Last week, sitting in his hotel room, Sachin Tendulkar was in an upbeat mood. The reason for his delight was the sound the two new willows, he had received from his bat manufacturer, made.
“Just listen to it, isn’t it beautiful!” Tendulkar told his Mumbai Indians teammates who had walked into his room, repeatedly, tapping the sweet spot of his blade with his finger to hear the sound.For a man celebrating his 39th birthday today, the child-like glee about a bat confounds even his family and friends. "I would say the key to his longevity and success is the enjoyment he gets from playing. The biggest joy in his life is the sound of the bat hitting the ball," says his school captain, Mayur Kadrekar, who is also from coach Ramakant Achrekar's stable.
HIGH ON ENTHUSIASM
In Shardashram School parlance, the definition of enthusiasm is ‘bubbliness’. “His passion for batting stood out when he started playing and we see the same bubbliness in him even today,” adds Kadrekar.
After touching the highest peak, motivation becomes an issue and a drop in intensity is natural. The normal talk for a cricketer entering his 39th year would be ‘retirement’. However, even his close circle is stunned by the passion with which he talks about the game after having achieved whatever there is in it.
As he celebrates his birthday, the one way to describe his frame of mind is ‘totally relaxed’, say close friends. All his career he’s faced pressure but he admitted it was nothing compared to what he experienced last year.
BLAZE OF GLORY
The year 2011 had started with a lot of promise for Tendulkar when he clinched the World Cup at home and finished as the highest scorer. The ease with which he smashed two trademark centuries, which took him to 99, it looked like he only had to turn up for the next series and the milestone would be achieved.
However, the rest of his 38th year was spent chasing the landmark, which remained elusive. The pent up emotions came out in a torrent when he finally got to the mark in the Asia Cup. Probably for the first time, he openly admitted to the pressure he was under.
With the monkey off his back and nothing more to prove, the next year promises a lot, predicted Kadrekar. “We will get to enjoy his batting even more. He will bat more freely now and will be his aggressive self.”
Most of his birthdays have been celebrated away from home, in team hotels. Many won’t be surprised if the cake for the next one is also cut at a team hotel on the evening after a game.