‘I wish he finishes on a high’

Anil Kumble with Sachin Tendulkar.“Having seen him from close quarters, both as player, captain and mentor, I can say that he still has that hunger in him,” says Kumble.-C.P. SAMPATH KUMAR

“Sachin Tendulkar is a great player, a great ambassador for cricket and he has inspired many in the younger generation to pick up the sport,” says Anil Kumble.

It is difficult to describe completely what Sachin Tendulkar brings to the table as a team-man. He is such a bubbly presence on the field, always full of ideas and when I was captain, I used to discuss issues and ideas with him. When you thought about a particular move, you do run it through him. I used to bounce my ideas off him. With Sachin, it is not just about what you see on the field, it is also about how he mentors the young cricketers. Yes, there is the awe factor with him but youngsters these days are unlike my generation.

We were shy guys when we started out but today’s young players are well aware of Tendulkar, having played with and against him across different formats and they are much more confident and he helps them a lot.

During the Sydney Test in 2008, Harbhajan Singh and Sachin were out in the middle when a few issues cropped up. The team and I spoke to both Sachin and Bhajji and we understood that Bhajji was treated badly. At that point in time, there was this feeling among a large percentage of the squad that we should go back home. I felt that we should stay back and handle the issue. I spoke to Sachin and I knew that if he was convinced then it was easier to convince Bhajji. We had our discussions and we stayed back. Sachin and I share a very close bond based on mutual respect.

His is an amazing career, 25 years in international cricket, 50,000 runs in all formats of the game and yet he still has that hunger in him. Having seen him from close quarters, both as player, captain and mentor, I can say that he still has that hunger in him.

He is a great player, a great ambassador for cricket and he has inspired many in the younger generation to pick up the sport. It will be an emotional moment. For nearly 25 years, he has been part of the team in all formats and he is synonymous with all the teams that he played for and all those teams have a hard act to follow. Surely, he will be missed.

I wish he finishes on a high. He deserves everything in life.

As told to K. C. Vijaya Kumar