20 years of Tendulkar November 13, 2009

India should play more Tests - Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar has expressed his disappointment at India not playing enough Tests in the near future. Besides the three Tests in the upcoming home series against Sri Lanka, which begins in Ahmedabad on November 16, India play only two more Tests, in Bangladesh in January, in the 2009-10 season. There are no further Test series planned at least till the end of the 2010.

"We should play more Test cricket for sure. It is obviously not great news that we are only playing five Tests this season," Tendulkar said at a media event on Friday to commemorate his completing 20 years in international cricket.

Test cricket, he said, was the true testing ground for any youngster and the best way to fast track his development. "Ideally for any team to progress you need to play more Test cricket as that is where the real cricket is according to me. Test cricket is cricket of the highest level and since it is played across five days at the end of each day it allows you to regroup, re-think, come up with fresh ideas and plan for the next day. Sometimes in Twenty20 and ODIs even before you realise the match is over."

As a 16-year-old Tendulkar cut his teeth in the 1989 Test series against Pakistan and immediately understood it was not going to be easy. In the final Test of that series, Waqar Younis drew blood after striking Tendulkar on the nose. Ajit Tendulkar, his elder brother, the man whom Sachin counts as his biggest influence as a player, was sitting in the stands. Ajit might have winced but his brother didn't: "When I was hit by Waqar that got me more competitive and I decided not to move from the middle and I would continue to fight," Tendulkar animatedly recounted the incident to a 75-odd media contingent.

Though the event was by invitation only for a select group of journalists, a lot of media personnel - aware of the unique opportunity it presented - gatecrashed the event. Tendulkar remained unruffled and for the next five hours remained seated in the middle of the room, answering hundreds of questions, even if most were repeated. Displaying the same proficiency he has shown against various forms of bowling, Tendulkar moved seamlessly from English to Hindi to Marathi in his responses, paying detailed attention to the questioner's every word.

While his zeal for the game continues to amaze, he is not at all surprised by it. He says it is because he is passionate about what he does and is confident and clear about what he wants to do.

It's not his fans alone who wonder how Tendulkar has been strong in various situations and stayed competitive over the last two decades; MS Dhoni, the India captain, recently said he did not rule out Tendulkar being in contention to play the 2015 World Cup.

Tendulkar, though, said he wanted to live in the moment and plan for the near future instead of dwelling on what could happen five years down the line.

"It would be nice if I can go on that that long (till 2015) but I don't want to think that far and concentrate on the next phase," he said. "My focus is on the near future. I've enjoyed every bit so far and I feel there is cricket left in me and everything is going really well."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo