For 23 years, Sachin Tendulkar has walked out to the middle donning the national colours. A considerable number of players who made their debut almost decade after Tendulkar have long walked into the twilight. The maestro’s work ethic sets him apart from the rest of his contemporaries and propelled him to play 463 ODIs, score 18426 runs at an average of almost 45.
Raising the bar on a consistent basis for 23 years is not possible with mere talent. It was Tendulkar’s undying love for the game and pride in representing the country that kept him going. His work ethic was a topic of discussion right throughout his career, and it made people from every field stop and take notice.
Below are a few quotes by some prominent personalities that speak volumes of the Little Master’s discipline.
“I don’t think there is a doubt in anyone’s mind that Sachin has God-given talent. What one does with that talent defines how he will be remembered in history. My fitness trainer from South Africa, Shayamal, who has been with me for four years now, was part of the Indian team when they played the World Cup in South Africa. The one story that he keeps repeating to us time and again is that of how Sachin would stay back daily after team practice and have him throw short pitch balls just to make sure he was able to have that extra edge when he needed it under pressure.” – Indian tennis stalwart Mahesh Bhupathi.
“Sachin discovered that his house, being in Bandra, would not allow him to be at Shivaji Park whenever he wanted. He now spends most of his time at his uncle’s house, just off this nursery of Bombay cricket. When he is not actually playing, that is. Quite often, he is playing all day; important because it has helped him build the stamina to play long innings. “- Harsha Bhogle in an article for Sportworld magazine almost 18 months before Tendulkar made his Test debut.
“I believe Sir Donald Bradman is the greatest of them all, but seeing Sachin Tendulkar bat, I can say that when he is in top flight, in a variety of conditions, I have seen the best. He has been a genius when it comes to ability, a Trojan when it comes to work ethic and manic when it comes to his focus. Yet we often miss the little things that make him both human and exceptional” – Vivian Richards.
“I think I throw more balls in the nets to him than anyone else. It’s little wonder that he’s been so successful over so many years because he treats every cricketing day with humility and respect and works as hard as he can on his game. He just loves the game. He wants to be out there, he wants to hit balls, he wants to practise. But I think it’s the way he practises which is the key. It’s a great lesson for young cricketers. He doesn’t take one ball for granted in a practice session. He tries to hit it perfectly every time and you’ll never see him having a loose net, or playing a loose shot. He gets very irritated when he gets out,” – India’s former coach Gary Kirsten after Sachin’s 50th Test century.
“The way Sachin approaches his life and cricket can only be an example – to every Indian cricketer. In spite of all his success, he is not a big headed person. He is still one who dreams. For him, the dream did not stop when he started playing for India. That is what tends to happen for most other cricketers, they just stop dreaming. On the contrary, the dream just began for Sachin when he started playing for the country and still goes on. That is the difference between him and others. The other important thing is that he does not limit his potential. He still trains the hardest, ball after ball. And no matter what people say, it is this hard work that has enabled him to reach his full potential.” – Mike Horn in an interview to CricketCountry’s Arunabha Sengupta.
“He continues to give more than 100 per cent and his schoolboy-like enthusiasm for the game is something I envy and admire. For the team he is the best available coaching manual.” – Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“It’s not just about talent but it’s how you use talent that makes you special. There have been a lot of players who had talents, but they have not continued for a long time and that’s what makes Sachin special. He uses his talent to the most,” – Sourav Ganguly.
“Right from the first time I saw Sachin, he prepares well for each and every Test match. That’s been his hallmark. Why he has done so well for so many years is because he takes each and every practice session so seriously irrespective of whether he’s reaching any milestone or not. The manner in which he prepares and makes sure he’s ready mentally and physically is outstanding. That’s why he has survived and has been a true match-winner for the country for so long.” – VVS Laxman.
“Tendulkar got his favourite support staff member Raghavendra to help with some fielding drills, generally left one wondering what he wanted from the KSCA ground staff. It soon became clear when he told Raghavendra to stand near the boundary line while he himself picked up the bat, threw the ball in the air and hit a few balls. The force he hit the ball with varied and that gave the game away. The perfectionist had noticed that the outfield seemed heavy and wanted to check out how much power was required to reach the boundary. It just went to prove the adage that behind every champion there are loads of preparation and that this man’s preparation included a lot more facets than is normal,” – an article in Times of India before the second Test against New Zealand at Bangalore in September 2012.
“The fact that he still turns up on an optional practice day to have a hit at the nets speaks about his hunger even at the age of 39. You can still see him enjoy his cricket, run around in the field and give it his best. It is not all about the hundreds. The 98 he made against us in the World Cup in 2003 was a classic and perhaps even more valuable than many of his centuries.” – Wasim Akram.
“Staying at the top for so long, this is what sets him apart from all other batsmen, indeed from all other cricketers perhaps other than the original Dr WG Grace. And the secret of his success? His mind. Tendulkar, I would venture, has the keenest cricket mind of anyone since Don Bradman. He analyses every bowler, picks up every cue, processes all the factors and works out the way he is going to bat. It is not his natural talent, his hand-eye co-ordination that sets him apart: we know that from his being turned away by a coach early in his career as not talented enough. It is his brain-hand-eye co-ordination that has made him supreme,” – Scyld Berry, Sunday Telegraph cricket correspondent.
(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal)