A child-like enthusiasm for the game is the reason why Sachin Tendulkar has completed over two decades in international cricket despite the pounding that his body has taken, feels his long-time teammate Rahul Dravid.
“Sachin's longevity comes down to the joy that he still gets from playing. After 20 years of international cricket he still has a child-like enthusiasm. That's not an easy thing to do when you have been travelling and playing so much and your body has taken a pounding,” Dravid said in the latest edition of Wisden Cricketer magazine.
“He is great at preparing for games. Not only in terms of his skills but also getting his mind right. His batting has changed with time — with his body and age.
“That's the beauty of it. The game has changed, the bowlers have changed and he has changed along with that.
“Every time he has changed he has been successful. He hasn't seen too many bad patches in his career,” he added.
Dravid was not the only one paying tribute to the batting icon.
Five former England captains, including the Ashes-winning Michael Vaughan, revealed how the diminutive right-hander tormented and mesmerised them in equal measure in the same magazine.
Nasser Hussain said Tendulkar has made some adjustments to his strategy over the years. “Technically and mentally Sachin has changed little over the years but he has changed his game plan. He began as flamboyant, extravagant stroke-maker who had all the shots and simply loved the game. Once the records and the hundreds started to be racked up, he turned into a run-machine,” Hussain said.
“There are two types of cricketers; there are guys like myself and Mike Atherton who played the game because that's what we did; there are players like Graham Gooch and Alec Stewart who have the game in their blood, who would be lost without the game. “Sachin is in the second group. He is not driven by money, he is driven by batting,” he added.
Andrew Flintoff said he craved for Tendulkar's respect whenever he bowled at him.
“...with Tendulkar, when I bowled to him, I actually wanted him to respect me. I want him to walk off that field thinking that Flintoff is a good player, he can bowl. I want to impress him,” he said.
Graham Gooch said even at the start of his career, Tendulkar came across as a seasoned player.
“No one had ever seen him in 1990. As a 17-year-old it was evident that the lad had great skill, great balance, great timing, an eye for the ball,” he said.
“For one so young he had a poise and composure about his batting. You don't often get that in young players; you get the talent and the stroke-making but poise, authority and composure normally come later.