We first heard about this boy from Bombay in late 1988. Dilip Vengsarkar was captain of Bombay and India and he spoke highly of him. Ironically, when it came to picking the team for the 1989 Pakistan tour, it was Vengsarkar who Tendulkar replaced, but by then the 16-year-old had scored tons on debut in Ranji, Duleep and Irani matches.
When we went to Pakistan, and I led the team, my job was to give the youngsters some confidence. One of the first things I did was to tell Sachin that he would play all four Tests, irrespective of what he scored. I remember Sachin’s brother was on that tour and I spoke to him separately, asking him to give his brother the confidence he needed.
But really, even though Sachin was shy and reserved, he already had confidence in himself. Just as his back-foot play was assured and precise, he was also a very composed individual.
The incident I remember most fondly happened when Sachin took apart Abdul Qadir in an unofficial game. We needed eight an over and when Sachin started hitting Qadir for sixes against the spin I, as the senior player, walked down the pitch to tell him to take it easy. He just waved and sent me back, as if to say, ‘I know what I’m doing. I’ll take care of it.’ And he has done that with Indian cricket over the last 20 years.
( Srikkanth, who was Sachin’s first Test captain, is currently chairman of selectors, spoke to Anand Vasu )