2 little masters

Sunil Gavaskar, the original Little Master, savours Tendulkar in full flow. In an exclusive interview with the first 10,000 run-getter of the game and the world’s first 12,000 run man, CNN-IBN editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai dwells on cricket down the ages.
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Updated on Nov 02, 2019 01:03 AM IST
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You have scored more than a hundred hundreds between the two of you, if you include Test cricket and ODIs, but Sachin, 12,000 runs, has it sunk in? What does it mean to have scored 12,000 Test runs?

Tendulkar: To be honest, it hasn’t. I just want to enjoy my cricket rather than chasing records. I know if I go and do that, records will be broken automatically.

Did you feel the same way when you scored 10,000 runs?

Gavaskar: 10,000 was not something people looked at. When one got close to the 29th century mark of Sir Donald Bradman, the pressure used to build up every time you went to the ground.

How do you deal with pressure?

Tendulkar: It’s not easy to switch off. Our sub-conscious mind grasps all these things and stores it somewhere.

Mr Gavaskar, I still don’t quite believe that you never looked at the scoreboard even when you were on 99

Gavaskar: Yes, because I was not interested in how many runs I was batting on. I was only interested in knowing how many runs I had got after I got out.

Are you the same Sachin?

Tendulkar: No, I do look at the scoreboard.

In a sense, both of you had a very different approach to run making.

Gavaskar: I did it in sessions. If you did that at the normal scoring rate, you knew you would get your 100 somewhere.

Was that your philosophy too Sachin?

Tendulkar: A lot depended on my rhythm, my bat swing. If I felt everything was going well on that particular day, I would sometimes choose the bowlers to go after. Then there have been occasions when I went in with the frame of mind that I was going to bat for at least a session before looking to attack.

Both of you are run-machines but have done it very differently.

Gavaskar: There are different methods of getting runs. It also depends on the kind of game that you have, you could be a front foot player, a back foot player, you could be good on the off-side or your grip could be suited to an on-side game.

Sachin, you grew up hearing about the legend of Gavaskar. Yet your batting is very different.

Tendulkar: I had two heroes while I was growing up and they are still my heroes, Mr Gavaskar and Vivian Richards.

Is there a West Indian tucked inside Sachin somewhere. He is closer to Richards in a sense than Gavaskar?

Gavaskar: When he goes down the track to the spinners, his back-lift is so much like Richards. There is a lot of Richards in him except that Viv used to plonk his front foot there and whip everything down the leg. Sachin is classically correct, he would play mostly on the off side.

Do you want to bat like Sachin when you see him, especially in ODIs?

Gavaskar: Former cricketers have unfulfilled aspirations some times and when the next generation comes, there is a feeling of enjoyment. I enjoy watching Sachin, Sehwag bat, because they do the kind of things that I was not able to do. Probably, it was a mental block.

Sachin, is there something that you have learnt from the Gavaskar school of batting?

Tendulkar: Concentration, determination and the confidence to play fast bowling.

Did you ever go to Mr Gavaskar for special advice?

Tendulkar: Even before my Ranji debut, when he presented me his leg guards, I shared my thoughts with him and he shared his.

When you first saw Sachin, did you think he would score 12,000 runs?

Gavaskar: I have to be absolutely honest and say if he was not going to be weighed down by injuries, he was going to have all the batting records in the world. I had heard so much about him, I went and saw him from a corner at the nets because I didn’t want him to be conscious. I went home and told my wife that I had seen something really special.

What is that one quality you need to become a run machine?

Tendulkar: It’s the desire and it’s important to dream big.

One thing about Gavaskar’s game that you consciously tried to adapt?

Tendulkar: It is concentration and discipline.

What’s the one quality about Sachin that’s struck you?

Gavaskar: He has got balance on the field and that is helped to a great extent by balance off the field.

Do you believe it’s fair to compare a Tendulkar to a Gavaskar?

Gavaskar: It’s unfair because I would like to think what Sir Don Bradman said. His words were a champion in one era would be a champion in another era.

What was more difficult, facing four West Indian fast bowlers in the 70s or playing a mix of one-day, Twenty20 and Test cricket?

Tendulkar: Cricket is a difficult game and hats off to Mr Gavaskar at how he managed to play four genuine pacers without a helmet.

Sachin, do you also subscribe to the view that if you are a great player in one generation you are always a great player?

Tendulkar: Once you are a great player in a particular generation, it doesn't matter because that player knows how to adjust to different conditions.

Your proudest moment on the cricket field?

Gavaskar: It has to be the 1983 World Cup victory.

Tendulkar: For me it was the first time when I wore the India cap. Even today, nothing gets bigger than that.

Your best innings?

Tendulkar: My favourite would be the 100 in Perth against Australia in 1992.

Gavaskar: It was the innings of 57 at Old Trafford against England.

Who was the best bowler you faced?

Gavaskar: Andy Roberts.

Tendulkar: If I have to pick one, it would be Glenn McGrath.

If you had to pick one batsman to bat for your life, who would that be?

Gavaskar: The closest thing to batting perfection is Sachin Tendulkar, no question about that.

Tendulkar: Sunil Gavaskar and Vivian Richards.

What's the one piece of advice you would like to give Sachin today?

Gavaskar: I am not going to do that but what I will do is, not advise him, but I will make a plea, please regain the World Cup for us in 2011.

Sachin, is that the next goal then?

Tendulkar: It has always been a dream because that is the ultimate thing you can get for your country.


    Rajdeep Sardesai is senior journalist, author and TV news presenter. His book 2014: The election that changed India is a national best seller that has been translated into half a dozen languages. He tweets as @sardesairajdeep

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