In a career spanning over 24 years, Sachin Tendulkar has got most of the batting records to his name and as he turned 40 on Wednesday, former captain Dilip Vengsarkar said that the senior batsman will have to take a re-birth to break his own records.
"I wish him a long innings. It is tough to tour South Africa (in November) and there he will complete 200 Test matches. That is an outstanding achievement. People come and ask me who will break Sachin's record. I don't think anybody can break his record. I think he will take re-birth, it will be Sachin Tendulkar to break his own record," Vengsarkar said.
Speaking at the launch of a book written on Tendulkar by New Delhi-based journalist Vimal Kumar, Vengsarkar recalled how a young Tendulkar had told the Bombay coach that he could have faced the last over of the day's play in the Ranji match against Hyderabad instead of sending the night watchman.
"We were playing in Hyderabad and they had scored some 180 runs. We had to bat an hour at the end (of day's play) and were 40 for two. I had signaled the dressing room and asked Kiran Mokashi to pad up. In the last over, unfortunately a batsman got out and Kiran came into bat. He was bowled two balls later and that was the end of the day's play.
"Sachin told our coach 'there was no need to send Kiran I would have batted that over'. That confidence he exuded at a very young age. And the coach came to me and told this and I was amazed to see his confidence. Next day I had a 120 run partnership with him," the former chief national selector said.
Vengsarkar also remembered how he had asked a 15-year-old Tendulkar to bat at the India nets at CCI and had to convince former World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev to bowl a few deliveries to the youngster.
"I had asked him (Tendulkar) to come and bat at Indian nets and we were in the midst of a series against New Zealand. I asked Kapil Dev, Arshad Ayub, Chetan Sharma and Maninder Singh to bowl at him. They were not very happy about it, because he was very small. They thought India captain is asking us to bowl to this kid. I said Kap just bowl a few deliveries so that we can assess his talent and he played very well," Vengsarkar said.
He rated Tendulkar's performance in one of the Australian tours as the best and said, "I still remember his innings at the Perth Test. I have seen many great players Viv Richards, Sunil Gavaskar but that innings was absolutely mind blowing," he added.
Tendulkar was made the captain twice and had moderate success each time and former India pacer Balwinder Singh Sandhu said had the veteran got a good support staff, the result could have been different.
"When he became the captain, the support staff wasn't that professional as it is today. Later, John Wright came and I think Sourav (Ganguly) was lucky to have him. If he (Wright) had come as support staff (when Sachin was the captain) then he could have groomed him for captaincy. He was passionate, good leader and lead from the front. If at that time he had got a good coach, he would have done better," Sandhu said.
Former India opening batsman Madhav Apte recalled how the Cricket Club of India had to change its rules to allow the then 14-year-old Tendulkar use its dressing room when he featured in local cricket tournaments in the late 1980s.
"I happened to be the CCI president. Raj Singh (Dungarpur) and I discussed Sachin's batting and we said we should encourage him by giving him an opportunity to play. We ran into a technical problem. You cannot enter the club house without completing 18 years of age. Raj Singh said what do we do. I said Raj rules are meant to be bent or broken, this is an exceptional talent. Sachin became the only child to become a playing member of CCI team.
"If you have to think about a mythological character, he is like Ekalavya. He sees only one thing that is the game of cricket. I am not surprised with Sachin, the way he was brought up, that upbringing has also contributed," Apte said.
Lalchand Rajput, who captained Bombay when Tendulkar made his Ranji Trophy debut, said he was amazed by Tendulkar's commitment and focus.
"He made his debut when I was the Ranji captain. The next game was in Saurashtra and those days we used to travel by train. We arrived in morning. We said at 9.30 we will meet at the breakfast table. Everybody was there at 9.30 but to our surprise Sachin was not there at the table. We thought he must have slept in his room so every body tried to knock but nobody opened the door. We were worried.
"To our surprise, he was at the terrace with a hanging ball in the sock and he was knocking. That shows his passion. We told him to come to have breakfast. He said breakfast can be had at anytime. He said 'I have come for cricket so let me have a knock'," he said.
Former India player Sanjay Bangar recollected how Tendulkar played the 2003 World Cup with a hand injury and still amassed over 600 runs.
"There was a jewel missing in his crown, which got completed in 2011. The World Cup trophy that he wanted, he was very passionate about it. In 2003, I was part of the team and that was outstanding World Cup for him. The entire tournament, he played with a hand injury. He had injury to his top hand and despite that he gave a good performance.
"I remember the India-Pakistan match. We had a stiff target to chase (274). With Shoaib Akhtar and Waqar Younis it was a good attack. The joy he felt, I have never seen such an atmosphere in the dressing room. After that win, he celebrated a lot. It mattered a lot to him. That day, he dropped his guard down and forced everyone to have a puff of cigarette or have a sip of beer," Bangar said.
Tendulkar's schoolmate and Mumbai teammate Amol Muzumdar praised Tendulkar's elephant memory and said he was surprised at the senior player's remarkable ability to remember his innings even in school cricket.
"In 1999, we were having a quiet dinner and all friends were sitting together and he happened to remember a school game at cross Maidan plot number seven in 1986. Sachin was already a star in India and was just about to go for the World Cup. To everyone's amazement Sachin knew after 100 odd Test matches, which game we were talking about.
"Not only that, he exactly remembered how many runs he had scored. He told me it was 125 and I went home and saw it in my scrapbook and that was correct. He also knew which bowler he got out to. He said it was an off spinner and got out lbw. After such stardom and all those achievements he exactly knew which bowler he got out to and how many runs he scored in his school game," Muzumdar said.
Asked if he ever expected Tendulkar to be still playing at 40, Muzumdar said, "I think Sachin is meant to break rules and regulations. At 14 he became a member of CCI club. He broke the rule over there. He broke the rule when he went to Yorkshire as the first overseas player.
"Yorkshire were so stubborn that they never allowed any overseas professional player to play but Sachin Tendulkar broke the rule and went to play for Yorkshire as their first overseas player. It is generally assumed in India that 35 and above, your career is finished. But Sachin Tendulkar is meant to break rules and regulations so I am not at all surprised that he is still batting even when he is 40."