Indian cricket will miss Sachin Tendulkar in a month from now.
Legendary opener Sunil Gavaskar is convinced the new generation of cricketers will need time to come out of the comfort zone that Tendulkar provided.
Gavaskar spoke to The Hindu on various technical aspects of Tendulkar’s batting.
On what set Tendulkar apart:
He was the closest thing to perfection. He could play on the front foot, the back foot…all around.
His back-lift was straight, not at the start of the career, but as he went on he got the back-lift very straight. It is very difficult to maintain it because the natural back-lift is between first slip and second slip, and sometimes even wider than that. But, he managed to change that. The back-lift got straighter.
And he could play on any kind of surface, and play around the ground.
He was the closest to batting perfection.
On their stances being similar:
Stance, yes, but not in terms of grip. His grip is very unique.
The stance is quite relaxed, the head very still, the leg stump guard and right-eye being in line of the off stump. His stance was very good.
On the final tap of the bat and the focus on the bowler:
I don’t really recall what I did, but you want to make sure that you want to have the bowler in sight as long as possible. Even as he is walking back to the top of his run-up, you can pick up some sign, some signal…when you are playing against the quickest bowler, pick up some clue as to what the next ball is going to be.
The best thing is to keep an eye on the bowler, and that is what he did.
On his shot selection:
Shot selection is an instinctive thing. As the ball is released, the batsman reacts. In that aspect, the way he picked the line and length of the ball made him stand above the others.
He could pick the line of the ball sooner than the others, and be in position to play an attacking shot or a defensive shot,
On his predominant front-foot play:
It is basically a question of your natural movement. Lot of them have it back, and lot of them have it in front.
It should not be too pronounced because then there is no point in your taking guard. The purpose of taking whatever guard you have taken is defeated if your movement is too big.
Sachin has a front-foot movement, but it was just the initial movement, the trigger movement. It was in no way going to disturb his balance.
His best-looking stroke:
When he played the punch off the back-foot through cover! That was the sign for me that everything was going right with his batting.
When he played the punch to cover early, he would often go on to get a substantial score.
On his handling pressure:
It is quite astonishing the way he has handled it. The pressure on him has been much more than in my case.
During my days the pressure was when I was on the field…there was not much television coverage. Now you know that millions are watching you on television, and the expectations are that much higher.
To be able to handle that, go in day in and day, give nothing but the best. It shows how great a player he has been.
Future after Sachin:
Not for me to say, in my case. When you play cricket you are focussed on doing the job. Everything else subsides to the background.
It is very difficult to stay objective about myself. To an extent, the game will be different after he retires.
A new generation is coming but certainly the comfort level he provided will be missed. The new generation will take a little time. He is going to be missed massively.
We might start missing him next month in South Africa.
A favourite Sachin moment:
Personally, for me, the moment when he scored his first Test century (119 not out against England at Manchester in 1990).
It was the start of 51 hundreds. You have to learn how to go from 30 to 40 and 60 and so on. He had got a couple of fifties and he converted this into a hundred, a match-saving innings.
During the course of that knock he became a man from a boy, and began to shoulder the burden of Indian cricket. He is doing it even now!