Ramakant Achrekar, cricket coach of Sachin Tendulkar, watches Tendulkar scoring his 100th century, on a television set at his house in Mumbai. Sachin Tendulkar became the first batsman in history to score 100 international centuries, adding another milestone in his record-breaking career. AFP Photo
While wishing Sachin a happy birthday, I want to tell him that he has fulfilled almost all my dreams, and for him to not leave any of them unfulfilled, he must not retire now. He must go on playing and scoring runs for the country.
THE UNIQUE KID
Unique, that is what I felt Sachin was as a kid. There was something about the way he would hold his bat. And his ability to go on the back foot and slam the ball straight back was unbelievable. It was clear that the kid was immensely talented. From those days itself, I knew he was destined for something big. In fact, somewhere within, I believed that this boy would break records, something that he has done today.
He was always enthusiastic about his game. He would take everything that I would tell him positively. And he would love to try and do whatever he did correctly. If there was a mistake, he would want to correct it. Also the way he embraced the coin challenge, presented by me, wherein he would get a coin if could bat out a session without being dismissed, showed his hunger to accept challenges.
This year has been a bit up and down for Sachin but then such things happen.
They won the World Cup recently but he was down with injuries after that, so the lack of form should have never been a worrying factor. I love it when he plays his natural game and whenever he does so, he reaps rich rewards.
We should not forget that he scored his 100th hundred this year. What an achievement! And it was such a big moment in his career. I was the happiest when he got the hundred because the delay in achieving it was making me nervous.
When Sachin would come close to scoring that century and then be dismissed, I would have major mood swings and get tense. I would wonder whether he would be able to score it or not, that too after having come so close.
I can see that his form is picking up, and it is a matter of time before we see him score those magnificent runs again. Now that he has got his 100th century, he will play freely.
I know one thing that my Sachin is going to play better than ever. He is far from finished. In fact, those who even bring up talk of his retirement are wrong. This is not the right time. So, all those murmurs about his retirement must stop.
I know he has been getting injured but then injuries are part and parcel of a sportsperson’s life. He must try and prevent them but should not get bogged down. If he takes proper care, he will remain injury-free.
The India team has been going through a rough patch lately, and I believe it is Sachin who will help them sail out of it. He will score those crucial centuries to help the team do well once again.
For me, Sachin is the best batsman the world has seen. We may find another great but I do not think we will ever get a player of his calibre. The day he retires, the loss will be irreplaceable. Not only will the country feel it, but the world of cricket will miss him.
As told to Anand Sachar