'Just bowl him another long hop'

The Zimbabwe offspinner, who played against a young Tendulkar in 1992-93, recalls being impressed by his batsmanship and modesty
John Traicos October 24, 2013

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In the 1992 World Cup, Sachin was the youngest player and I was the oldest player in the tournament. I guess both of us were thinking the same thing: we are lucky to be playing a World Cup at our individual ages. Interestingly, I did not know he was the ball boy at the India-Zimbabwe match during the group stages of the 1987 World Cup, played at Wankhede Stadium.

John Traicos, the former Zimbabwe offspinner, now settled in Perth, January 17, 2008
John Traicos on a young Tendulkar: "He was very precise, very methodical" © Siddhartha Vaidyanathan

Sunil Gavaskar had rated Tendulkar as a champion cricketer, so there was an expectation and aura surrounding him even at an age when he had just come into international cricket. The difference between most youngsters and Sachin is, Sachin came in as a boy with a sort of reputation of being a world beater or the next big thing. But he had modesty about him and quietness about him.

Sachin was a very shy guy, but very, very confident. He certainly had a great deal of confidence. He was incredibly modest in his approach. There was never anything flashy about him. You often find talented players at such a young age tend to be precocious, tend to be flamboyant in their game. But Sachin was very precise, very methodical.

In the World Cup we lost to India in Hamilton, where Tendulkar, as an 18-year-old, made 81 and was Man of the Match. I was amazed how cleanly he hit the ball, and it was extremely difficult to restrict him and to stop him scoring boundaries. His timing and placement in that match were impeccable - he kept hitting the ball off the middle of the bat and was able to accumulate runs off nearly every ball. It was an early lesson in batsmanship from a young master.

In Zimbabwe's first Test, in Harare in October 1992, I was extremely fortunate to get him caught and bowled off a shortish delivery that bounced a little and which he pushed back to me. I am told it was the second duck of his career. It was a shorter ball than the normal length I liked to bowl, but it just bounced a bit and he just lobbed back a return catch. The next time he came in to bat (in Delhi, in 1993), Grant Flower, fielding at slip, commented, "Here is an easy wicket. Just bowl him another long hop." I think that we chased a lot of runs that day.

As a young cricketer in the 1990s, Sachin impressed as a gentleman on and off the field, and while he exhibited the skills of an exceptionally talented batsman, he also displayed the humility of a great player who knows that nobody is bigger than the game. He set an example of how the game should be played.

As told to Nagraj Gollapudi

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Posted by Bhaskar on (October 25, 2013, 7:01 GMT)

If Donald Bradman is a SIR, then Sachin deserves the LORD title

Posted by Aditya on (October 25, 2013, 5:47 GMT)

Super tidbits about God from a scary spinner. Scary because he was actually a really good spinner and kept taking wickets, even against India who play spinners well. Really beautiful article and this should come as high praise to Sachin from a very good cricketer.


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Zaltz Stats

The approximate number of people in India today who had not been born when Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut in 1989 (calculated from these figures). His batting has been so erotically outstanding that the global population has increased by almost 2 billion during his career, with the biggest increase, understandably, in India itself.

I have played cricket for 24 years, it has been only 24 hours since retirement, and I think I should get at least 24 days to relax before deciding these things.

Sachin Tendulkar doesn't want to think of what lies ahead just yet