Legions of fans may adore him as god of cricket but Sachin Tendulkar insists that he is only a mortal who loves playing for his country.
"I'm glad so many people follow my career. But I am not a god. I just love cricket, playing for India," said Tendulkar, who completed 20 years in international cricket on Sunday.
India opener Virender Sehwag had said Tendulkar was not just a legend of the game but was actually the god of cricket.
Incidentally, former Australia opener Matthew Hayden also once famously said, "I have seen god, he bats at number four for India."
Tendulkar said he was just a cricketer, who happened to enjoy the support of a sea of humanity.
"I'm an individual but there is a huge force behind me, a big team. My teammates, family, kids, friends and fans. When I go out to bat, I play on their behalf," he said.
"I had not thought of playing for so long for the country but thanks to the support from all quarters I could play for 20 years for my country," he told NDTV.
In his illustrious 20 years of international cricket he has broken numerous batting records but Tendulkar said twice in his career he had thought his career was over.
"The first one was on my first Test against Pakistan. I scored just 15 and I thought whether I would get the chance to play the next match but I got. When I scored 58 or 59 in the second Test I was relieved," he said, recollecting that match in Karachi on November 15, 1989."The second one was when I had my tennis elbow injury. It was a tough time till I have my surgery. I could not sleep at night. I could not hit a cricket ball and I thought my career was over," Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar would rate his match-winning 140 against England last year in Chennai Test ahead of his 119 against a fiery Australian pace attack in Perth in his first tour Down Under in 1991, as it had come after the "horrible" Mumbai terror attack.
"I would say the Perth innings was one of my top innings. But the innings I played last year in Chennai would be ahead of all because of the horrible incident that happened in Mumbai just before that match.
"So many people lost their near and dear ones and nothing could have compensated for that. But by that win we were able to divert for a fraction of a second their attention from their sorrow and that was our credit," he said.
Asked whether he would like his son follow his footsteps and play cricket, Tendulkar said he would not force Arjun take up the game. "He is just 10 years old and he should be left alone. But I won't force him (to play cricket). If he is to play cricket it has to find way in his heart first and then go up to his head. This is not only for Arjun but for all the youngsters," Tendulkar said.
"At the moment he (Arjun) likes to hit a lot of sixes. Twenty20 ka jamana hai (Twenty20 is the current flavour)," he quipped. The two stints as India captain have been a grey area of sort in his otherwise illustrious career, but Tendulkar insists he enjoyed the experience "as a package".
"I did not feel that captaincy was too much of a burden. Obviously, it was an honour to captain my country. It was a different experience. We won a Test against Australia, won the Titan Cup, beat Pakistan in Toronto but failed to win against West Indies chasing 120 at Barbados.
"As a package I enjoyed it. It was about learning and I learnt from it," he said.
Tendulkar rued he could not be part of the history-making Indian team under Rahul Dravid that won a Test series in West Indies in 2006.
"That was a fantastic moment for Indian cricket. I would have loved to have been part of that team. I called up Rahul Dravid after the victory and congratulated the team," he said.
Asked what legacy he thinks he would have left for the future generation, Tendullkar said, "I want to be remembered as somebody who is unselfish, a team man, who always thinks for the team first." Sachin turned many women into cricket buffs: Jagdale (Ajay)
Indore, Nov 15 (PTI) One of the greatest contributions of Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar is to turn women of all ages into cricket buffs, BCCI Joint Secretary Sanjay Jagdale said on Sunday.
"Sachin, in last 20 years of his batting in international cricket scene has drawn Indian women of all age groups closer to cricket and turned them crazy for the game," Jagdale told PTI.
"When the little master made his debut in international cricket as a teenager, the Indian housewives saw their sons in him," Jagdale said.
The BCCI official also mentioned that Tendulkar, who completed 20 years in international cricket on Sunday, impressed many young talented girls and turned scores of them into cricketers as well.
Meanwhile, former India women's skipper Sandhya Agrawal said watching Tendulkar on song was indeed a learning experience.
"It is a great experience to watch Sachin batting. Girls, who wish to make a career in cricket, can learn a lot by watching Sachin's game," Agrawal said.