Sachin Tendulkar has for the first time admitted that the match-fixing episodes in 1999-2000 had initially affected his game and the Indian team had to go through a difficult and painful phase as "spectators looked at us with suspicion".
Tendulkar said that he was not in the right frame of mind during India's disastrous tour of Australia where they were thrashed 0-3 in 1999-2000. "I can tell you that I was never approached by anyone, neither we had any discussions about the same in the team meeting," Tendulkar told former South African Board president Dr Ali Bacher in an interview for Super Sport Channel.
"I remember that there was stage in 1999-2000 when it was very difficult as we were to play Australia. Before the series these things started making rounds. As a cricketer that's the last thing I want."
"You want your beloved game to be as clean as possible. I wanted the spectators to enjoy the contest and not look at us with suspicion. To play well, players need to be in right frame of mind and I can tell you that I was not in that frame of mind," Tendulkar said, recollecting the disastrous series.
The pain in his voice was evident as he gave the interview.
"Every match you play and people pass on loose comments. This was really hurting me and the whole team," said the maestro.
Tendulkar felt that their historic 2-1 series win over Australia at home was the turning point.
"I was sure that we needed to put up a very special performance against Aussies so that cricket lovers forget what has happened in the past and start enjoying the game again and move on. With grace of God we managed to do that.
"We lost the first match at Mumbai. But in the next match at Kolkata we fought back from very bad position and won that match to level the series. Last match was even harder. At Chennai while chasing small total we lost 8 wickets but won that Test match and series too.
"I was happy for the fact we forced cricket lovers to forget about that bad chapter and start following cricket again."
Recollecting the horror days of match fixing, Bacher revealed that the South African Board was indeed approached by bookmakers.
"We were directly approached by bookmakers to take their offer to the players through team meeting. Those were days when in couple of ICC meetings, I had raised this issue. The issue was not properly discussed and I was told to get evidence and proof," said Bacher.