'It was difficult to take 16-year-old Sachin Tendulkar out of the cricket ground’

“Sachin Tendulkar used to practice even inside the dressing room,” says the author © PTI

By Chandu Borde

I was the Indian team’s manager on the tour to Pakistan in 1989 and a 16-and-a-half-year-old Sachin Tendulkar was making his international debut. Even then, it was difficult to take Sachin out of the ground after net practice. So the groundstaff used to come and say, “We have to get the wickets ready for the Test match. Please ask your boy to come in.” Sachin just wouldn’t like to leave the ground. He was the first to enter and the last to leave the field. He never liked to stand in one place and watch practice. Sachin was up to something or the other — bowling, batting or even fielding. Sachin’s dedication at that age was amazing; he was possessed by the game.

After you got him out of the ground, he would still be playing cricket in the dressing room. During the lunch-break, team-members would have their meals, but Sachin and Salil Ankola used to practice inside. Sometimes I used to think he is a crazy!

One of the most striking memories of that visit was when he was hit on the face by Waqar Younis at Sialkot in the fourth Test. He was lying on the ground and there was blood on his face. I said, “Come on, let’s go in!” He said, “No. It is alright, sir. I will bat.” The physiotherapist then cleaned the blood on his face and got him ready.
Sachin then wore his helmet and took guard. Waqar came steaming in and Sachin promptly hit him back for four. It was remarkable! He scored 50-odd in that game — it was an absolutely brilliant innings. That is the time I said, “This baby is going to be somebody.”

In 2007, I was appointed the manager of the Indian team for the tour to England and Sachin hadn’t changed in all those years. If he made any mistakes on the field, he would go back to the nets and correct them. We were playing South Africa in Ireland and he got out in a particular manner. When he returned to the pavilion, he was sitting at one end. I approached him and told him, “Sachin, the ball that you tried to play towards leg, should have been played straight.” The next day, we went to the nets and I threw the ball to him. He then kept playing straight. After that he didn’t stop.

This was at a time when he was a 34-year-old veteran, but he still wanted to learn. That is the beauty of this marvellous cricketer.

—     As told to Nishad Pai Vaidya

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(Chandu Borde is a former India cricketer who played 55 Tests in the late 1950s and the 1960s. He scored 3,061 runs at an average of 35.59 with five tons and 18 fifties. Borde was also a leg-spinner, who took 52 Test wickets. Post-retirement, he has been actively involved in cricket as he was the Indian team’s manager in 1989 and 2007 and also served as a selector)