying to get 85, 90 in the first 15 overs?

No, we've just got to see what happens there actually, we have not played in Galle, we have not seen the wickets and the ground, so we can't have ideas sitting here in Madras, sitting here you can't think of what you are going to do out there, but you can certainly plan what you are going to do at the Khettarama Stadium and the SSC.

It's interesting because we thought you might need the extra spin bowler, but you've picked the additional seam bowler..

It rains in Sri Lanka, so when the game is shortened, a medium pacer comes in handy.

Okay, thanks, Sachin, all the best...

Thanks Harsha...


Mail Harsha Bhogle