MUMBAI (TIP): Fielding questions from the media with as much savvy as he did in delivering his farewell speech at the Test match, Sachin Tendulkar endeared himself to all women saying he shares his Bharat Ratna with all mothers who have made tremendous sacrifices for the sake of their children. “They have sacrificed everything and the beauty about it is till this date, I was never told we did this for you. When you grow up, you realise all those things. That’s the reason I feel this award is for my mother. And not just her -I would like to go a step further.
It is not just my mother but like my mother, there are millions and millions of mothers in India who sacrifice thousands of things for their children. So I would like to share this award with all the mothers for all the sacrifices they have made,“ he said on Sunday in his first interaction with the media after calling stumps on his 24-year career. He declared that he had retired at the “perfect time“ as his body was finding it tough to cope with the rigours of international cricket. Saying 75 per cent of his life had revolved around cricket, Tendulkar said he had “no regrets“ about hanging his boots after 24 years.
“It hasn’t struck me that I won’t play cricket again. It has been a dream journey, no regret that I am leaving cricket. This was the right time to stop playing cricket. It was an enjoyable journey.“ he said at a packed press conference. A day after retirement, Tendulkar says it hasn’t sunk in yet.
What did you do this morning?
I woke up at 6.50. I go according to my body clock. I suddenly realised that I didn’t need to quickly have a shower and get ready for a match. I made myself a cup of tea and enjoyed a nice breakfast with my wife. It was a relaxed morning. A lot of people had sent me their wishes, so I spent some time responding to those text messages and thanking them for their support and good wishes over the last 24 years.
Q Did it all feel like a dream, the cricketing journey?
That was a dream journey of 24 years but last night, when I sat back and thought about it, till now it has not sunk in that I won’t play cricket again. I will go somewhere and play some cricket. I have no regrets at leaving cricket. I felt it was the right time to stop playing cricket.
Q Fans want you to keep playing, how will you be associated with cricket?
It has been my life. I have said in an interview that cricket is my oxygen. Seventy five per cent of my life has been cricket. So at different levels, I will be associated with cricket, maybe not in the immediate future.
Q You had said you will stop playing when you will stop enjoying. How did you reach this decision to stop playing?
I was enjoying it, but honestly speaking, I have always maintained the day I get the feeling that I should stop playing cricket, I will definitely tell you. I remember there have been questions about my retirement for a few years and I have always said when I get the feeling, I will let you know. I got that feeling because I felt after playing 24 years, you have to appreciate that I had many injuries in the past and to overcome those injuries was not easy. I think somewhere down the line, a stage comes in life when your body gives you the message `enough’. Enough of this physical load. I think the body requires rest now.
So I thought the body is not able to take that load consistently. Earlier when I trained, everything used to happen automatically. Sometimes I used to feel of late that let me sit back and watch some TV. Thus, I requested the BCCI to have the last match in Mumbai because before this match,my mother had never seen me play a ball in my life. She never told me that she wanted to come to a match. I wanted it to be a surprise for her that I was making this arrangement for her. To answer the question, when I got the feeling that it is time to stop, I took that decision.
Q Do you still maintain you would play for India?
Even though physically I will not be playing for India, in my heart I will always be playing for India and praying for India’s victory. Whether I am a part of the team really doesn’t matter.What I think as an Indian that whenever India participates in any field, not just cricket, India comes first and then the rest.
Q On mentoring the next generation and starting a cricket Academy:
It’s a nice thought. I need to be involved with cricket and I would definitely be. It is not just because I have retired. Even before retirement, I have spent time with youngsters from U-19 teams to Ranji Trophy teams. I like interacting with players. It’s just nice to share your knowledge and understand sometimes their problems also which in return teaches you more about the game. It may not be done publicly, it may be done quietly at a very low profile but I would like to help the youngsters.
Q The lasting image, going back to the pitch and touching it…
That is where my life started. And those 22 yards have given me everything in life. Whatever I have achieved today is because of the time I spent between those 22 yards. It’s like a temple for me. So I just wanted to say a big thank you to cricket. When I decided to retire, my family was more emotional than me. I became emotional when I got the kind of send off from the players and while coming back from the wicket. Whenever I see those images on TV, that particular moment, I will get emotional.
Q Achrekar never said well played in 28 years and on Saturday he said well done after the government announced Bharat Ratna. Do you think it took too long for the compliment?
He had never said `well played’ and the reason was very clear. He didn’t want me to become complacent. He always reminded me that the game is bigger than any player and you have to respect it. He called me after the award announcement last night and said `well done’. He was happy, I was very delighted about it. The joy of receiving such awards enhances when you share it with some special people and that is what happened to me last night.
Q You endured a lot of injuries in the 24-year career. Shed some light on the recovery process?
When I had a surgery for tennis elbow, it took four and a half months to recover. I tried to come back earlier, but it was not possible. So I understood to respect nature and time. Sometimes, I felt that my career was over, that I might not be able to lift a bat again. After the tennis elbow sur gery, I could not even lift Arjun’s plastic bat. It was a difficult phase in my life and because of the support of a lot of people, I could come back so I would like to say thank all of them.
Q Are you happy with your last innings of 74 and what was your mother’s reaction?
My mother was extremely happy. Earlier I was not sure whether she would come or not because it’s a little difficult for her to travel. After the first day itself, I was worried that she might not be able to sit there for long. For safety I had also told MCA to keep a room for my mother at the Garware guesthouse. But my mother preferred to sit and watch each and every ball. It was special and when I went to meet her in the president’s box, I could see in her eyes what it meant. She spoke to me more through her eyes than her words.
Q On his son Arjun’s cricket journey:
As a father I will say leave alone Arjun. I will say let him enjoy the cricket and don’t burden him with expectations. If I had such pressure on me, then I would have pen in my hands because my father was a professor and he was in literature field. That time nobody has questioned my father as why your son has a cricket bat in his hand, and why not a pen? So, Arjun has opted for cricket bat in his hand, and he’s passionate about it. I will say that you need to be madly in love with cricket to bring the best, and he’s madly in love with it.
Q The best and most disappointing moments:
Winning the World Cup. It was my dream to win it, but I had to wait for 22 years, and that was such a long period. I will also say that Saturday was also a very special day . The way people responded to me. And the disappointing moments, I will say it came in the 2003 World Cup. It was big disappointment that we couldn’t cross the final hurdle despite playing well.
Q Where do critics stand in your book?
I observe it to a certain stage about who is writing and about what subject. Opinions will be available all around the world. A stage comes when you are convinced as to which person’s advice you should follow and who are the ones who offer constructive criticism and what is the motive behind it. I don’t think I have paid much attention to it because those who were guiding me were by my side and they didn’t hold a pen for a long time. They had either a bat in their hand or cricket thoughts in their mind to encourage me to perform better so that I could perform better. I was normally interacting with such people whose interests was in how I could make more runs. I didn’t think much about the critics.