Sachin Tendulkar said he has more than lived up to the challenge thrown at him by legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev in 1989 by continuing to play international cricket for two decades.
“It was a dream to play for India. On my first tour to Pakistan, Kapil said if you play for 10 years in international cricket you would have achieved something. I took it as a challenge and have nearly doubled it,” Tendulkar said after launching Adidas cricket gear.
“It’s a great feeling (to be in international cricket for two decades),” he added.
Tendulkar made his Test debut in Karachi on November 15, 1989 under the captaincy of Krishnamachari Srikkanth, the current chief selector. The last man to be in international cricket this long was former England opener and ex-captain Graham Gooch who played between 1975 and 1995.
The batting stalwart, however, denied having said in a recent interview to Wisden Cricketer magazine that he wanted to score 15,000 runs before retiring.
“A lot of things are attributed to me that I had never said. I never said I wanted to score 15,000 runs (in Tests) before I retire,” Tendulkar said.
“Sunil Gavaskar told me I have to get to 15,000 runs. He said he would be angry with me and would come and catch me if I didn’t. I admire him so much and to score that many would be a terrific achievement, but that is not the only aim,” he was quoted as saying by Wisden Cricketer.
The magazine also quoted Tendulkar as having said that “to win the World Cup in 2011” is his another ambition. He also conceded he would not know what to do when he quits the game.
“It’s hard to imagine life without cricket,” said Tendulkar, currently top run-getter in both Tests (12,773 runs with 42 hundreds in 159 matches) and ODIs (16,684 runs with 43 tons in 425 matches).
The champion batsman, gearing up for a new international season with the triangular series in Sri Lanka later this month, said when he chose a bat he always looked out for its shape, balance, pick-up and weight.
“The bat speaks to me. For me the curve is quite important but the most important is the bat stroke. I look for the right shape, balance, pick-up and weight. Otherwise I’m not comfortable,” said Tendulkar.
The batting maestro said he preferred heavier bats and has not changed this aspect right through his career even when he battled through injuries.
“There was a lot of talk and advice to me about using lighter bats (when he suffered the tennis elbow injury some years ago). I talked to specialists and they said the heavier the bats the less the impact (on the elbow). As long as the bat is to my liking, I’m comfortable,” he said.
Tendulkar, who is to give his invaluable, inputs to the 80-year-old multinational sports gear firm, said he wanted to associate himself with a firm that had all cricket equipment under one umbrella.
“The first shoes given to me when I was in school was a pair of Adidas shoes by Praveen Amre (former India batsman and current Mumbai coach). I was 12 or 13 and my relationship with them (Adidas) started then. Over the last ten years it has grown into a healthy one,” said Tendulkar.
“I would use my twenty years experience in international cricket in giving my inputs to them. After all I’m going to play with these bats I think my inputs would also help future cricketers in getting the best of equipment. I want to take my relationship with Adidas to a different level in cricket gear,” he said.
Tendulkar said he would start using the custom-made bat by Adidas from the time it becomes available to him.
Adidas India MD, Andreas Gellner, said that inputs from Tendulkar, Australia skipper Ricky Ponting and Indian opener Virender Sehwag would be used to make the customised bats for the market.
Gellner did not see any potential conflict of interest between the BCCI’s official cricket apparel supplier Nike and Tendulkar’s use of Adidas bats in international matches.
“It has nothing to do with marketing. We want to develop a relationship with Sachin and take it forward,” he said.