‘I don’t like these comparisons’

AP

Sachin Tendulkar feels awkward about being compared with legends such as Don Bradman and Viv Richards. “I respect every individual who graced cricket before I came to play. Can you take away their contributions? You can’t. So why make these comparisons?” he says in a chat with Vijay Lokapally.

The first batsman to make a double century in the 50-overs-a-side format, Sachin Tendulkar speaks to Sportstar on his magnificent knock against South Africa in Gwalior and other aspects of the game.

The excerpts:

Question: How do you feel when people who haven’t seen Don Bradman play or only watched Viv Richards on video make comparisons and rate you above them? Isn’t it awkward for you?

Answer: I just don’t like these comparisons. Right from the beginning I have been saying please don’t make such comparisons. I respect every individual who graced cricket before I came to play. Can you take away their contributions? You can’t. So why make these comparisons? All the past greats had their own identity, they all deserve that honour. I have my own identity and I have earned it too. They (Bradman and Richards) were very special cricketers and should remain so. Why do you want to have a second for every first? Can’t we remember the first and show him respect? That is the reason why I don’t like cricketers of different eras being compared. Each knock has its value, and the one who plays that knock too has a value. We should not measure them. I don’t believe in that.

Is your innings in Gwalior the best ever in terms of quality of attack and match situation?

Honestly, you should be the judge. It is difficult for me to say. In fact, I cherish every victory that we have achieved more than I remember my individual knocks. Of course, I would love to do this again, bat the full 50 overs.

Your reflections on this grand knock?

Being a double century it has a different impact. It is obviously different because it happened for the first time. It was quite close to the 175 (in Hyderabad). I planned as the innings progressed — I worked out the bowlers and short-listed the areas where I would play my shots off a particular bowler.

A lot of experts have been surprised by the pace you set and the amazing fitness you showed when running between the wickets even after crossing 190…

To tell you the truth, I have not analysed it so closely. I take every innings by the conditions I face. You can’t be predetermined. You want to do a lot but you can’t always do them. I was certainly happy with the fact that I was able to take ones and twos even after I had crossed 150.

Were you very happy with your fitness?

You can say that. I am happy with my fitness because I could push myself. That way it was wonderful. It was wonderful to bat because I was happy with my timing of the ball. I could do it from the first ball. My feet were moving well. Everything fell in place. It was like solving a jigsaw puzzle. You begin solving it and then everything falls into place. I was happy with my hand-eye co-ordination, my shot selection and placement of shots.

The 175 in Hyderabad — it must have been heart-breaking, but do you agree the challenge there was far greater than in Gwalior?

It was certainly heart-breaking. We got so close to winning. It was very upsetting. We were going well. A good innings becomes very good only if you win. A defeat hurts every individual and I am no different. When three or four guys come together to contribute you tend to win. We all tried but could not win in Hyderabad. In Gwalior, we batted first but the challenge in Hyderabad was different. I had fielded for 50 overs and then gone to bat. I batted until the 48th over. So virtually I was on the field for 100 overs.

Do you plan or prepare any differently from your early days?

Not really. In terms of training there is not much. In terms of style too I don’t think there is any change. The demands and requirements change with time. It also depends on the opposition you face and the playing conditions you encounter. I still prepare for the same length of time even though here I batted the full innings. My intensity of preparation has not changed at all.

You seem to have discovered your vintage form, if experts are to be believed…

I don’t think I had lost my touch. Since 2000 I have had a fair amount of injuries but the momentum was not lacking. In 2003 I had a finger injury, then tennis elbow, then shoulder, then bicep… All these injuries affected the upper body but the bat swing has not changed. Certain changes happen involuntarily but not to the extent that it would have a big impact on my game. In any case, I can’t bat as I did in the first decade of my international career, but then I have gained so much in terms of experience and I use it to my advantage.

Records in any game, especially in cricket, raise your profile. But is it not natural to chase milestones even though you have always said that you don’t play for records?

I have never played for records. If they happen, it is not my fault. Records may give some indication of your calibre, but they are not the true indication.

Would you rank your three best one-day innings?

I would pick them but put them on the same platform. The 200, the 175 and the 98 (in Centurion in the 2003 World Cup).

How do you react to being referred to as the God of cricket?

I am grateful for all the affection showered on me all these years. I feel truly humbled. I am just another player!