'Sachin Tendulkar's will to win is far greater than the fear of failure'

Ramji Srinivasan says that Sachin Tendulkar (above) is the Mozart of cricket © Getty Images

By Ramji Srinivasan

In my book, Sachin Tendulkar is the Mozart of cricket. As the Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Indian cricket team, I realised that he has a fantastic body record. This is because of his sheer commitment. It is that aspect that has allowed him to overcome various challenges throughout his career. In 2006, everybody were skeptical about his future as he had been through an injury-ridden period. However, I had said then that he would play for at least five years and people had laughed at me. Seven years down the line, I stand vindicated, thanks to the Master!

Even when Sachin went through that tough phase, he had this supreme will to make a comeback. If you look at all the great sportsmen, they have battled injuries and niggles to emerge victorious — whether it is Michael Jordan, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Pele or anyone. The will to win has been far greater than the fear of failure. During that testing period, Sachin’s core strength was always was remarkable and that coupled with his mindset allowed him to make that comeback.

Everything Sachin does is meticulously planned. He has a great attention to detail, even for the smallest things. When he battled injuries, we chalked out a training regime to suit his body. Not many people can work like him and he has the ability to adapt and understand the technicality of any exercise. Every training cycle is customized according to the format he plays. For example, if he is to play a Test series, his training and fitness schedule would be different when compared to that of a T20. Plus, he is always eager to learn new things and that is something very natural. Some men are born geniuses while others have greatness thrust upon them.
During my association with Sachin, there have been many moments I will cherish. However, there are three that would stand out. Sachin met the famous Formula One driver Narain Kartikeyan and they were engrossed in an in-depth discussion on the latter’s sport. Sachin’s knowledge of the sport is great and he discussed things like the engines, tracks, strategies etc, with Kartikeyan. Apart from cricket and Formula One, Sachin also has good knowledge of tennis. He is also a good go-karting driver and who knows, if he would have given it a go, he may have made it as a motor racer as well because his hand-eye coordination is very good.

The other incident I remember happened at Hyderabad in 2007. We were working out in the gym and one particular song from the 1970s was played on the music system. Sachin and I had heard this after many years and we then played that song for almost one and a half hours. We asked for the song to be played again and again, so much so that the other people in the gym left. Sachin does love his music.

Then, there is another instance that shows his impact in the dressing room. I had introduced these high-altitude masks to the team. It was brought in to help improve their aerobic capacity and for better breathing. It helped train the lower nodes of the lungs. Sachin was the first one to try it on and looking at him, the others such as Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin and Rohit Sharma too wore it. Even away from the cricket field, the youngsters look up to him and approach him for help. He has all classy tastes and can also advice them on music, fashion and food as well.

We then proceeded to do some core-stability exercises with the mask. I demonstrated the complicated movements once, but Sachin got them in the first attempt. Those aren’t easy exercises by any means and I had goose bumps when I saw him get it right on the first go. That shows that he has what we call good “body awareness.” For example, if he injures one part, he would work and strengthen the other areas. There were modified protocols to suit his biomechanical needs.

It was dream come true for me to work with him. It is sad that he has to go, but I must say that from now on we have two eras in cricket — Before Sachin Tendulkar (BST) and After Sachin Tendulkar (AST).

Thank you, Sachin, for giving the chance to work with you — one of the greatest sportsmen the world has seen. It has been a great honour and it would stay with me till my last breath!

— As told to Nishad Pai Vaidya

(Ramji Srinivasan has worked with Team India as a Strength and Conditioning Coach since 2009. In 2006, he worked with Sachin Tendulkar after his shoulder surgery)
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