Tendulkar still a talisman for millions
The ace Indian batsman has set one record after another since he burst on to the international scene as a 16-year-old. Wish him good luckUpdated: Oct 27, 2005 15:28 IST
Sachin Tendulkar has suffered so many injuries in the last few years he would easily earn the sympathy of express fast bowlers prone to frequent breakdowns.
India's leading batsman has set one record after another since he burst on to the international scene as a 16-year-old, to be regarded among cricket's all-time greats.
However, problems attributed largely to wear and tear have taken their toll on the diminutive player. Since 1999, when he suffered serious back spasms, he has been plagued by toe, finger, ankle, hand and elbow injuries.
The 32-year-old is hoping to shake off his latest setback, a nagging elbow injury which needed surgery and sidelined him for six months.
Tendulkar will return against Sri Lanka in a home one-day series starting on Tuesday, to the relief of millions of avid fans who were concerned about whether he would be able to come back.
Many experts feel he may no longer be the explosive player he was at his prime. Injuries have forced Tendulkar to curb his carefree approach. He now relies more on deft flicks and touches than his patent straight drives and lofted shots.
Tendulkar himself is relieved to be back.
"It has been very frustrating, April 17 was the last game I played," he said after returning to action in a domestic one-day match earlier this month.
Tendulkar holds the record for both one-day runs, 13,642, and hundreds, 38. He jointly holds the record for most Test hundreds (34) with compatriot Sunil Gavaskar, having also emulated him by scoring more than 10,000 Test runs.
He said his love for the game remained intact.
"Playing for India is special," he said. "Only when you're kept away from the game by this kind of injury, something clicks inside you, whatever has happened in the last 16 years is special."
His enthusiasm for the game has endured, particularly as an occasional bowler to break partnerships. He is said to have even made an improbable attempt to become a fast bowler by approaching an Indian pace academy as a teenager.
Coach Greg Chappell was quick to welcome him back, urging him to act as a mentor to the youngsters being tried out with an eye on the 2007 World Cup.
"I hope this is the start of another successful phase for him," Chappell said. "I'm hoping that he will pass on the knowledge and experience...to the next generation."
His role would be particularly crucial after a recent spat between Chappell and Saurav Ganguly. Ganguly, India's most successful Test captain, was sacked this month due to his prolonged batting slump and an elbow injury.
Tendulkar, having had two stints as captain, already seems to have galvanised younger team mates, who sought him out at last week's training camp in Bangalore.
India, facing a busy season ahead, would require every possible input from their most established player.
They host a one-day series against South Africa from November 16 and play three Tests against Sri Lanka.
For millions of Indian fans Tendulkar still carries their hopes as he did on his arrival as a teenage prodigy and just the sight of their talismanic player going out to bat will be assurance enough.
First Published: Oct 24, 2005 13:13 IST