Even in the real world, Harbhajan Singh is one Sachin Tendulkar’s closest friends. They share a special bond that strengthened when Tendulkar stood by him during the 2008 Monkeygate episode.
Tendulkar never left his side – through all those times when Harbhajan was dropped to make way for Anil Kumble as the only spinner in the XI, mostly in overseas Tests, or when his action was questioned. Excerpts:
Has it sunk in yet? An Indian team without Tendulkar….
I am very sad and emotional right now. Whether I get to play with him again or not, the news that he’s going is hard to digest. It’s going to be very difficult for the nation to digest this. When you spend 14 years with someone in the dressing room, you share a lot of great moments. It’s going to be very tough for a lot of us. But I guess that’s just the way it is. It was bound to happen at some point. We just have to get over it and move on. It’s like Indian cricket is splitting with its lover.
What will they miss about him?
They’ll miss Tendulkar and that itself is a big thing in the dressing room. People are not used to seeing matches without him around. Most of all, the players will miss his presence in the dressing room. The new generation will miss his guidance. Nobody will ever gain so much respect in the dressing room. Here was a guy who everybody and anybody could go and talk to, at any stage. He was always more than happy to help them. And I feel sorry that these youngsters won’t have him around.
Of all his qualities, what stands out the most?
Look, it’s very difficult to become what he has become. Mortals like you and I can only hope and pray. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication to get where he has. But of course all these things will not make a Tendulkar. You have to be born with such talent – those qualities he had – they are very difficult to find. He is the complete cricketer, with a brilliant mind. Most importantly, nobody knows their game better.