Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: The start of a new journey for junior Tendulkar

Arjun's long-time coach Subroto Banerjee was excited to see his ward take his first steps on the big stage.

'Not someone who would give up': Arjun Tendulkar at a practice session in Dharamsala in 2018. - PTI

Arjun Tendulkar – after featuring in age-group cricket and bowling in the Mumbai Indians’ nets – made his debut for Mumbai in a Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy fixture against Haryana on Friday.

The 21-year-old conceded 34 runs in three overs and bagged the wicket of Chaitanya Bishnoi as Mumbai suffered yet another defeat in the tournament, going down by eight wickets.

As the cricketing circles went abuzz with Tendulkar junior’s senior State debut, his long-time coach and former India international Subroto Banerjee was excited to see his ward in action. “Arjun never skipped his routine. He would hang in there and work hard, so that whenever there is an opportunity, he could prove himself,” Banerjee told Sportstar on Friday.

A year and a half ago, Arjun featured in the T20 Mumbai League and ahead of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this year, he was added to the Mumbai squad, along with pacer Krutik Hanagavadi, after the BCCI permitted States to select a larger squad of 22 players.

“Having grown up watching his father, Arjun knows his shortcomings and is also willing to learn. He knows what he wants and what needs to be done,” Banerjee, who played a lone Test and six ODIs for India in 1991-92, said.

One of the closest friends of Sachin Tendulkar, Banerjee has known Arjun since his childhood, and when he started working with the young boy as a coach, he was impressed with the way the Tendulkar family managed to keep Arjun out of the limelight. “It’s not easy to be Sachin’s son and play cricket. Everything he does is compared to his father, so the sword will always hang above his head. But we must understand that Sachin was a different individual and he is a different person, who is young and has a different mindset,” Banerjee said.

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“He is not allowed to speak to the media. I remember Sachin telling him that ‘you have not done anything to go to the media and talk’. Arjun was told to be like just another cricketer of his age. Sachin is very particular about those things,” Banerjee, who has previously worked in the National Cricket Academy, said.

Willingness to learn

Former India batsman W. V. Raman remembers the time when Arjun broke into the India U-19 team and featured in a couple of Youth Tests against Sri Lanka in 2018. Raman was the coach of the India U-19 side on that tour.

“He was like any other cricketer of his age and was keen on bowling quick. He was interested to know if he is improving his pace on a day-to-day basis. During that tour, he could come off the field and say, ‘Sir, don’t tell me that I am bowling well, because I don’t think I bowled well.’ So, he had set high standards for himself - a quality that runs in the genes,” Raman said.

These are still early days, and Tendulkar junior has a lot to prove.