To me, longevity is the hallmark of greatness and Sachin epitomises that. That’s talking pure sport. But when we begin to judge greatness as a human being, then anyone’s greatest asset is humility. Sachin’s poise and composure in the face of constant public scrutiny is remarkable, in fact, it’s almost superhuman.
Over the years, I have met him a number of times but the one interaction ingrained in my mind is the time we spent together at the Taj Exotica in Goa. It was December 2000 and we had gone down there for an Adidas commercial.
Now, I earn my living from my skill with a racquet and consider myself pretty good at most racquet games. So I was not really too bothered about being able to hold my own when Sachin challenged me to a game of table tennis.
I went in confident, but in a short while I was shellshocked. The man has incredible skill with the paddle and his reflexes are razor sharp. He literally destroyed me.
Neither of us is known for giving up easy. What began as fun became a fierce contest of wills and we played over 30 games. I won about 10.
The incredible bit was his ambidexterity.
He could rip winning smashes with either hand! I am convinced that he would have been world-class no matter what sport he played. Cricket is lucky he chose to redefine that particular sport.
(As told to Sukhwant Basra)