Sachin Tendulkar: Let Arjun live like a normal 14-year-old

Sachin Tendulkar (left) with son Arjun, who played his first Kanga League match on Sunday for the Young Parsee Cricket Club © AFP (File Photo)

By Jaideep Vaidya

Mumbai: Sep 8, 2013

In a first, legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who is likely to play his 200th Test match in November, requested the media to let his son Arjun live his life “like a normal 14-year-old”.

Arjun, who has taken up cricket following in his illustrious father’s footsteps, played in his first Kanga League match on Sunday for the Young Parsee Cricket Club.

Tendulkar, 40, has attained demi-god status among India’s billion-plus population after breaking numerous international records and has been constantly under the spotlight for the majority of his 23-year playing career. Tendulkar made the fatherly request at an awards ceremony hosted by the Sports Journalists’ Association of Mumbai (SJAM), where he was felicitated for completing 100 international centuries.

“I’m going to take this opportunity to be a protective father,” said Tendulkar, towards the end of his speech.

“My son has played a match today — his first club match, an official match. He is passionate and madly in love with cricket. I would appreciate if everyone allows him to be himself, have his own identity and enjoy his cricket.

“When I started playing cricket, though my father was a professor and in the literary field, at no stage did I have this pressure from anyone to follow my father’s footsteps. At no stage of my life, there were comparisons.

“My son has just started his career and it’s a humble request to let him live his life like a normal 14-year-old, without thinking about anything else but falling in love with the sport.”

Tendulkar’s association with SJAM goes right back to the year 1988 when he first came into the spotlight for sharing a record-breaking 664-run stand with Vinod Kambli in the Harris Shield. At the time, he was taken from suburban Bandra to Willingdon Sports Club in the island city by a rickshaw to be felicitated by the association, as was revealed at Sunday’s function.

Recounting the incident, Tendulkar said, “We were only teenagers and somebody had to look after us; so, at that time the rickshaw ride was really comfortable with all our kit bags, compared to travelling in trains and buses. Even Mr Sunil Gavaskar, who had just retired, was present. It made it even more special.”

Tendulkar’s humble request to the media thus came at a perfect occasion, when several journalists, young and old, from his hometown Mumbai were present under one roof. Tendulkar even thanked sports journalists for their role in shaping the lives of sportspersons.

“Sports journalists play huge role in making players and supporting players,” he said. “Any sportsperson and sports journalist, the relationship is interlinked.”

“I would be failing in my duty if I did not acknowledge the support I have received from you. There have been opinions, criticisms, some fiction along the way. But I cannot complain about the entire package,” he said.

Tendulkar also remembered his first interaction with journalists. “It was in ’86-87 and the questions were longer than the answers. I’ve tried to make my answers longer by the years,” he said, to the amusement of the gathering.

In a few words of advice to young and upcoming sportsmen, Tendulkar said, “Enjoy every moment. There will be challenges…embrace them. Don’t take shortcuts.

“To be able to perform consistently over the years, the mental frame of mind has to be positive at all times. Trust your instincts and don’t think about anyone else,” he said.

Among other sportspersons felicitated at the function were: Tanvi Lad (badminton), Mahesh Mangaonkar (squash), Armaan Jaffer (cricket), Dipika Joseph (kabaddi), Poonam Raut (cricket), Abhishek Nayar (cricketer of the year), Ajit Agarkar (Mumbai Ranji Trophy-winning captain), Rahi Sarnobat (pistol shooting; Sportsperson of the year – female), Aditya Mehta (cueist; sportsperson of the year – male).

(Jaideep Vaidya is a correspondent at CricketCountry. A diehard Manchester United fan and sports buff, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook)