Despite being a weekend, it turned out to be a field day for the scribes as they enjoyed a rare free-flowing discussion with milestone man, Sachin Tendulkar. Though there was a 40-minute interaction with the international media on Sunday afternoon before Tendulkar unveiled autographed memorabilia surrounding his feat of scoring 100 international centuries, the day's highlight turned out to be a 55-minute interaction with select media personnel that preceded the press conference.
With a backdrop displaying logos of each of the 17 brands he endorses, and that of his management firm World Sport Group, and with his wife Anjali perhaps attending his media interaction for the first time, a relaxed Tendulkar interacted with 20-odd representatives of major national media houses, including HT.
Tendulkar touched on a range of things, recalling the first Test century he scored in Manchester 21 years ago, explaining his god-fearing nature and how difficult he found to connect with the kind of music team mates far younger to him played in the dressing room. Sachin says
And he admitted he has no dream left unfulfilled on the field of cricket. "I don't have any other dream now. There were two big dreams - one was playing for India and the second was to lift the World Cup. That was my biggest dream," Tendulkar said.
So what keeps him going in One-Day Internationals, especially after achieving his biggest dream? "It is the passion for the game and as long as I feel the passion, as long as I feel the desire is there, as long as I feel I can go out and deliver, then I should be playing. But the day I feel I cannot do it, I cannot motivate myself even though I am performing, then it is time to have a re-look at my decisions. There might be phases where I am not performing well but if I am motivated enough and passionate enough then I need not worry," he said.
Whenever Tendulkar was asked about the 100-centuries milestone, he stressed he wasn't playing only to accomplish the feat. But he admitted the first time he thought of the feat was almost a decade ago. "I remember a long time ago, John Wright (then India coach) had told me 'you should be the first player to score international 100 hundreds'. That was way back, during the 2003 World Cup. We used to have many chats and this was during one, this is what he had told me, just to push me. The coach's job is to give the players that high and make sure they are in the frame of mind to deliver, and possibly John was looking to do that."
The jovial and philosophical Tendulkar turned aggressive when he was told he hadn't fully answered questions about his retirement.
"I have answered. Maybe you guys have not understood properly. I have always said that when I decide to retire I will let you know. Where is the question of not answering?" he retorted.
Does he see himself playing Test cricket in four years' time? "I don't know. When I started playing cricket, I didn't see myself playing for 22 years either. I don't know what is in store. It is in God's hands."