Amid endless talk and reams of writing on how inexperienced this Indian team is, the most senior player in world cricket is trying his best to share his knowledge with the younger lot. Sachin Tendulkar had been seen paying extra attention to the juniors on this tour and it was no different at the nets on Thursday.
Virender Sehwag is the second in terms of seniority in this team, having made his international debut in 1999 and that was 10 years after Tendulkar had cut his teeth in the world of topflight cricket. Having relinquished captaincy, he is playing the role of leader cum mentor in his own way and the juniors are enjoying every moment of it.
“He is sharing his experience and passing on tips all the time,” said a player to have joined the squad after the Test series. “He is telling us what sort of adjustments to make in these conditions, how we should grip the bat and how to tune ourselves mentally. It’s fascinating because he has such a wealth of knowledge.”
A day before the start of the tri-series in Brisbane, Tendulkar was seen taking Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Robin Uthappa and Manoj Tiwary to a corner and speaking to them. It was learnt he spoke on how to prepare against each bowler, how to play shots and also, how not to play them. “He said that it’s important to back your instinct and equally important to curb it as well,” said a player. “He spoke about getting the right balance.”
Even on Thursday, the players surrounded him in a circle of sorts before the practice session. “His experience is vital to the players. These players don’t know much about conditions in Australia. Among other things, Sachin told them to approach this nets session as if they were batting or bowling in a match,” said cricket manager Lalchand Rajput.
“It’s amazing to see how easily approachable he is. I’m not surprised because I had seen him being so down to earth earlier,” said one of the junior members of the squad. “If there is something stunning about him, it’s his unrivalled ability to explain situations and how to conduct yourself in such situations.”
To his own admission, captaincy was something he was not comfortable with. If helping others learn how to go about their job in international cricket is a part of captaincy, Tendulkar is doing that with the exuberance of a youngster in what seems to be the last lap of his career. Going through a critical phase, Indian cricket can only thank him if his efforts bear fruit.