Free Press Journal

Sachin Tendulkar was the quintessential team man: Author Devendra Prabhudesai


Author Devendra Prabhudesai chats with SUMEET NAIK about Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement, coming to terms with it, and more…

Sir Don Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar widely regarded as the greatest batsmen the game has ever seen, always considered themselves student of the sport. At no point in their careers did they see themselves as bigger than the game. Their chosen profession reciprocated their love and respect for it. Author Devendra Prabhudesai believes Sachin supplemented his passion for his profession with three more Ps – Patience, Penance and Perseverance.  Excerpts from an interview…

QWhen you write or comment about Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, there is always an extra sense of responsibility. You have attempted it not once, but twice…

A – Writing two books on the most-loved cricketer of the modern era was an honour. The story of ‘Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar’ can be told from multiple perspectives. I tried to focus on his evolution from a teenage prodigy to a world-beater in HERO, my biography of his that was released last year. WINNING LIKE SACHIN; THINK & SUCCEED LIKE TENDULKAR, my second book on him that was released last month, showcases the attributes that made him a champion cricketer and the ideal role model not only for aspiring cricketers, but also for those who want to become ‘Sachins’ in their respective professions.

From the Sunil Gavaskar, to Sachin Tendulkar, to Rahul Dravid, you have written about these three cricketing legends. Any striking similarity among them on-field as well as off-field?

A – I am grateful to my publishers (Rupa) for giving me the opportunity to write biographies of the three Indians to have scored over 10,000 runs in Test cricket. Gavaskar was my childhood hero and I belong to the same generation as Rahul and Sachin. All three individuals epitomised excellence on the field of play and humility off it. They let their actions and deeds speak for them. They complemented their talent with patience, penance and perseverance.

Your book touches upon many unpredictable moves by Tendulkar, has he caught you off guard?

A –A personal experience that comes to mind occurred on the afternoon of 10 October 2013, when I was part of the BCCI. The Board Secretary called to tell me that he was sending me something very important, which had to be forwarded to the media, soonest. Two minutes later, a mail popped up in my inbox. It was about Sachin having informed the Board about his decision to retire from international cricket after the series against the West Indies, which was to be played in November 2013. I went blank and held my head in my hands, trying to come to terms with the realisation that the ‘childhood’ of at least a couple of generations, was over.

Who would you pick first, Sachin as a batsman or Sachin as a bowler? And why?

A – Sachin the batsman, of course. It was as a batsman that he gave so much joy to cricket-lovers across the globe. However, if asked to pick just one memory of his, then I would go for the final over of the Hero Cup semi-final against South Africa at Kolkata in November 1993, which was bowled by him. It was a classic case of a player standing up to be counted in a crisis. Sachin had not bowled a single over in the game till that point, but he backed himself to deny the opposition the six runs that it needed for a win. He was the quintessential team man. This is one of his many attributes that I have highlighted in my books.

Who do you see in the current lot of cricketers having potential that matches Sachin’s?

A – Virat Kohli has it in him to become as legendary a cricketer as Sachin. Records are meant to be broken, and it will be wonderful if Sachin’s records are broken by an Indian!

Do you see an era of gymkhanas and domestic cricketing platforms being forgotten amidst the glittering blitz of cash-rich IPL?

A – These are eventful times for cricket and cricket-lovers. I think the administrators of the sport have done a fine job in maintaining a balance between the traditional form of the game and the shorter versions. Domestic cricket continues to be taken seriously by the players and that is a great sign. I believe that the IPL is a success only because domestic cricket is in the pink of health. Contrary to what the cynics think, I feel that it will be difficult for Twenty20 cricket to exist in isolation.

You have adopted a touch-and-go approach on issues like match fixing and other controversies. Is it deliberate?

A –The CBI’s 2000 report on ‘Cricket Match-fixing and Related Malpractises,’ which I have referred to in the book, is in public domain and people who want to know more can go through the same. An extract from the report that I have carried in the book, goes like this:

‘In fact, in most of the matches where fixing was taking place, the clue was that the game would ‘be on’ only when Tendulkar got out because he was one player who could single-handedly win the match and upset any calculation.’ This, to my mind, is the grandest tribute that has ever been paid to a cricketer.

(Author was associated with the Board of Control for Cricket in India- BCCI from 2008 to 2015 as Manager for Media Relations and Corporate Affairs)