Sachin Tendulkar’s teammate on his Ranji debut, and now coach, Sulakshan Kulkarni swears by Tendulkar’s love for the game. “It was an honour to be Sachin’s last Ranji coach. His attitude has not changed one bit over the years,” declared Kulkarni.
It is not surprising for a cricketer to leave the field during the course of a four or five-day fixture to snatch some relief. But Tendulkar did not do so.
“For the duration that the team was on the field, Tendulkar did not leave,” he asserted.
Tendulkar’s hunger to contribute starts to build before the day’s play.
“Despite a lot of security and fans making it difficult to practice, Tendulkar went about his usual knocking,” said Kulkarni.
If the master’s conduct on the field is a learning experience, he also has advice to offer in the hut.
“In the pavilion, he was relaxed and would help youngsters with the smallest of problems. He even spoke during team meetings. He told the youngsters to remember to follow their passion,” said Kulkarni.
“He recalled how watching the Mumbai Ranji nets as a 15-year-old inspired him to be there one day. He also told them to remember that it was not because of anyone that they were playing but because of their talent.”
Tendulkar’s uncharacteristic knock in the second innings to see the team home reaffirmed the value of results. “Even in his last domestic innings, he reminded the youngsters to grind it out,” said Kulkarni.
“While we wanted to give him a farewell win, it was his 79 that gave us a return gift!”