Meticulous preparation has always defined the man
Practice makes perfect. Even geniuses are not exempt from that and none symbolises this more than Sachin Tendulkar. The staggering runs are there for all to see but what is not largely evident is his rigorous training. Tendulkar may have scaled new heights all these years since his international debut in 1989, but his stringent work ethic in the nets has remained the same. A fact highlighted by former India opener Lalchand Rajput, who has seen Tendulkar from his adolescent days: “He discusses with bowlers, speaks about imaginary field positions, and initially, doesn’t play his shots.
“Later, he works on his strokes, be it a square-cut or an upper-cut, and he tries his best not to get out. When he bowls, he is always trying to dismiss the batsman! He is extremely competitive, be it in the nets, or even while playing table tennis,” Rajput said.
Meticulous preparation has always defined the man as was evident when he got leg-spinner L. Sivaramakrishnan to bowl to him ahead of the 1998 Chennai Test against Australia, so that he could be ready for Shane Warne.
Tendulkar’s ability to size up the bowlers in the nets and extend that trait into matches drew praise from Javagal Srinath. “You may think ‘let me bowl an inswinger’ and he will be ready for that. “The only way to keep him quiet was to bowl in that extremely good-length area and he would then have his defence.
“During my days, when I was briefly a pinch-hitter, I had the opportunity of batting with him. After every delivery, he would predict what the next one would be. He would say: ‘This could be short, this could be outside the off-stump.’ He could read the bowler’s mind. A passionate heart and a strong mind are the secret behind his longevity,” said the former Indian pace spearhead.
It is never about himself for Tendulkar as he also mentors youngsters. Robin Uthappa, who has benefited from Tendulkar’s wisdom, said: “When you see him making some technical adjustments in the nets, you can ask him and he will freely discuss it. The amazing thing about him is that he just doesn’t hold back, he is a giver and shares all his inputs.
“In 2008, when I was always trying to go after the bowling, he would tell me to play my natural game while also trying to build an innings and he would give his own examples. Things like that stick to your mind.”
Learning is an everyday process and it is a truism Tendulkar diligently follows. Last year, without any fanfare he came to the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore on Independence Day and worked on his drive with coach Dinesh Nanavati keeping an eagle eye.
“I am too small a person to comment on him. On that day, he wanted to check out how he was shaping for the drive.
“He batted for 45 minutes. We discussed a few points and after that he felt that his drives were more controlled and powerful,” said Nanavati.
If Tendulkar is the biggest cricketing icon since Sir Don Bradman, it is also because he merged talent with the desire to perform and backed it with intense practice and discipline. It is a benchmark that all aspiring cricketers should emulate.